The Daily Tribune - Noynoy: No state burial; Bongbong: No good faith

13 October 2011

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan | The Daily Tribune

The-Daily-TribunePresident Aquino rejected yesterday any form of state honor for former President Ferdinand Marcos, earning a scathing reply from the former strongman’s son Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. accusing Aquino of not capable of honoring his words.

It was “very hard to deal in good faith” with Aquino, Marcos said.

Marcos added Aquino should now consider him as among the strong critics of the administration in the Senate.

”It’s not an act of a leader who should promote unity for this country,” Marcos said.

Sanctioning a state burial or any government honors for Marcos would dishonor the memory of those who died or suffered fighting the dictatorship, Aquino said.

“I am not sanctioning a (state) burial under my watch for the late President Marcos. It sends the wrong message,” Aquino told reporters.

“It really would be, I think, the height of injustice to confer any honors,” he added.

Marcos did not mince words in expressing his disgust over the President whom he felt merely taken him and his family for a ride when Aquino directed Vice President Jejomar Binay to study the feasibility of the

deposed leader being finally laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in the light of calls of some sectors in 2010.

“It is very hard to deal in good faith with somebody who does not have one word on the subject. I was surprised actually. All along, it turned out, all these talks, negotiations and debates were mere zarzuela,” Marcos said in issuing a mouthful against the President.

“We have never closed the door (on talks). We have always been open to discussion, we have been open to negotiations. But unless there are two parties who are open to negotiation, open to discussion then there is no point (in dealing with it). It is a futile exercise. And that is what happened now,” Marcos added.

“It turns out, it was a futile exercise. It was play-acting on his part, on the President’s part. And I am very disappointed that we cannot count on our President to have one word. We cannot count on our president to exercise and exhibit leadership unifying our country. We only wasted time and energy in this zarzuela,” he added.

“Clearly the thing to do for a leader is to unify our country and to continue this division and to widen those division is not the act of a leader, not the act of a head of state. It is not the act of somebody who is trying to bring the country together. It is the act of somebody to promote the divisiveness of partisan politics,” Marcos added.

The senator criticized Aquino for bringing to naught the efforts of Vice President Jejomar Binay and in not giving due consideration to the resolution of the House of Representatives for the administration to allow the former president to be buried at the hero’s cemetery.

A total of 218 congressmen, mostly composed of administration allies, have signed the resolution principally authored by Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III that also recognized Marcos’ being a former veteran of World War II, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, and his contributions as the longest-sitting president who ruled for 20 years.

“I’m just wondering why we were led to believe that after all the efforts and recommendations, it will not even be considered. Everything, it seemed, do not have any meaning to the President. His appreciation of the issue seems to be dense.

“As I’ve said, it’s hard to look for a solution if the person you’re dealing with is indecisive and do not have any word of honor,” Marcos said.

Aquino said that more than the Marcoses, the government should give attention to the victims of his dictatorship who have not even gotten any reasonable compensation from the Marcos family. He said as long as he is President, he would not sanction a State burial for former President Marcos.

“They have not been accorded an apology, the compensation bill is still pending, and it would be really I think the height of injustice to render any honors to the person who was the direct mastermind of all their suffering. So I think I will not, I am sanctioning—not under my watch—sanctioning a burial for the late President Marcos,” Aquino lamented.

“I think you cannot divorce what happened during the Martial Law years with the totality of his, you know, of his public life. And it serves as a wrong message—demeans the honors given to others of a similar nature—to render the same to a person that has inflicted such suffering on our people after having promised to serve them,” he added.

The Marcoses, citing the former strongman’s war exploits and his achievements as president, have been asking the government to allow the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but had been repeatedly denied even during the past administrations.

Up until now, former President Marcos body is on display at his ancestral home which has been turned into a museum in the town of Batac Ilocos Norte.

Marcos even went on in accusing the President of reneging on his campaign promise when President Aquino went on campaign in Northern Luzon on this matter.

“One thing he mentioned that the moment he assumes the post, he will have this studied and he did so when he asked Binay to look into this. Still, it ended up with nothing. We’re back with square one. They put to waste everything we said,” he said.

Marcos said it all boils down to one fact that his campaign promise was merely a lip service, aimed at winning only the votes of the people.

“He has wasted a very good opportunity to unify the nation. The job of the President is not to engage in partisan politics but to unify the nation. And that is apparently not his tendency. He would like to continue what division we have in our country. Obviously he does not want to heal those divisions. He wants to widen those divisions which brings to the conclusion that he is not a natural leader,” Marcos added.

Asked on the Marcos family’s option, the senator said they have none.

“What option do we have left? None. He will lay in state in Ilocos (Norte). We’re not the ones who closed the door on this matter,” he emphasized.

Marcos declared martial law in 1972, near the end of his second and final four-year elected term, and ruled as a dictator until a popular revolt toppled him from power in 1986.

Both of the current president’s parents were democracy icons and his father, also named Benigno Aquino, was assassinated by Marcos security forces at Manila airport in 1983.

He was among thousands of political opponents who went missing or were killed under the regime, and the dictator’s family was accused of plundering up to $10 billion from the nation according to one government estimate.

Successive governments have launched an array of lawsuits and other legal efforts to recover the funds, but they have largely failed and no member of the Marcos family has gone to jail.

When Marcos was toppled, he and his family fled into exile in Hawaii, where he died in 1989.

Marcos’ wife and children returned to the Philippines after his death and have since regained political influence.

Marcos’ embalmed body is now stored in a crypt at the family home and his family has been leading calls to have him buried at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he understands the feelings of Aquino for turning down a state funeral for Marcos under his administration.

“I would understand the feelings of the President. He is the son of the man who was slain,” the veteran lawmaker said.