By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan
MANILA, Sept. 7 (PNA) — The Office of Solicitor General (OSG) on Wednesday defended the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte pushing for the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in Lbingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), citing the move is based on Executive Powers.
”As the father of this nation, President Duterte decides to begin the long overdue healing of our nation and to exorcise the ghost of enmity and bitterness that prevent us from moving forward. unfortunately the wisdom and propriety of President Duterte’s well meaning desire to put a closure in this divisive issue has pinched the nerves of some who cannot forget their travails during the martial law era,” Solicitor General Jose Calida said during the continuation of oral arguments of the Supreme Court on six petitions opposing the planned burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City.
Calida said that simple mortuary rites befitting a former president, commander in chief, and soldier now falls upon the shoulders of President Duterte who is tasked to implement the guidelines governing the LNMB.
Calida also said that Marcos is qualified to be buried in LNMB because he is former soldier, president medal of valor, pointing out that the MOU(Memorandum of Understanding) of former President Fidel V. Ramos and former first lady and now Ilocos Norte representative Imelda Marcos which sets the burial of the late strongman in Batak, Ilocos Sur is no longer binding in the present.
“Since April 9, 1994 the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) has been giving Imelda Marcos a monthly pension of PHP5,000 per month as the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran pursuant to R.A. 6948 as amended RA 7696, Calida explained.
He noted that Imelda also receives PHP20,000 from the AFP as a surviving spouse of the medal of valor awardee.
He also explained that former Presidents exercise the same residual power when they decided the freight of marcos remains during their respective terms.
Former President Corazon Aquino flexed her residual power when she barred the return of Marcos’ remains to the country from Hawaii, Calida said.
However, former President Fidel Ramos overturned Aquino’s residual power when he allowed the return of the remains subject to certain conditions.
During his term, former President Joseph Estrada has also expressed his intention to allow the burial of Marcos at the heroes cemetery in order to end the decades-long turmoil over the matter.
Former President Benigno Aquino III, meanwhile, ignored House Resolution 1135 urging him to allow Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Under HR 1135, the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani such act “will be a magnanimous act of reconciliation which will strengthen the bonds of solidarity among Filipino people.
”If the prerogatives of these former Presidents were respected by this Honorable Court, so must it be with President Duterte,” said Calida, who head of the government’s counsel.
Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to begin preparations for Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Calida said the move is a prerogative of the President.
Calida said that President Duterte cannot rightfully be ascribed for grave abuse because under the Constitution, the President’s directive is legal under P.D. 1076.
”I beg that your honors should not be swayed by the epithets and ad hominem arguments of petitioners neither should you allow the momentum for national conciliation and unity to be stalled. Our procedural defenses are sufficient enough to throw out the petitions,” he noted.
Calida also claimed there is no retraumatization with LNMB burial but argues that victims’ reliving their experience in last oral arguments was “retraumatization”.
”There are other venues where pain will be expressed by the victims. Making them recount their experience is a form of re-traumatization,” Calida said.
As of posting, the oral arguments are still proceeding.
The petitioners insisted that allowing Marcos to be buried at the LNMB would distort history, foster division instead of unity and even glorify him despite the numerous human rights violations and rampant graft and corruption during his term.
Among the petitioners were Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales; a group led by former senator Heherson Alvarez; a group of University of the Philippines students; and former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao human rights chair Algamar Latiph.