OCTOBER 14, 2011 (MANILA TIMES) Written by : Jaime Pilapil Reporter (PHOTO -  President Benigno Aquino 3rd fields questions during a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines held in Makati City (Metro Manila) on Wednesday. AFP)

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday declared that there would be no hero’s burial for late former President Ferdinand Marcos under his watch.

He said that it would be the “height of injustice” to give honor to a person who made the people suffer during the martial law years.

“It really would be the height of injustice to render any state honor to the person who was the direct mastermind of all of this suffering. I will not be sanctioning a burial for the late President Marcos... not under my watch,” President Aquino told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines during the traditional question-and-answer portion of the open forum.

The President said that many of those who suffered under martial law were yet to be compensated and the Marcos family was yet to apologize to the victims.

Thousands of political opponents went missing or were killed under the Marcos regime and the Marcos family was accused of plundering up to $10 billion from the nation—according to one government estimate.

Successive governments have launched an array of lawsuits and other legal efforts to recover the funds but they have largely failed and no member of the Marcos family has gone to jail.

When Marcos was toppled, he and his family fled into exile in Hawaii, where he died in 1989. His embalmed body is stored in a crypt at the family home and his family has been leading calls to have him buried at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery.

The Aquino family was also a victim of the Marcos regime.

President Aquino’s father, former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was ordered detained by Marcos. To escape persecution, the Aquino family had to flee to the United States.

Aquino. Jr. was killed in the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport in 1983 when he returned from exile.

The airport was eventually named after him.

The elder Aquino’s assassination ignited the Filipinos’ indignation that led to a bloodless revolution in 1986 that installed Corazon Aquino as the new president.

The incumbent President earlier gave Vice President Jejomar Binay the task to give recommendations if the late strongman deserves full military honors or his remains should be buried in Ilocos Norte province, not at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

After conducting a survey of various stakeholders such as the public, political parties and civil society groups, Binay recommended that Marcos be buried with full military honors in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.

He said that Mr. Aquino’s decision should be respected.

Disappointed SEN. Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr., the only son of the late strongman, was disappointed by the President’s declaration, saying that it only showed that Mr. Aquino was incapable of exercising good leadership.

Marcos believes that President Aquino wasted a very good opportunity to unify the country.

“He would like to continue this division we have in our country, obviously he does not want to heal divisions, he wants to widen these divisions which brings us to conclude that he is not a natural leader,” he told reporters.

When asked about plans of the Marcos family, the senator said that they do not have any because he believes that all efforts have been exerted to justify the request for a state burial.

“Where is the promise he (President Aquino) made during the campaign? He just made those statements then just to get votes from Ilocos,” Marcos said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that the statement of Mr. Aquino was reasonable and should be respected.

Enrile, who served as the Minister of Defense under the Marcos administration, added that it is a very sensitive issue as far as the two families are concerned.

“He is a son (Mr. Aquino) of the man who was slain and I think we have to understand him and respect his feelings,” he said.

With reports from Jefferson Antiporda, Bernice Camille V. Bauzon and AFP


Marcos family won't appeal burial rejection By Teddy Molina (The Philippine Star) Updated October 14, 2011 12:00 AM


LAOAG CITY, Philippines – The family of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos will not appeal President Aquino’s rejection of a hero’s burial for the ousted leader but will take their chances with the next administration, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos said yesterday.

Imee, daughter of the late strongman, expressed shock at Aquino’s declaration, saying she had hoped that the President would not miss the chance for reconciliation with her family.

On Wednesday, Aquino announced there would be no state honors for Marcos, saying it would be “the height of injustice” to martial law victims to have the late strongman accorded state honors. He had earlier rejected pleas for a Libingan ng Mga Bayani burial for the late dictator.

But Imee said they had already agreed to a recommendation from Vice President Jejomar Binay for an Ilocos burial for the Marcos patriarch, with full military honors.

The Marcos family said he deserved state honors considering his long years of service to the country as a decorated soldier, guerilla fighter, lawmaker, and eventually as head of state.

But while the Marcoses have abandoned hope of seeing their patriarch accorded state honors under the Aquino administration, Marcos loyalist lawyer Oliver Lozano is making a last ditch effort to make the President reconsider his decision.

“I am confident President Aquino will change his mind. He was ill advised because the arguments presented have no legal and moral basis,” Lozano told The STAR in a telephone interview from Baguio City. He said he is set to write a letter of appeal to Aquino.

