Sinister surprise | Inquirer Opinion

Sinister surprise

/ 12:20 AM November 19, 2016

The heirs of Ferdinand Marcos are raising their children and grandchildren according to the family tradition of deviousness and deception. This tradition has made possible the imposition of martial law on Sept. 23 (ostensibly Sept. 21), 1972, their continuing bare-faced protestations of innocence, and the clandestine burial yesterday of the dictator’s remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The burial in the cemetery officially designated as resting ground for heroes was conducted without a hitch, with the public including the media truly caught unaware—and swiftly, as though there were not a moment to lose, as though outrage were gathering at the cemetery gates and the mourners and their cohorts were remembering one night 30 years ago when impassioned citizens were marching on the Palace, crying “Enough!”…

But seamless were the proceedings in the Libingan, despite the Armed Forces spokesperson’s claim that the Marcos heirs had given the military short notice. Unbeknownst to the martial law victims preparing to line the streets to protest the planned hero’s burial for the dictator, perchance to block the funeral convoy with their aging, now-frail bodies, his remains were airlifted by military helicopter from his native Ilocos Norte to the Libingan in Taguig City. It now appears that the announcement of 9-day prayers for the dead—begun in Batac on Nov. 16, moving to Sarrat, Dingras, Vintar and other towns of Ilocos Norte before ending in Batac on Nov. 24—was a clever red herring drawn across the trail by the Marcos heirs, to confuse protest organizers.


“Like a thief in the night” was yesterday’s common refrain, rising spontaneously to the lips of those stunned, indeed blindsided, by the thievery of the judicial process. To think that the deed was accomplished at the Marcos heirs’ behest, with the use of the resources of the state, with personnel of the state doing the honors, attended and enabled by persons of authority in the military and police, as though the Marcos heirs were—and indeed they behave as though they are—at the very peak of their power and entitlement. (The AFP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, said the military hewed to “the wishes of the Marcos family to keep the burial a secret.”)

Never mind, the Marcos heirs declare by their deed, the 70,000 men and women imprisoned, most of whom were arrested arbitrarily, the 34,000 tortured, and the 3,240 killed during the dark night of the dictatorship; never mind the massive plunder, the fruits of which are stashed and squirreled away, and which the Presidential Commission on Good Government continues to try mightily to recover. After all, they announce by their deed, they rest on the solid backing of President Duterte even if he is half a world away, and on the majority ruling of the Supreme Court even if it has yet to be rendered final and executory.


But if, by their act of impunity and disrespect for the judicial process, the Marcos heirs believe that it is the end of their stay in political limbo and the logical step in their generational journey back to respectability and ultimately Malacañang, they underestimate the people’s capacity to remember. There will be no silence, there will be no “healing,” no “moving on.”

“Mabuhay ang Pilipinas,” the governor of Ilocos Norte, Imee Marcos, mouthed at the end of her statement yesterday in which she thanked the President and her family’s supporters for making her father’s burial in the Libingan possible. The attentive observer still trying to come to terms with the sinister surprise would be moved to recall Johnny Escandor, who was snatched by state agents during martial law and whose skull was cracked open and his briefs stuffed inside, and Archimedes Trajano, who was taken away by her bodyguards after he audaciously questioned her about her chairmanship of the Kabataang Barangay, and whose severely broken body was found days later. Does she remember?

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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Marcos burial, martial law
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