Most recently, 216 Congressmen signed a resolution Urging the Administration of President Benigno C. Aquino to Allow the Burial of the Remains of Former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
It is premised primarily on the following:
That the Libingan ng mga Bayani was established for military personnel;
That Marcos was a well-decorated soldier, a veteran of World War II and a survivor of the Bataan Death March; and
That he gave invaluable service as a soldier, writer, statesman, President and Commander-in-Chief.
First let me reiterate what I had written earlier (Marcos: To Be or Not To Be @LNMB, Asian Journal, 3/17-24, 2011). The pantheon of heroes which was later named Libingan ng mga Bayani was established not just for military personnel who were not dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged,.or not convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude but also for acclaimed national artists and other non-military personnel approved as heroes, and most especially for Presidents worthy of emulation and inspiration by the present generation and generations still unborn. (Republic Act No. 289)
Marcos, who built his political career as allegedly the most decorated soldier in history dwarfing by comparison even the combined medals of Sergeant York of World War I and Audie Murphy of World War II, indeed on its face deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
But more than 40 years after his death, and 5 Presidents succeeding him, not one of the latter dared to bury him at the national pantheon.
President Cory Aquino did not even allow the remains of Marcos to be brought anywhere in the Philippines. She was familiar with Marcos atrocities, his deceptions and his dishonorable and brutal dictatorial regime. She saw her husband killed by soldiers under Marcos command. Understandably, she sympathized with tens of thousands of Martial Law victims and their relatives who vehemently objected.
President Fidel Ramos allowed the remains to be brought back to the Philippines but only to Ilocos Norte and DEFINITELY not to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Being a West Point graduate and a decorated soldier himself, he could have understandably decided to bury Marcos at the LNMB.
President Joseph Estrada pledged and, in fact, announced he would allow Marcos to be buried at the pantheon. But after listening to all sides and having to focus on the responsibilities of governing, he never got around to approving and implementing what he pledged.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who had the opportunity to do it for almost a decade did not even consider it nor did she encourage a discussion on it. In fact, her way of governing mirrored that of Marcos so much so that you would think the latter was her idol.
President Noynoy Aquino is now being urged to do what his predecessors did not dare do. In deference to the signatories of the resolution coming from a co-equal branch of the government, he referred the matter to Vice President Binay. It is not clear whether the Vice President is to study it and make recommendations or is actually empowered to decide. It is also unclear as to when the decision be made during Aquinos term or when (or if) Binay gets elected as President?
If his decision is in the negative, is it binding on the Marcos family? Will the family respect it and finally put the issue to rest and correspondingly the soul of Marcos to peaceably rest as well?
If Congressmen Salvador Escudero, Imelda Marcos, Gloria M. Arroyo, J.V. Estrada and the other signatories of the resolution are really serious, why dont they author and sponsor a bill that would mandate the burial at the LNMB? They can incorporate different conditions and qualifications completely disregarding heroism as well as despotism. They can even change the title and remove Bayani in it. They are lawmakers. Instead of acting like one, they have become petitioners urging Noynoys Administration to accept Marcos as a hero and to top it all, forcing it to rewrite history.
Was Marcos a well-decorated soldier?
John Sharkey of the Washington Post who did an extensive research on the matter did not think so. Jeff Gerth and Joel Brinkley of the New York Times after perusing the War files in the National Archives found out that Marcos claims were fraudulent and absurd. Historian and scholar Dr. Alfred McCoy, while researching a book World War II in the Philippines, discovered the fraudulent Marcos files among hundreds of thousands of documents involving real heroes and fraudulent claimants during World War II.
Army Captain Ray C. Hunt who directed guerilla activities in Pangasinan said, No way. The List of Recipients of Awards and Decorations issued from December 7, 1941 through June 30, 1945 was compiled by the General Douglas MacArthurs headquarters in Tokyo after the end of the war. Another list of some 120 Americans and Filipinos who were awarded during the Bataan campaign was transmitted to the War Department by General Jonathan Wainwright on April 12 shortly before his surrender. MARCOS WAS NOT on any of the lists.
Many of Marcos medals were obtained for heroic actions in Kiangan, Mt. Province while serving in the 14th Infantry under the Command of Colonel Manriquez and Adjutant Captain Rivera. Both attested to fact that Marcos was a non-combatant and just a Civil Affairs officer. They knew of no award that Marcos could have received or had been entitled to.
For 40 years Philippine War records were not available to the public. It was only in the 1980s that many of the documents were eventually accessible to legitimate researchers and scholars. Led by Colonel Bonifacio Gillego assisted by a team from the Movement for a Free Philippines, a study was made on Marcos: FAKE HERO. The study was written by Col. Gillego and was published by the Philippine News and the We Forum which Marcos shut down and its Editor and staff writers indicted for sedition punishable by death.
After an exhaustive analysis of the medals which Marcos supposedly received, Gillego came up with the following conclusions:
Eleven awards were given in 1963;
Ten were given on the same day (12/20/1963);
Three awards were given in one AFP General Order (12/20/1963);
One award was given in 1972 when he was already President;
Eight are really campaign ribbons which everybody involved in Bataan and the resistance movement (including my barbers uncle), is entitled to receive;
Awards are duplicated for the same action at the same place on the same day;
One is a Special Award given by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines; and
Three for being wounded in actions which his own Commandant swore could not have happened.
Most importantly, like the other researchers, he found no records in the War Archives that would support the awards supposedly received by Marcos. On the contrary, fraudulent and false claims as well as anti-guerilla propaganda files involving his father and his group were uncovered.
I intend to write in more detail the writings and research made by the above-mentioned authorities plus my own findings and analysis regarding Marcos war exploits to belie the Congressmen signatories premises. They will be in my next and future columns. We just cannot allow Philippine History to be rewritten at the expense of the real heroes of World War II.
Philippine News which published Gillegos article, Marcos the Hero of Kiangan Who Never Was, wrote, In an effort to authenticate his report, Gillego contacted Manriquez and Rivera, residents in the East Coast to attest to the veracity of his article. In the presence of TWO WITNESSES, Manriquez and Rivera signed every page of Gillegos story.
The TWO WITNESSES to the signing, I am very proud to say, were acknowledged and genuine national hero BENIGNO Ninoy AQUINO and lucky ME.