MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Kabayan Representative Harry Roque filed a bill seeking to rename the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) to the Libingan ng mga Bayani at mga Dating Pangulo (Cemetery of Heroes and Former Presidents.)
Roque filed House Bill Number 3287 on Wednesday, August 24, the same day the Supreme Court (SC) issued a status quo ante order prohibiting for the next 20 days all parties involved from burying the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
In his explanatory note, Roque noted that various groups, lawmakers, Martial Law victims, and their relatives have opposed transferring Marcos’ remains from Batac, Ilocos Norte to the Libingan ng mga Bayani on September 18 “given the human rights record of the Martial Law years.”
“The State, in the spirit of democratic deliberation, may address the simmering controversy through the People’s representatives in Congress, through a legislative act that honors the memories of those who suffered under Martial Law as well as affords a former President of the Republic a final resting place for his remains,” said Roque.
“By renaming the ‘Libingan ng Mga Bayani’ to ‘Libingan ng Mga Bayani at Mga Dating Pangulo,’ we can defer from judging whether a former president was or was not a ‘hero.’ Let the people’s memory be the judge – not the whims of a certain administration,” the lawmaker added.
Killings, torture, disappearances, corruption, and media oppression were perpetuated during Marcos’ 21-year rule, prompting Martial Law victims to file several petitions before the High Court to stop a hero’s burial for the former dictator.
Despite these, President Rodrigo Duterte said Marcos can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he is a former soldier and president. (READ: Duterte: Marcos ‘not a hero’ but 'law' allows burial at Libingan)