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Mr. President, it’s a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

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Once again President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino used his oft-repeated excuse, “Not my priority…” to wiggle himself out of a dilemma. His most recent dilemma was where to bury Marcos.  But that shouldn’t even be a dilemma because the person he delegated to solve the problem, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, had already come up with a “Solomonic” resolution; that is, to bury Marcos in Ilocos Norte with “full military honors.”  All P-Noy had to do was stamp his imprimatur and that would have been the end of it.  And since the Marcos family had already accepted Binay’s recommendation, this issue should be, as Pinoys say it, “mute and academic.”

But after two weeks of agonizing whether to go along with Binay’s recommendation or not, P-Noy took the easy way out and used his oft-repeated escape trick, “Not my priority…” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, using his often used boilerplate language, said: “We don’t believe it is a priority right now. There are more important problems that we need to confront, more important concerns of the people that we need to contend with, and those are the concerns that we need to address more than this issue on the Marcos burial.” Yes, just change the subject and it works most of the time… but not all the time, pal.

A couple of days later, in an interview with Associated Press, P-Noy said that he would not allow the former dictator to be buried at the national heroes’ cemetery in Manila, “where former presidents, military officials, and prominent national leaders are laid to rest.” “Not during my watch,” he said.  Huh?

Had P-Noy said, “Not during my watch,” back in February 2011 when Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the late strongman’s son, requested P-Noy to bury the remains of his father at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery), that would have been the end of it. Then the country didn’t have to go through a divisive debate on this issue; the House of Representatives didn’t have to pass a resolution signed by 216 congressmen in favor of burying Marcos at the Libingan; the Social Weather Stations (SWS) didn’t have to conduct a survey which revealed that half of the respondents favored burial at the Libingan; and Binay didn’t have to spend countless hours and resources to study the issue.

And now, P-Noy had finally found the courage to say, “Not during my watch.” But he did so only after it was no longer an issue.  Binay had already recommended burying Marcos in Ilocos Norte and the Marcos family agreed to it.

The issue now is whether to bury Marcos with “full military honors” in which P-Noy is having another episode of mind-numbing indecisiveness.  Binay finally broke his silence stressing that Marcos is entitled to military honors and to which he said, “no one can dispute Marcos rendered military service and is, therefore, entitled to military honors.”

Indeed, burying Marcos with “full military honors” was one of three conditions that then President Fidel V. Ramos agreed to in 1993 for allowing the return of Marcos’ remains to the country.  These conditions were: (1) Marcos’ remains shall be brought directly to Ilocos Norte; (2) buried immediately; and (3) with “full military honors.”  The first condition was met; the second was not met since his remains were kept in a refrigerated crypt in Batac, Ilocos Norte; and it has not been verified if he were given “full military honors” when his remains were laid in state on a catafalque inside the room-size crypt.

Now, P-Noy seems to be agonizing on whether to give Marcos “full military honors” if he didn’t get one in 1993 or give him another “full military honors” when he is finally buried in his final resting place or simply deny him the honors regardless of whether he was already accorded such honors or not.

It is interesting to note, though, that ordinary soldiers who were reinterred in another place were accorded the same “military honors” they received when they were interred the first time.  It’s not considered duplication; it’s something that soldiers who were discharged honorably – as opposed to “dishonorably” – from military service are entitled to at the time of interment.  And, as the records show, Marcos served his country in World War II and was discharged “honorably.”

Therefore, this should not be an issue at all.  P-Noy should not anguish on whether to bury Marcos with “full military honors” or not.   He should make that decision right away as expected of him and put an end to his self-induced dilemma.

Mr. President, it’s a simple “Yes” or “No.”  Please, get over it!

By Perry Diaz




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