By Jaime Pilapil | The Manila Times
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday declared that there would be no hero’s burial for late former President Ferdinand Marcos under his watch.
He said that it would be the “height of injustice” to give honor to a person who made the people suffer during the martial law years.
“It really would be the height of injustice to render any state honor to the person who was the direct mastermind of all of this suffering. I will not be sanctioning a burial for the late President Marcos... not under my watch,” President Aquino told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines during the traditional question-and-answer portion of the open forum.
The President said that many of those who suffered under martial law were yet to be compensated and the Marcos family was yet to apologize to the victims.
Thousands of political opponents went missing or were killed under the Marcos regime and the Marcos 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.
His embalmed body is stored in a crypt at the family home and his family has been leading calls to have him buried at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery.
The Aquino family was also a victim of the Marcos regime.
President Aquino’s father, former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was ordered detained by Marcos.
To escape persecution, the Aquino family had to flee to the United States.
Aquino. Jr. was killed in the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport in 1983 when he returned from exile.
The airport was eventually named after him.
The elder Aquino’s assassination ignited the Filipinos’ indignation that led to a bloodless revolution in 1986 that installed Corazon Aquino as the new president.
The incumbent President earlier gave Vice President Jejomar Binay the task to give recommendations if the late strongman deserves full military honors or his remains should be buried in Ilocos Norte province, not at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
After conducting a survey of various stakeholders such as the public, political parties and civil society groups, Binay recommended that Marcos be buried with full military honors in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.
He said that Mr. Aquino’s decision should be respected.
SEN. Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr., the only son of the late strongman, was disappointed by the President’s declaration, saying that it only showed that Mr. Aquino was incapable of exercising good leadership.
Marcos believes that President Aquino wasted a very good opportunity to unify the country.
“He would like to continue this division we have in our country, obviously he does not want to heal divisions, he wants to widen these divisions which brings us to conclude that he is not a natural leader,” he told reporters.
When asked about plans of the Marcos family, the senator said that they do not have any because he believes that all efforts have been exerted to justify the request for a state burial.
“Where is the promise he (President Aquino) made during the campaign? He just made those statements then just to get votes from Ilocos,” Marcos said.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that the statement of Mr. Aquino was reasonable and should be respected.
Enrile, who served as the Minister of Defense under the Marcos administration, added that it is a very sensitive issue as far as the two families are concerned.
“He is a son (Mr. Aquino) of the man who was slain and I think we have to understand him and respect his feelings,” he said.