By Jerry E. Esplanada and Tj Burgonio | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Vice President Jejomar Binay has recommended to President Benigno Aquino III the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ remains in his native Ilocos Norte, with full military honors, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has learned.
A Palace source, who asked not to be named, confirmed that Binay had made such a recommendation.
Edwin Lacierda, the President’s spokesperson, said Malacañang would issue a statement today. “We’re still studying the recommendation,” he told the Inquirer on the phone late yesterday afternoon.
Asked to comment, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appeared warm to the idea.
“It would seem to be a reasonable compromise … a good compromise,” said Marcos, who acknowledged that it was among the options raised and did not express surprise at Binay’s recommendation.
Marcos said that while his family had pushed for his father’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani all these years, it was agreeable to a compromise.
“We don’t want to create problems. We would just like to bury our father in a way that he deserved,” the senator said in an interview.
After Reyes’ suicide
The Marcos family reiterated its appeal to have the late strongman interred at the heroes’ cemetery among former leaders and soldiers after the late Defense Secretary and Armed Forces Chief Angelo Reyes was buried there in February.
Reyes killed himself amid the controversy over purported corruption in the military.
Citing personal bias—being the only son of the late former President Corazon Aquino and the martyred former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., two of the strongman’s biggest political enemies—Mr. Aquino declined to make a decision and assigned Binay to the task.
Shortly after Binay was given the assignment, Senator Marcos and his sister, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, met with the Vice President to present their thoughts on the matter.
Marcos had earlier said that the burial of his father, who ruled with an iron hand for close to 20 years, should be seen as an opportunity for the “unification” of the country.
Yesterday, he said that the family had not changed its position that it was his father’s right to be buried in the Libingan “as a former President, as a former soldier, as a bemedalled soldier.”
The family, which also includes his mother, former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos, and his younger sister, Irene Marcos-Araneta, will likely meet this weekend to discuss Binay’s recommendation, Marcos said.
The senator said they would just “wait for the President” to decide, and take it from there.
“Let’s see where it takes us,” he said, adding that there was no “cut and dried” procedure on the matter.
“I don’t know how much room there is to negotiate. As a matter of fact we only learned about this from you,” he told the Inquirer.
And what if the President agrees to Binay’s recommendation?
Said Marcos: “Then we will carry on and plan.” But he pointed out that it was premature to say how the family would deal with Mr. Aquino’s response.
The strongman was overthrown during the Edsa People Power Revolt in February 1986.
He died in Hawaii on Sept. 28, 1989, and his remains were flown back to the Philippines during the administration of President Fidel Ramos, a distant relative.
His remains rest aboveground in a refrigerated crypt in Batac City, Ilocos Norte.
‘Very balanced’ stand
Early this week, Binay said he was hopeful that the President would announce “within the week” the government’s stand on the strongman’s burial.
He described it as “very balanced,” with “all sides considered.”
“Every opinion from every person who responded to the survey [conducted by the Office of the Vice President] was given consideration,” he said.
In April, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) sent out letters seeking the opinion of various groups and decision-makers on the issue. It also launched a text and e-mail survey to encourage public participation in the matter.
The OVP said it wanted to consult “as many people as possible” before Binay gave the President his recommendation on the best course of action.
Last month, Binay said lawmakers had not sent their official responses to the survey conducted by the OVP, “although some have already expressed their opinion through the media.”
“None of the 130 parties accredited by the Commission on Elections has so far replied to the OVP’s letter seeking their official stand on the issue,” he said.
But his office said it would still wait for “the official stand of the political parties.”
Binay had said he would submit his recommendation to Mr. Aquino in the first week of June.
The Vice President, also the housing czar, was to leave last night on an official trip to the United States that includes taking an international housing finance program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; attending the Philippine Independence Day parade in New York City, the flag-raising program at the Philippine Embassy in Washington; the Rizal Day celebration in Monterey, California; and holding dialogues with leaders and members of Filipino communities.
‘Revisionism at its worst’
Sorsogon Representative Salvador Escudero has filed a resolution urging Malacañang to allow the burial of the strongman’s remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. As many as 216 congressmen have signed it.
Part of House Resolution No. 1135 states: “As the longest serving president of the republic, Ferdinand Marcos built the modern foundations of the Philippines.
“He remained a Filipino patriot to the end of his life and in death deserves to be honored as such.”
But the Makati Business Club (MBC) described the resolution as “historical revisionism at its deceitful worst in an attempt to recast the image of a disgraced leader.”
In a statement, the MBC said it was opposing the proposed burial of the strongman at the Libingan:
“In the end, titles and medals—especially those of dubious provenance—do not a hero make. No hero would deliberately bring suffering upon his people and ruin to his country.
“[T]he MBC believes that by virtue of his profoundly tainted record as the leader of our country, Mr. Marcos forfeited whatever rights he had to being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“The claim that he built the modern foundations of the Philippines is a gross distortion of the late dictator’s true legacy of autocracy, ruined democratic institutions, violent political repression, unprecedented wholesale corruption, shameless nepotism, crony capitalism, a crushing debt burden, and widespread social inequity and marginalization.”