An appropriate burial
Nearly three decades after his death, Ferdinand Marcos continues to haunt our politics. A section of our society vehemently opposes the burial of his remains in a military cemetery, which the late president wished. The Marcos family, on the other hand, insists on honoring the patriarch’s final request.
For nearly three decades, a political tug-of-war went on unremittingly between those who wish to honor their dead in customary fashion and those who wish to deny the corpse honorable interment. Many young Filipinos, spared the extraordinary passions of a different age, see the struggle over where to bury the corpse might seem silly and inconsequential. There should be better uses for the political energies unleashed by this issue.
President Duterte, who nothing more than putting this matter to rest, allowed the Marcos family to bury their patriarch in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The late president, after all, was both soldier and chief executive. In the strictest administrative sense, he qualifies to be buried there among former presidents and brave soldiers.
Those who made it their business to prevent the burial, for reasons of partisanship or personal grievance, brought the issue up to the Supreme Court. They accused government of grave abuse of discretion in allowing the burial to happen. Long oral deliberations were held. All matters of law were weighed. Last week, the Court decided, by a large majority, that government did not commit grave abuse of discretion in allowing Marcos to be buried in the military cemetery.
That should have been that. Under the rule of law, which we observe, the Supreme Court is the last resort. The Court’s word is law. This was the moment to, literally and figuratively, bury the issue.
But there are those who do not want the issue to be settled. Some of the petitioners threaten to file a motion for reconsideration, which is their right although it is also a means to keep this burning issue aflame. The legal issues might be, for all intents and purposes, fully settled. But there are those who think preventing the burial is a form of redress worthy of keeping the nation divided.
During the oral arguments, those opposing the burial resorted to every underhanded tactic in the book. They claimed, without proof, that President Duterte’s decision to have the unburied corpse interred in the military cemetery was payment of some political debt. They thought burying the late leader in his cemetery of choice was a form of honoring someone who must be demonized for all eternity. They have such an awesome capacity for nurturing hate.
There are parallels between those opposing the burial and those marching in the streets of America against the dramatic outcome of last week’s election. Among those marching in the streets against the election of Trump admitted they did not vote for Hillary Clinton. Now they are objecting to the logical outcome of their failure to support the only candidate who could stop Trump.
Now we might see protests in our own streets over the burial of someone they want eternally condemned. They refuse to abide by the Supreme Court because it did not conform to what they wanted. They want to be obeyed even if the final arbiter of legal disputes thought otherwise. If Trump should not be trusted with the nuclear codes, the anti-burial people should not be trusted with administering the rule of law.
Both the Americans protesting the outcome of a fair election and the Filipinos objecting to the well-considered ruling of our own Supreme Court are undermining institutions. They are temperamental brats refusing to concede to the outcome of regular processes.
As a last card, the antiburial people now intend to apply pressure on President Duterte to reverse his position allowing Marcos to be buried in the Libingan. They argue that what is now legal may not be moral. That is a chronically self-righteous thing to say. One might counterargue that what is moral may not be legal.
Unfortunately for them, the President is bent on ending the divisive acrimony.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.