MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Debate Union (PDU) on Saturday, August 20, condemned the planned burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
In a statement, the nationwide association of college debate societies said that to transfer Marcos from Batac, Ilocos Norte to the Libingan ng mga Bayani would be an injustice.
"To bury Marcos at the Libingan would be morally reprehensible," PDU said. "It is an injustice to the thousands of victims of Martial Law who, in their ongoing search for closure, had endured decades worth of suffering."
According to Amnesty International, about 70,000 people were imprisoned while 34,000 were tortured and 3,240 were killed during Martial Law from 1972 to 1981. (READ: Worse than death: Torture methods during martial law)
"We call upon the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to recognize this and discontinue his plan to give the former dictator the honor of a hero's burial," PDU said.
For the group, matters concerning the Marcos administration "are not up for a debate."
"We urge the Filipino nation, especially the youth of today, to ask what is heroism? PDU believes that heroes are persons of integrity, honesty, and selflessness," the group said.
"Gross violation of human rights warrants none of these traits."
Corruption and lies
Duterte has repeatedly said that the decision to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is based solely on Marcos being a Filipino soldier and a former president.
PDU, however, said that being a soldier and a president are "not enough justification to be buried a hero."
"Burial at the Libingan is denied to soldiers dismissed for offenses involving moral turpitude, of which Marcos is certainly guilty," the group said.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) also disputed Marcos' record as a soldier during World War II, saying it is "fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies.” (READ: NHCP objects to Marcos burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani)
"He inherited a strong economy and left it in shambles by the time he was ousted by popular revolution," the group said. "His presidency eroded our political institutions and cemented a legacy of impunity in politics, leaving us a debt we have to repay until 2025."
The statement was signed by 21 leaders of debate organizations based in colleges and universities across the country, including Lyceum Debate Society from Duterte's alma mater Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila.
The planned burial, PDU said, will not unite the Philippines.
"In no way will his burial bring unity to the country," the group said.
"The call to move on limits the public imagination, excluding any narrative that can be described as truly unifying for there can be no unity without justice," it added. (READ: #AnimatED: Marcos, Duterte and burying our history)
PDU is the latest organization to express opposition to the planned hero's burial for Marcos.