Lagman: Marcos' burial at Libingan an 'undeserved reward'

MANILA, Philippines – Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos does not deserve to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani or the Heroes' Cemetery.  

In a privilege speech on Tuesday, August 9, Lagman said President Rodrigo Duterte had contradicted himself by approving Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

"President Duterte in his State of the Nation Address said: 'I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past…except maybe extract a lesson or two from its errors…lest I be misunderstood, let me state clearly, that those who betrayed the people's trust must not go unpunished and… they will have their day of reckoning too,'" Lagman noted.

"The predisposition of President Duterte to bury the late President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a gross departure from his foregoing statement. The interment of Marcos' remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is an undeserved reward; it is not a day of reckoning," added Lagman. 

Duterte previously said he sees "nothing wrong" with the burial, as Marcos is a former soldier and former Philippine president. The government is currently preparing for Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Lagman, who is now a member of a multi-sectoral coalition against the transfer of Marcos' remains, listed several reasons why the late dictator should not be buried there. 

The lawmaker described the list as "12 cardinal sins of Marcos [that] make him unfit for hero's burial":

According to Lagman, the widespread corruption, killings, torture, disappearances, and oppression of media under Marcos' 21-year rule make him unfit to join the ranks of those currently buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. 

"Verily, the Libingan ng mga Bayani is the hallowed graveyard for heroes and patriots, not of despots and plunderers. Heroes eternally rest in the people's embrace and admiration, while villains forever agonize in disgrace," said Lagman.

"The late President Ferdinand Marcos must not be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani which is reserved for authentic heroes and patriots or for those who are presumed to be heroes and patriots because their records do not document the contrary," he added. 

Two of Duterte's allies in the Senate – Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano – even disagreed with the President's decision to give Marcos a hero's burial.

Arrests, torture, media ban, debts 

Lagman's speech was filled with figures and data, which he said prove that Marcos does not deserve a hero's burial.

He said the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines recorded a total of 92,607 unwarranted arrests during the Marcos regime. 

"Partial listing of torture cases over the same period [on] September 1972 to February 1986 reached 5,531; summary execution, 2,537; and involuntary disappearances, 783," said Lagman, who co-authored Republic Act Number 10368 which recognizes the sacrifices of martial law victims. 

The legislator from the Liberal Party said Marcos had also closed down 292 radio stations, 66 community newspapers, 11 English weekly magazines, 7 major English dailies, 7 television stations, 4 Chinese dailies, 3 Filipino dailies, one English-Filipino 1 daily, and one Spanish daily.   

Lagman said that Marcos' "insatiable appetite" for foreign loans "jacked up the Philippine foreign debt from $1 billion at the start of his presidency in 1965 to $28 billion by the time he fled the country in 1986." (READ: Marcos years marked 'golden age' of PH economy? Look at the data)

"He submerged the economy to below zero (0). Standing out was its record of having been the only administration to register a negative GDP growth. The economy grew negatively at -7% in 1984," Lagman said.

He added that in 1984, inflation was at 50.3%, "the highest" among all the past administrations in the country. 

Not in conscience

Later in his speech, Lagman said that most Filipinos' "pervasive nonchalance" on Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is being replaced by the growing voice of those who oppose the move.  

He said they include human rights advocates and the families of the desaparecidos (disappeared) who continue in their quest to find their loved ones alive or dead to give them a proper burial in a decent cemetery. (READ: 'Buti pa si Marcos may bangkay,' says sister of missing martial law victim)

"Unlike the Marcoses, they, along with the families of those who were extrajudicially killed, do not aspire to having their departed kin laid to rest in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, though they have the undisputed attributes of heroes and martyrs," said Lagman. 

"We cannot in conscience impress the late President Marcos with the same sterling people-centered causes for which human rights victims, particularly desaparecidos, sacrificed and forfeited their lives." – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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