The University has been vocal about its objection to the burial of former president turned dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). Adorning the pillars of the St. La Salle Hall in black cloth and organizing protests have been among the actions taken by the University and De La Salle Philippines (DLSP) in showing its stance against the said burial.
These actions come mere days after the Supreme Court (SC) voted 9-5 to allow the burial of the late strongman at the LNMB despite opposition from various groups and sectors.
Lasallians on the Marcos burial
DLSP released its official statement on the SC decision on the Marcos’ burial last November 10. Penned by DLSP President Br. Jose Marie Jimenez FSC, the statement is clear in its intentions, stating, “Marcos is not a hero. He was an oppressive ruler and a dictator.”
The statement further reads, “The empowering experience and triumph of all freedom-loving Filipinos over authoritarianism through People Power 1 in February 1986 is a clear rejection of the Marcos regime. He remains answerable for many counts of atrocities and human rights violations as well as ill-gotten wealth.”
The statement also calls on Lasallian educators and partners to “strengthen all their educational and community engagement efforts and programs towards a deepening of our people’s appreciation for democracy and human rights.”
Rallies continue being held simultaneously nationwide to protest the burial. Among these mass gatherings were protests organized at least in part by the University. On November 24, the Taft Network, composed of DLSU, DLSU College of Law, DLS-College of Saint Benilde, St. Scholastica’s College, and Arellano University School of Law took to the streets of Taft Avenue for a candle-lighting ceremony and noise barrage activity in protest of the burial.
“This [event] was the initiative of students,” claims University Student Government President Zed Laqui. The event was reportedly organized by different student councils and governments of the various schools forming the network.
Laqui also mentions, “Initiatives from the Taft Network would also continue. We aim that it may be sustainable focusing on educating the youth and going beyond rallies.”
On November 30, a contingent from DLSU also participated in the mass action held at the People Power Monument. DLSP invited the community to join the event and to “take a heroic stance and proclaim our commitment to build a nation that protects human rights.”
Voicing out on the ongoing discourse
In an informal online survey conducted by The LaSallian, DLSU students were asked if they were in favor or against the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the LNMB. A total of 115 students from the different colleges weighed in on the issue at hand, eliciting contrasting responses. There were a total of 87 students who voted against the burial, giving out several reasons.
Laureen Cruz* (II, ECE) argues, “It is a form of disrespect for those who have fought for our country. It is also a form of historical [revisionism], something that this family has been pushing for to be able to return to power.” She also shares that she had a relative who got arrested during martial law simply because he was working with a prominent political family.
“[I] will admit though [that] he [had done] some good by making things like the Philippine Heart and Lung Center, [but he] destroyed the country,” says Ruth* (IV, MEE). She emphasizes that giving a hero’s burial to a president who was involved in corruption, cronyism, mass homicide, torture, and stealing money is inappropriate.
“Would a soldier who committed treason be buried in the LNMB? He betrayed his own people, all for the sake of power, and that fact alone is enough for him not to be buried in the LNMB,” notes Gabriel* (II, BSA). He adds that soldiers and presidents may have been entitled to be buried at the LMNB, but what Marcos had done during martial law should have disqualified him from that entitlement.
Meanwhile, Molina* (II, ISJ) expresses her disappointment on how the multiple human rights violations during the martial law were completely disregarded. She highlights the many people who suffered, and that until today the country is still paying for the debts incurred by the Marcos family.
On the other hand, 28 students were in favor of the burial. They said that Marcos was qualified to be buried at the LNMB, and that he had many notable contributions to the country. However, some were in favor simply because they wanted to end the controversy once and for all.
Arah* (III, AB-PSM) asserts that the law is greater than emotion. “People need to accept that fact. People keep saying never forget. I feel sorry for those people. How can they move forward if they still dwell on the past?”
According to Anton* (II, POM-LGL), Marcos’ burial at the LNMB was legal. “He does not violate any of the provisions stated. Also, the LNMB does not only cater to former presidents, military heroes, and [the] like; [there are] also some of their wives buried there,” he adds.
“I personally do not look at the burial as burying him as a hero. Itong paglibing sakanya ay nakikita ko bilang isang daan para mamulat ang mga kabataan at matandaan kung ano talaga ang tunay na nangyari. Maging daan para maituro [nang] husto ng mga guro ang history,” David* (IV, POM) shares.
Some, however, prefer not to take a concrete stand on the issue. Joseph* says that he just accepts the decision of the SC. “The President decided to allow it on the ground that it does not violate any law. When challenged in the SC, the SC affirmed its legality. Simply saying, no law is violated,” he argues. According to him, going against the SC would mean having no regard for the law. “Maybe there are issues that are not meant to be settled,” he adds.
Laura* (II, CS-ST) also believes that the law should be respected; however, she adds that she finds the law on soldiers and presidents being buried at the LNMB “rather vague.” She explains, “It does not completely account for whether the person to be buried has in fact committed a crime of intense moral turpitude.”
Moreover, Christina* states that the issue only continues to divide the country even further. “While it is unfortunate, there is a truth in saying that as law enforcers and activists, one can never achieve full justice, only partial justice. That is the reality of life,” she explains.
* Names were changed for anonymity