He cited a case pending in the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) questioning the legality of the ban on a state funeral for the former president. “I believe the President will uphold rule of law,” Lozano said.

He said Aquino’s statement that Marcos was the brains of martial law was inaccurate because the Supreme Court itself had ruled that the declaration of martial law was not a dictatorship but a constitutional authoritarian move to prevent the communists from taking over the government.

Lozano also argued that human rights victims cannot invoke the compensation issue in blocking a state burial for Marcos.

“When you fight for a cause you are ready to die, you do not think of monetary rewards for your cause. It’s immoral if you wage a political struggle and claim money when you are injured,” he said.

He also rebuffed Aquino’s claim that most Filipinos do not want a state burial for Marcos, saying a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey had even ranked the late dictator among the country’s top 10 heroes.

Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz also scored Aquino’s decision, which he called “unbecoming of a president.”

Cruz said Aquino “failed to act presidential” when he announced his decision. “Before that announcement, he was rather vague… He was neither here or there. All of a sudden, when he was interviewed by the foreign correspondents, his true conviction came out,” Cruz said.

He also said he was wondering why Aquino had to order Binay to recommend ways to solve the Marcos burial issue when he had been against any form of state honors for the ousted leader all along.

President’s prerogative

Malacañang defended President Aquino’s decision, saying he had never reached an agreement with the Marcoses on the issue.

“And the recommendation of Vice President Binay was precisely a recommendation. And after the President made a statement in FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines), the Vice President issued a statement saying that the decision is a prerogative of the President. It should be respected and supported. So ‘no’ means ‘no’ – that’s the word of the President. He keeps his word and it’s just one word: ‘no’,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“There was never any miscommunication; there was never any misunderstanding extended to the Marcos family. The recommendation of Vice President Binay remained a recommendation until acted upon by the President. And so the President acted upon it decided that in the best interest of the Filipino people, it would not be proper for the President to accord state burial honors to the former president,” Lacierda said.

Marcos’s senator son and namesake accused Aquino on Wednesday of making him and his family believe that the President was seriously considering state honors for the late strongman.

Lacierda said the martial law factor, which figured prominently in Binay’s appraisal of the issue, “really weighed heavily upon him (Aquino).”

“We didn’t elicit or we didn’t give out any hint of the President’s decision primarily because he was still weighing on the issue,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda also said a reconciliation between Aquino and the Marcoses can take various forms.

“I really don’t know what kind of reconciliation you’re describing. Certainly, if you’re speaking of legislative matters, there would be some matters which they – both the President and Senator Marcos – can agree on… We would have to see… We’ll have to cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.

Lacierda said the President apologized to Binay because he made his decision public without telling the vice president first.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., for his part, called on critics to respect Aquino’s decision.

“I thought that he wanted to study the matter further but I guess he already made up his mind. Certainly, it behooves us to respect that decision,” the Speaker said.

A-Teacher party-list Rep. Mariano Piamonte said the President should have been more decisive on the issue. “Many are criticizing him now as to why he wanted Binay to study and have a survey and the decision was that and now he (Aquino) said the matter would be studied further,” Piamonte told a news forum in Quezon City.

“It is good that he has finally put his foot down on this issue after taking so long deciding on the matter. It would indeed be a travesty of justice if Marcos is buried with honors while thousands of his victims are still reeling from the damage he wrought on their lives,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said.

Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero, who authored the resolution to allow Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, said he was not bothered by Aquino’s decision. “What’s important is that the majority has not changed its decision,” Escudero said, referring to the over 200 lawmakers who signed the resolution.” With Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada, Evelyn Macairan

‘How do I hate this job?’

STANDARD - PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday testily denied he was playing video games during the Aug. 23, 2010 hostage crisis in which eight Chinese tourists were killed after a botched police rescue.

“I’m sorry, I’ m also human,” Mr. Aquino said during a question-and-answer session with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

“I’m insulted if I’m asked to disprove a non-event, and I think any of us in the same situation would feel the way I do when I have to prove something that did not happen.”

Mr. Aquino did not deny his publicized fondness for computer games, however, and did not reply when asked what games he played.

Asked how he liked his job after 15 months in office, the President joked: “How do I hate this job?”

“There are still adjustments that have to be made,” Mr. Aquino said, adding he had been working “extremely hard” despite the criticisms hurled at him.

He said being able to visit his hometown in Tarlac was his “main source of relaxation.” Joyce Pangco Pañares

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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