Confirming the political leverage used for the Marcos LNMB burial

RECENTLY we wrote about how the various administrations from Cory Aquino all the way to her son Noynoy and now Rodrigo Duterte had dealt with the Marcos Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) burial for political leverage. Basically, they recognized during their campaign for office and tenure that the Marcoses were a political force to contend with and that such dealings – whether to keep the peace or just plain horse trading – were necessary.

Two recent events basically upheld the events we chronicled in that article. First was the press conference of Fidel V. Ramos last Monday, 21 November 2016, whose presidency saw the return of Ferdinand E. Marcos’ body into the Philippines. According to the presscon report by interaksyon.com:

At his press conference Monday, Ramos reminded the public of the agreement his administration entered into with the Marcos family, which says that the latter is to be buried in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Ramos had said this was the main reason he agreed to allow Marcos’ remains to be repatriated to Manila from Hawaii, where he lived in exile since the 1986 EDSA people power revolt until his death in 1989.

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Page one of the MOU between the Ramos government and Imelda Marcos

To recall, we had written in the article:

Among the deals made by the Ramos campaign was to allow Marcos’ body home. The strength of the Marcos family was obvious to them as Bongbong Marcos, who ran in that election for congressman of Ilocos Norte, had started their reinstatement in their political stronghold. Their support for Ramos was among the factors that helped in the slight victory over Santiago. In 1993, Ramos fulfilled his promise and lifted the ban on Marcos’ body being brought home. But he put his foot down on the burial and allowed the body to be flown directly to Ilocos Norte. Not wanting to force the issue and take their victories one small step at a time, the Marcos family did as was told

Ramos had shown in his presscon a memorandum of understanding signed between his Secretary of Interior Rafael Alunan III and Imelda Marcos.

Yesterday Alunan posted on facebook the documents Ramos was pertaining to with the following message:

I’m posting here a photocopy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that I signed with Mrs Imelda Marcos regarding the return to the Philippines of the former strongman’s remains.

Do take note of the handwritten correction by Mrs Marcos which was done after we had signed the MOU where it was clear that FM’s remains would be BURIED in Batac, Ilocos Norte, and not “temporarily interred,” which must have come to her in hindsight. Note her lone counter-signature, without mine, to signify conformity because it was done on the sly. That’s why Malacanan never had the MOU notarised because it reeked of bad faith.

In that same paragraph 4, it was also said that “…any transfer of burial grounds shall be with prior clearance from the Philippine Government taking into account the prevailing socio-political climate.” As an objective observer, the Marcos family respected the MOU till the end of FVR’s term and all the way up to the term of PNoy Aquino. While Erap briefly flirted with the idea, he eventually backed off.

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Page Two of the MOU between the Ramos government and Imelda Marcos

PRRD’s political promise to bury the late FM’s remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNB) was supported by the Supreme Court. I believe that his overriding consideration to close the chapter on FM to unite the nation was in good faith, just as his peace initiatives with all rebel groups to forge national unity to enable us to face our diverse security threats requiring “whole-of-nation” focus and resolve.

Unfortunately, in my assessment, it was a bad miscalculation because instead of closing the gap, it widened it all the more as the wounds apparently didn’t heal despite the passage of 30yrs since FM’s ouster in ’86. Why? Because the Marcos family failed to acknowledge the damage of almost 21yrs of misrule to the nation; and, failed to atone for it with proper indemnification.

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Page three of the MOU between the Ramos government and Imelda Marcos

It is a fact of life anywhere in the world that there can be no peace without appropriate justice; no mercy and compassion without atonement. Ask South Africa, they know it only too well. They faced each other and voluntarily confessed all their sins during their murderous period of racial hatred, bigotry and discrimination to beg forgiveness and vow proper restitution. Look where it is now.

In the meantime, PRRD can move fast to mitigate the blowback from his miscalculation. He can cause LEDAC to approve the creation of a distinct and exclusive pantheons for Presidents under the National Historical Commission, separate from the LNB which is under the DND-AFP. It may not close the gap entirely but that would be factual common ground that no one could argue about.

The Marcos controversy has gone full circle, or 360 degrees, for me the time FM was reelected President in November,1968 to the time he was buried in LNB on November, 2016. Over a span of 48yrs., I’ve witnessed and experienced the Marcos drama – from the 1Q Storm of student power in 1969-70, to the days of rage after Ninoy Aquino’s murder in 1983-85, to the snap elections and People Power in Feb. ’86, to the coup attempts between 1986-89, to the MOU with Imelda Marcos in 1992, to FM’s hasty burial in LNB a few days ago.

I conclude with this thought: If we want to forgive, forget and move on, we must face the truth head-on and right our wrongs with justice. That goes for the FM era and all others that followed who deceived, betrayed, stole, lied and killed as he did. Most important of all, we must strive to learn the lessons from our checkered history, otherwise, we’re bound to repeat them

It’s clear that as those decades passed the various administrations made deals with the Marcoses and the burial issue. Even when it was seemingly quiet on that front the administration in power made sure that the issue worked to their advantage

Even Noynoy Aquino’s declaration of “Not in my watch” came late in the day, way into his presidency, although his sycophants now herald it as the unwavering and principled stand by their idol. But the deal he made via his congressional buddy Imee Marcos was when he was to run for office, and even in the early months of his presidency there was a clear and unequivocal statement of support from his office via his deputy spokesman Abigail Valte who affirmed Marcos’ inclusion in the Armed Forces of the Philiuppines’ hall of heroes – an Armed Forces of which Noynoy was Commander in Chief.

Likewise clear is the fact that as each administration passed the Marcos political power kept growing and wider. Once a family in exile, it crawled back in through their home front in Ilocos Norte and now stands erect in the national consciousness. Bongbong won a senate seat in a big way in 2010. And did not make it to the vice presidency by a very slim margin, a margin that has opened a lot of questions among his voters and opened the door to a possibly surmountable legal protest at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

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