EDITORIAL | Make them regret it
The online news portal of TV5
On the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, President Duterte is responsible and he will ultimately be proven wrong. But that is not to say that his allowing it was impeachable. It is not. It was political prerogative - a gamble, a gambit, maybe even a deal - exercised on legal footing.
The Supreme Court assures him so. The President had the right. Which is not to say that either of them was right. Indeed, worse than risking being wrong, nine justices voted to merely make the High Court irrelevant. Marcos is not only NOT a hero, in 1987 his despotism became the very basis for an entire new Constitution, a wholly rebooted republic reconsecrated not to national independence or republican trends, but to human rights, democracy, and good government. The arguably paranoid Constitution under which we now strive was hammered out not only with those ideals in mind, but with bloodied survivors doodling on the margins: #NeverAgain.
The Supreme Court says there is no law (and Duterte says there is no movie) that calls out Marcos as a criminal unworthy of anything. The government has written out checks to thousands in reparation for human rights victims, specifically human rights victims of the Marcos regime. Our Bill of Rights was reformulated and strengthened so that only courts can issue warrants. Just between and among us Filipinos, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is now nearly impossible to suspend, Duterte's blithe musings notwithstanding. And the PCGG was created specifically to recover billions of dollars in Marcos' ill-gotten wealth.
There is no mention of Marcos in the Constitution not because he was out of mind. Search not the Constitution for his name, but scour instead the minutes of every committee of the Commission that drafted the charter. There reminders of Marcos' atrocities will have been intoned with such frequency and degree as to make it obvious: the omission is the actual recognition of the evil by which that name is officially denounced.
As Lady Sansa said to Ramsay Bolton: "Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear."
Except that Sansa - raped, tortured, mocked, her home pillaged, but ultimately the survivor and victor - then made sure she fed her tormentor to the dogs. In stark contrast, our government - our governments - struck deals for the Marcos clan to come home before any apology, without acknowledging any sins, much less returning any loot and doing justice by their human rights victims. We let Imelda run for President. Elected her children to Congress. Leaders, legislators, politicians signed resolutions endorsing Marcos to the LNMB long before Digong came into the picture. Then the Supreme Court voted to keep itself out of it.
It was into this pathetic history that Duterte, first as a candidate and then as President, finally stepped in to say: "Let's just do this and move on."
So we know how we got here. Duterte was not alone in leading.
But he was still misguided.
Where his avowed goal is national healing, his action in fact only reopened very deep, painful wounds. Where Duterte joins Bongbong Marcos in urging people to move on, they have only succeeded to rouse the marchers. Where they insist this is a petty fight among political families of the past, they have only woken the youth who evidently somehow learned - as Duterte's own mother railed - that Marcos' rule is about tens of thousands of human rights victims, a nation stunted and still handicapped by decades of unparalleled kleptocracy, about values and direction of a whole nation.
Make no mistake, President Duterte must be held accountable for whatever comes next. Discord, disunity... violence?
But what if Filipinos do in fact move on? If even those most outraged today run out of stamina tomorrow; if the protests do not grow and in fact never make it out of Facebook; if this insult does not disrupt nor even interrupt talks with the Left for whom "a just and lasting peace" is a pillar of negotiation; if, as Bongbong has exhumed his father, there is no effort to breathe new life into the cases against their entire clan…
In other words, if there is no political price to pay... then Duterte deserves the chance to prove that there is progress worth the perilous path of denial and apathy that we all will have paved.
As a politician, the President must be persuaded that burying Marcos at the LNMB is not only a mistake, it is not worth it. Appealing to his political sensibilities may seem a long shot or wishful thinking. But it is no more delusional than counting on the SC Justices to take away the President's options after they gave it to him. It is certainly no more delusional than insisting that underneath the anti-Marcos movement is a silent anti-Duterte majority.
Duterte, as Father of the Nation, can take it as tantrums of temperamental brats, or he can take it as well-meaning warning: If he wants the nation to heal, listening to Bongbong will only be damaging.
The Marcoses, too, must be made to regret. In wanting us to forgive, Bongbong should meet a people decidedly more unforgiving. We are asked to unite behind indifference to atrocities; let us be more obnoxious about justice. Bongbong would bury his father. Let us unearth everything we have forgotten or may have overlooked, particularly over the quarter century that Marcos Sr. was lying peacefully in a private mausoleum in Batac. The son thinks it a triumph to have transferred his father to a public cemetery imbued with higher public purpose? He should see, everyday, what exactly he wished for.
Two dates, two rallies, two venues - neither of which is anywhere near the LNMB - frankly make for ridiculous, comical scenes when both purport to make a point about how Bongbong's making a political pawn of his father's corpse will unite those who #NeverForget. But we suspect – and any truly loving Marcos child should fear - that there will be not a few moments when beyond the rallies, groups and individuals will indeed be visiting LNMB and paying Marcos the respect they think he deserves.
Nothing can stop them. Nothing should stop them. The LNMB is a public place. No Filipino should be denied entry, nor even be so much as questioned as to why he or she is there. Force the Supreme Court to explain that to Duterte, so he can shrug when Bongbong requests for round-the-clock security for their plot.
Just saying: It will be an impossible task keeping that tomb spotless. If Marcos taught Filipinos that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, Filipinos will likely prove to Bongbong that that too is the price he and his siblings will pay just to convince themselves they did not unearth their father to subject him to… what?
For as long as the Marcoses insist that Ferdinand Sr. deserves a hero's spot in land that we all own, his resting place will be anything but. Around that plot will erupt a battle to create a symbol. Of what? Of moving on or of refusing to budge? When the day comes, will you go to the gravesite? What will you bring? Flowers? Candles? Or things less fragrant?
Filipinos will move on, one way or another. The question is, to what? Whether the Marcoses will regret or gloat, whether we move on or march forward, will be determined by each Filipino's completing this sentence: "One day I will visit that grave and ____________."