By Federico D. Pascual Jr. | The Philippine Star
PRECEDENT: Somebody looking like Gregory Peck has commented on Twitter that the final and executory decision of President Noynoy Aquino withholding state honors during the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos may set a bad precedent.
Former Bulacan congressman Willie Villarama tweeted: “Problema kung magkakaroon ng ganyang precedent. Wala ng malilibing doon. Lahat ng pulitiko may ‘nakaraan’.” (Loosely: As all politicians have a “past,” none of them would qualify for state honors.)
He has a point. It seems from the pronouncement of President Aquino that his opinion alone is enough to bar any former Chief Executive or high military official, although not convicted by final judgment, from interment in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Resting Place of Heroes) and receiving state honors even when buried elsewhere.
* * *
NEW RULE: There is still in effect AFP Regulations G 161-373 laying down the policy, the criteria and the procedure for those who would be interred at the Libingan.
Under those regulations, issued by then President Cory Aquino, the incumbent president’s mother, the late Mr. Marcos is qualified under any of four of the 10 categories (Medal of Valor awardee, former president, former defense secretary, and as World War II veteran).
But now, President Aquino has added by mere passing comment, without benefit of an official order, his own requirement that the deceased must pass his (“under my watch”) moral judgment.
* * *
SMARTING: It does not matter to the President that the deceased strongman was not dishonorably discharged nor convicted with finality of an offense involving moral turpitude, and that while he had been accused of some crimes, he was never convicted.
Under our system of laws, Mr. Marcos died an innocent man. But that is of no moment to the son of Cory Aquino who sounded like he was still smarting from something.
The last survey I saw showed 52 percent of those polled favored burying Marcos with state honors. But President Aquino, citing the many victims of martial law, said something about the need for apology, justice and restitution.
* * *
WORD OF HONOR: An intriguing point is Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ reacting with a pained statement that President Aquino has no word of honor. In Tagalog, one would say “walang isang salita.”
This raised speculation that there must have been an understanding between the Aquinos and the Marcoses, presumably revolving around the formula proposed by Vice President Jojo Binay calling for a state burial not in the Libingan but in the Ilocos. The compromise was well received in most places.
The Marcoses must have been led to believe, especially during the 2010 campaign when Noynoy Aquino was soliciting votes for his presidential bid, that an Aquino victory would pave the way for the Marcos patriarch finally being buried with appropriate honor.