We, the undersigned faculty members of the University of the Philippines Department of Political Science publicly convey our outrage and indignation towards the clandestine and duplicitous burial of former president and dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes).
We view such an action as deceitful and malicious, remembering that in the same light, Marcos insidiously altered and abused the formal democratic institutions of the Republic in order to extend and intensify his grasp of political power at the expense of the Filipino nation. Even beyond death, his legacy remains uncharacteristic of a “hero”. Republic Act 289 states that the Libingan ng mga Bayani was constructed to perpetuate the memory of heroes “for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn”. Marcos’ grave transgressions against the Filipino nation have rendered him unworthy of such an honor.
Throughout his autocratic rule Marcos undermined and even tore down the democratic institutions and processes of the country. His political ambitions and decisions corrupted the political system, leaving a trail of legacies that victimized the Filipino nation for decades beyond his rule.
Marcos subverted the essential checks and balances of our democracy, and thwarted its development by extending the executive’s monopoly of state power and its coercive forces, bruising and scarring the institutions of the Republic.
The justifications that warranted his declaration of Martial Law remain questionable, in light of evidence and testimonies that point to these as concoctions of the late dictator and his accomplices. Marcos’ presidency is infamous for corruption, ill-gotten wealth, extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, human rights violations, and countless atrocities against liberty and freedom. As the chief architect of Martial Law, Marcos scourged the nation and his role in this horrific period of Philippine history should neither be forgotten nor sanitized.
The shift from the 1935 Constitution to the 1973 de Gaullean model — semi-presidential, semi-parliamentary system with strong executive powers — was devised immediately after the declaration of Martial Law — a time when the chief executive’s grasp of power was at its peak, coupled with the coercive and armed establishments of the state. The conduct of the plebiscite for the approval of the 1973 Constitution was far from a genuinely orderly and participatory process.
It was also during Martial Law that the closure of the Congress rendered the legislative branch inutile, thereby spawning a Batasang Pambansa that was dominated by a single political party. It was a body that consented to the whims and caprices of the dictator, with very little or no dissenting voices from within its halls. The independence of the judiciary was also compromised; elections, though held, were manipulated to legitimize the regime; local governments became heavily dependent on the direct patronage provided by Marcos in Malacañang.
Force, manipulation, and fear were in full operation. After all, it was a constitutionally legalized dictatorship that ascended Marcos to the apex of power, fortifying his subordination of the Filipino nation by curtailing the freedom and rights of citizens, controlling the media, and eliminating political forces who opposed his dictatorial rule.
With severely weakened democratic institutions, the Filipino nation saw thereafter the plunder of the Philippine economy. Marcos dislodged the old oligarchy but only to replace it with his cronies who brought the country further to bankruptcy and debt, and exacerbated socio-economic inequities that further impoverished many Filipinos.
Marcos appointed favored military allies to strategic civilian positions in the bureaucracy to serve his authoritarian regime. This “politicization of the military”, as reported by the Davide Fact-Finding Commission in 1990, has resulted in a legacy of coups that made it difficult for the country’s economy to immediately recover and regenerate after Marcos’ downfall in 1986. Marcos disguised authoritarianism and crony capitalism as his way of establishing his “New Society” through political centralization. In truth, it was simply driven by vested interests and elite domination and allowed for the immense marginalization of the common Filipino. All of the people’s aspirations were systematically suppressed by the regime, their basic freedoms and civil liberties were all but annihilated.
Thus, the undersigned faculty view President Rodrigo Duterte’s push to accord Marcos a hero’s burial as grossly misguided and unsympathetic to the thousands of Filipinos who were hunted down, persecuted, and killed by the minions of the dictator. As raised in the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, “[S]tripped to its core, this case involves an order by [the] President [Rodrigo Duterte] to bury a dictator – one declared to have perpetrated human rights violations and plundered the wealth of the nation – with all the trappings of a hero’s burial.”
We also share the Chief Justice’s view that, “as a nation of laws, we cannot tolerate anything less than the full remembrance of a dark past from which we derive lessons that we imbue into the legal firmament”. We, therefore, see the decision of the majority of the Supreme Court justices to proceed with the burial as blind and insensitive towards the nation’s shared political-historical experience of the horrors of Martial Law. This “hero’s burial”, justified by crass legal technicalities can never translate to closure, especially for a nation that continues to be victimized and aggrieved. Heroism is an honor awarded by a nation to its deserving sons and daughters. It can neither be legislated, nor can it simply be judicially bestowed.
Many have perished and many have suffered. And still, many among us continue to seek justice, not only from Marcos and his family, but also from those who have participated in the gross injustices of Marcos’ dictatorial regime. The Marcos’ family and their minions’ continued denial and lack of contrition only aggravate the atrocities past and continuing sufferings of the Filipino people. The hurried, surreptitious burial of the dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is their latest act of indignity to the nation.
All these, we cannot forget and we choose not to forget. For when a despot claims control of an entire nation through force, abuse of power, and oppression, then ultimately, the despot should be held accountable by the people for the ills he incurred our nation, even after his death.
We will always remember. We will never forget.
MEMBERS OF THE FACULTY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, DILIMAN, QUEZON CITY 1101
- Maria Ela L. Atienza, PhD
- Francis Joseph A. Dee, MSc
- Jean S. Encinas-Franco, PhD
- Miriam Coronel Ferrer, MA
- Perlita M. Frago-Marasigan, PhD
- Jan Robert R. Go, MA
- Herman Joseph S. Kraft, MA
- Amado M. Mendoza, Jr., PhD
- Ruth R. Lusterio-Rico, PhD
- Jaime B. Naval, MPP
- Jalton G. Taguibao, MPM
- Jean Paul L. Zialcita, PhD