Just my opinion
By Raissa Robles
A year ago when Benigno Aquino III was courting the people’s vote to clinch the presidency he “unequivocally rejected the idea of allowing a state and hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos which his rival, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar, is supportive of.”
That was what Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Gil Cabacungan reported on February 24, 2010 and I believe him.
One of the reasons I believe Gil is that I was the one who recruited him into news reporting and then trained him when he was a fresh graduate applying for a job at Business Star newspaper, then the business publication of Philippine Star. I used on Gil the techniques I had learned at the Institut für Journalismus in Berlin where I was lucky enough to take a course taught mainly by British editors.
Here is what Gil wrote:
MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Aquino III has unequivocally rejected the idea of allowing a state and hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos which his rival, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar, is supportive of.
“I would like to apologize to the relatives and those who love Mr. Marcos but we still carry the memories of his long years in office, from 1965 to 1986. What has he done that is so special that makes him deserving to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?” said Aquino.
In an interview with reporters following a Makati forum, Aquino said the country continued to suffer from problems that were created under Marcos’ rule and the promises he made that he turned his back on.
“Why should we honor him by burying him at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?” he said.
Aquino said it was not surprising the NP would support a hero’s burial for Marcos considering that his son, Ferdinand Jr., was on its senatorial slate.
In a press conference at LP headquarters, Aquino campaign manager Florencio Abad Jr. said that while the issue of a hero’s burial was never discussed among the party’s senatorial candidates, he said the LP had consistently opposed the idea.
“That is reserved for heroes and we do not concede that Marcos is a hero. We still have to find closure to many abuses our people suffered in terms of political repression, the conjugal hypocrisy and many other issues,” said Abad.
Aquino said his family and supporters had celebrated the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986 for the past 24 years because this has been the “defining moment of the country’s departure from the darkness.”
“Those who are attacking Edsa and its ideals are actually helping us clarify the principles that we are fighting for,” he said.
Aquino said he remained keen on uplifting the quality of politics in the country by sticking to the issues and avoiding making personal attacks against his rivals.
Now, instead of rejecting outright the plan for a hero’s burial for Marcos, PNoy has chosen to pass on the political hot potato to Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
In turn, Binay has chosen to pass it on to the Filipino people. Text and Facebook me, he says.
Binay is probably trying to find a way to please both the Marcos supporters and non-Marcos supporters. But he is also smart enough to know that if Marcos gets a hero’s burial, he could be facing THE SON OF A HERO as a rival in the 2016 presidential elections.
I can understand both their reluctance to decide on this subject. PNoy’s advisers are probably telling him it’s not good to take on so many political enemies at the same time. They tend to band together. He has to choose which battles to fight. And for now, he has chosen to fight Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by having one of her closest allies, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, impeached.
The battles, though, are intertwined.
If PNoy lets Marcos be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani because Marcos was once President, then the Filipino nation can look forward to letting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo be buried there for the same reason that she was once the president.
But not burying Marcos there gives the signal to future generations that hey, when you are the President, if you betray the people’s trust you don’t deserve a place there.
It’s like being impeached from the presidency forever and ever.
I mean, if the name Libingan ng mga Bayani never meant diddly-squat before, isn’t it high time it gets to mean SOMETHING?
(As for the late military chief Angelo Reyes being buried there, the Philippine military sneaked that one past a shocked nation.)