The song and dance on Marcos burial with honors
When I wrote about “Why PNoy copped out” and passed the buck to Vice President Jojo Binay to decide on whether the late dictator should be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery for Heroes), I excerpted a portion of Candy Cruz’s April 28, 2011 Facebook message to Aurora Pijuan which was posted in the Internet. Although I do not know her, I found Candy Cruz credible because her “late Dad” was former Ambassador J.V. Cruz, who was a close confidant of Ferdinand Marcos.
“Au, my late Dad did tell me that those medals were fake. I honestly believe that wily Imee succeeded in sweet talking PNoy. Na bola s’ya. She’s so good at that — the best politician among them. A combination of a brilliant sense of humour and gift of the gab. I know you’d rather not make a comment on Imee and fair enough. Everyone knows how Imee likes to impress on everyone about her closeness to PNoy during their days in Congress. PNoy sometimes is too good for his own good, and fell for it. She did the negotiating on the Marcos side.”
I decided not to include the rest of Candy’s Facebook message because it was news enough that “Wily Imee” had succeeded in “sweet talking” her former House colleague and friend, PNoy, to not reject her personal request to have her father buried in the Libingan. Instead, on February 23, 2011, PNoy asked Binay to study the Marcos request and make a recommendation by the first week of June.
At the time, PNoy explained that he did not want his “personal bias” to influence the decision. During the 2010 presidential campaign, PNoy cited his seeing his beloved mother, the late former Pres. Cory Aquino, humiliated with an invasive “body search” by Marcos soldiers whenever they would visit his father, Ninoy Aquino, during the eight years he was incarcerated in solitary confinement from 1972 to 1980.
But there were also other political considerations involved. PNoy wanted the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to be postponed from August 2011 to May 2013 — synchronized with national elections — to allow his appointed officers in charge (OICs) enough time to enact reforms in that troubled region. The key to postponing the ARMM elections was whether the Philippine Senate would go along with the bill approved by the House in March postponing ARMM elections.
The key to the Senate vote lay in the hands of the chair of the Committee on Local Government, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who previously threatened to “archive” the bill and allow the ARMM elections to proceed in August as scheduled.
On Friday, June 3, Vice President Binay released his recommendation to bury Ferdinand Marcos not at the Libingan but in Ilocos Norte “with full military honors”. On Saturday, June 4, Sen. Bongbong Marcos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Binay’s recommendation “seems a reasonable compromise. We just like to bury our father in a way that he deserved.” On Monday, June 6, Sen. Marcos recommended approval of the House bill postponing ARMM elections to 2013 and the Senate approved the bill on the same day.
So what was in Candy’s April 28, 2011 Facebook message that I excised in my earlier article? Here it is:
“But if the inside info that a compromise is in the offing — if not already approved, signed and sealed: full State Burial Honours in Ilocos, and I doubt it if that has changed, it would be such a pity that PNoy had to go through all this song and dance and didn’t simply just come out and say it himself.”
Candy’s “inside info” was that a compromise had already been reached with PNoy in April that Marcos would not be buried in the Libingan but in Ilocos Norte where the Marcos warlords reign supreme (Imee is Governor, Imelda is Congresswoman and Bongbong is Senator). It was apparently not as important to the Marcoses where the dictator Marcos was buried as that he be buried “with honors”. And they got what they wanted.
So why all the “song and dance”?
Politics. If the Marcoses had asked that Ferdinand Marcos be buried with full military honors in Ilocos and PNoy had immediately granted their request, he would have been heavily criticized for betraying his family’s legacy as the “Edsa President”. As it was, by even considering the request to have Marcos buried in the Libingan, PNoy already caught hell from his most ardent supporters in the US.
By accepting this compromise recommendation of Binay — which he will do this weekend — PNoy will get to appear “statesmanlike” even if it costs him an ARMM and a leg.
There is karmic irony in the continued insistence of diehard Marcos loyalists that the late dictator was a war hero. In his book, Waltzing with a Dictator: The Making of American Policy, Raymond Bonner recalled the time when Marcos was interviewed live on American TV by David Brinkley soon after the 1986 snap elections. Bonner recounts that George Will, a conservative American columnist and influential commentator, raised the war medals issue with Marcos noting his claim that Emperor Hirohito had attested to Marcos’ exploits against the Japanese during the war.
George Will wondered how that could be since “the only public words by Emperor Hirohito are on marine biology and botany”. Marcos replied that it was in the Emperor’s memoirs. Will, a noted authority on Japan, expressed incredulity — “They’ve not been published, sir!”
Will was furious when he then called the White House to inform Pres. Ronald Reagan that their man Marcos was an “inveterate liar.” This criticism of Marcos from the Right laid the groundwork for the Reagan White House to “cut and cut cleanly” its full support for Marcos when People Power challenged his corrupt iron fist rule.
Who knows? If Marcos had not lied about his “war medals”, the US might have continued its support for him and he may not have been overthrown.
(Send comments to [email protected] or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800).
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