In a few months, we will finally see the burial of President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, 27 years after the late president’s death. This is one of the first major national policies of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. And in deciding to allow the Marcos burial in the Heroes’ Cemetery, President Duterte absolutely made the right call.
Better late than never, as they always say. It is better to bury President Marcos now 27 years after his death than just letting his corpse freeze in Ilocos Norte. Call it poetic justice if you want, the late president will now get what he is due: a burial befitting a former Commander-in-Chief and a soldier who risked his life in the line of duty during the Second World War.
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And why should we not bury President Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery? The AFP has already explained the rules for a person to be qualified for burial in the Heroes’ Cemetery. Marcos fits the qualifications set by the Department of National Defense. Marcos was a soldier who served in the Second World War, awarded the Medal of Valor. He is one of only around 40 Filipinos to have even received the award. He received the award when he was still only a Congressman of Ilocos Norte, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur also personally recognized Marcos’ services during the war.
Marcos was a former President, thrice elected in democratic elections (1965, 1969, 1981; four if you count 1986). Besides being a war veteran as previously mentioned, Marcos as Commander-in-Chief led the Philippines through a tumultuous era: the Cold War. The communists came in and launched a protracted war against the Philippine state. The situation was made worse when Moro rebels in the South tried to secede.
Being the United States’ mainstay in Asia, Marcos made sure the Philippines performed its part to make sure that the communists would not emerge victorious in the Cold War. First, by allowing America to use the country as a jump-off point towards Vietnam. Second, by suppressing the communist rebellion and preventing them from taking over the state apparatus and wreak havoc upon the entire nation as they did in China and North Korea.
When duty called, Marcos answered and performed his job as executive by declaring martial law to quell the rebellion. Martial law ushered in an era of stability after years of uprisings by the communists. When human rights abuses were reported, Marcos took responsibility and did what he had to do: 8,800 military officers were fired from the AFP during martial law due to complaints of human rights abuses. Regardless of how one looks at it, Marcos dutifully performed his job as President of the Republic. It was thanks to his government’s policies that the Philippine state remains standing and whole, not under a communist government nor is it one region smaller.
His loyalists would say he is a hero, his detractors would call him an evil dictator. But what I would say is this, Ferdinand E. Marcos was a man who served his country nobly as a soldier, and as President, made the right decisions when duty called. Marcos was a man who knew how to deal with the circumstances of his time. He is not the evil man that the left and the oligarchs accuse him of being. I am glad that on September 1972, at a time of global crisis and national instability, it was Ferdinand Marcos in Malacanang and not anyone else.
The Marcos detractors have emerged again ahead of his burial. Those people are promoting hate, they’re promoting instability, they’re promoting national fragmentation, they’re promoting bigotry, they’re promoting violence, the very things they accused Marcos of. Millennials are scapegoated as Marcos apologists, but when I saw the Bongbong Marcos rallies, I saw old people, not young people. Those were middle-aged people, many were already senior citizens.
Perhaps it is difficult for them to accept the end of the status quo, that President Ferdinand E. Marcos would be viewed in a more favorable light, not as dictated by the dishonest media and twisted history books. Part of me honestly wants to hold the burial on September 21, just to watch the reaction of the radicals, but I believe the late President deserves it on his birthday.
This September, President Marcos will be interred underground, out of sight and out of mind. Such closes the curtain on the Marcos legacy, which had its ups and downs. It is now time for us to do our part. Whatever mistakes Ferdinand Marcos did, we must learn and never repeat them. Likewise, we must build upon the good that he was able to do.
So, I laud the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery. I laud him for making the right decision without being influenced by the detractors. The Marcos burial will begin a new chapter in our nation’s history, and it is up to us to write what will be in that chapter.