By Emil Jurado | Manila Standard Today
President Benigno Aquino III is truly his mother’s son, not the political martyr Ninoy Aquino’s.
By this, I mean that President is overly sensitive when it comes to questions pertaining to his personal life—his love life and his hobbies like guns, sports cars, and especially video games.
Like his mother, the late President Cory, Pnoy doesn’t relish criticism, well-intentioned or otherwise.
In contrast, the late Ninoy thrived on criticism. I used to ask him why, every time I dropped by his Times Street residence on my way to my office at the defunct Philippines Herald. In those days, Cory, who was always in the kitchen, served us coffee. Ninoy said that politicians like him were always criticized by the public. This was then an opportunity for him to explain his side, or even convince his critics to see things his way.
The late President Cory was the opposite. Once, she invited columnists to break bread with her in Malacañang. I asked her: “Madame President, why is it that you are overly sensitive to criticism, while your late husband, Ninoy, was not?”
Her response floored me. I cannot forget it to this day. She said: “Well, Ninoy is dead. I’m now President!”
President Aquino told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines that the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos would not be given state honors for his burial under his watch. This was an emotional response to a question. Aquino should have responded like a statesman. This is an issue that has long divided the country.
Aquino said that the country, especially human rights victims, suffered under Marcos during martial law. Thus, giving Marcos a state burial would be a great injustice.
I understand where the President is coming from. His father was imprisoned and later assassinated during the martial law era. Still, he could have addressed the question more logically and objectively.
For one thing, the President had commissioned Vice President Jejomar Binay to get the public pulse on this emotional issue. Binay eventually recommended that Marcos be interred with full military honors in his home province of Ilocos Norte.
In fact, AFP Regulation G161-373, with the subject “Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the LNMB” issued on April 9, 1986 by GHQ AFP under then-AFP Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos, and signed by then-President Corazon C. Aquino, prescribes who could be interred at the Libingan.
Under these regulations, Marcos deserves to be buried with state honors because he qualified as a Medal of Valor Awardee, a President or Commander-in-Chief of the AFP, DND secretary, a war veteran and a guerilla leader. Santa Banana Aquino even repudiated his late mother who issued the burial protocol.
So what is the use of having Binay make a recommendation when the President had already made up his mind? It may be the President’s prerogative to finally decide on the issue, but why did he have Binay go through the rigmarole of getting the public pulse? It’s hypocritical!
It was an opportunity for President Aquino to heal wounds of long standing. He could have united the country, but he failed. Since there’s no closure to this highly divisive issue, Aquino may find it more difficult to move the country forward, fixated as he is against his predecessor—immediate and otherwise.
I can understand the dismay of the Marcos family, especially that of Senator Bongbong Marcos and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, who questioned the fact that Binay had made a recommendation which they had reportedly accepted.
As an Ilocano myself, I believe that the President’s final decision could be a blessing in disguise for those who still believe in Marcos. Note that when you enter the province of Ilocos Norte coming from the South, there’s an arc which says “Marcos Pa Rin. Marcos Forever.” That’s how Ilocos Norte regards the late President.
Personally, while many may have a lot of things to say against Marcos, I believe history is the better judge, unless of course, historians will distort history as they often do for their own agenda.
The alternative now for the Marcoses is to bury the remains of the former President in an air-conditioned crypt in Sarrat, not with state honors, but military honors. They can also have a shrine put up either in Batac, where he was born, or in Sarrat, where the Marcos museum is located. That way, those who believe in him can perpetuate his memory.