SC hears arguments on Marcos' hero's burial

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday started hearing oral arguments on the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).

Petitioners tried their best to convince the Supreme Court why the former President should not be buried there.

But as the petitioners presented and defended their cases, Justices also present differing opinions on the matter.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is convinced, Marcos is not qualified since he was "dishonorably separated" as a President and "dishonorably discharged" as a Commander-in-Chief.

A regulation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines expressly states that personnel who were dishonorably separated or discharged form service are not qualified to be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Carpio relates this to the case of Marcos. He explained, Marcos was ousted from office and was removed as the Commander-in-Chief in 1986 Edsa Revolution.

The Edsa Revolution, Carpio said, is a sovereign act of the people.  According to Carpio, once a revolution succeeds, it becomes "legitimate and valid."

Asking one of the petitioners, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Carpio said: "The sovereign act of the people is higher than an act of a military tribunal or of a civilian administration tribunal. Correct?"

In which Colmenares replied: "Tama po." [That's correct.]

Carpio also pointed out while Colmenares was presenting his case, that Marcos, being "dishonorably discharged," can't use public property such as the LNMB for a private purpose.

Carpio explains, a person who has been dishonorably discharged and then buried in a government property — it would be for a private purpose.

And even if the sitting President can amend the regulations, it will be unlawful to allow someone to use public property — bought and maintained by public funds — to be used for private purposes.

Also read: Supreme Court stops preparations for Marcos burial at LNMB

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, meanwhile, asked the basic question: "Who are heroes?"

De Castro said it is difficult to determine who are heroes if there's nobody entrusted with the duty to make the declarations.

De Castro explained the controversy arises from the name "Libingan ng mga Bayani." [Heroes' Cemetery]

"I think the name 'Libingan ng ma Bayani' is the one creating a lot of controversy when in simple, going by the proclamation of the president and regulation, this was intended only as a war memorial and not really for heroes," De Castro said.

De Castro also said it's now the burden of the petitioners to convince the court that Libingan ng mga Bayani is only for heroes.

Also read: Duterte defends hero's burial for Marcos: A matter of enforcing the law

For Associate Justice Jose Perez, the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, being an election promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, should be very well considered.

Perez said that when Duterte won, he carried with him the election promise of allowing Marcos be given a hero's burial.

Perez argued, the President is just implementing what he promised — and this constitutes the decision of the sovereign people who elected Duterte in office.

But Associate Justice Marvic Leonen refutes this, saying just because the President won doesn't mean anything he says is already Constitutional.

Ilocos youth group appeals to SC: Allow Marcos' burial

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Calling for unity and national healing, a youth group in the province of Ilocos Norte showed support to the planned burial of Marcos at the LNMB.

"We are hoping that as a person who served his country both as a soldier and president, Apo Lakay [Apo Marcos] should finally rest at LNMB," said law student and youth leader James Ceasar Ventura.

Amidst the alleged violence and atrocities committed during the Martial Law years, Ventura said that while human rights discussions continue, it is also a fact that Marcos was voted to Presidency twice.

"Human rights discussion will continue. I will neither deny nor confirm them...However, we cannot deny that he was a president who was popularly elected twice."

He also added that the former President was a recipient of medal of valor and was a war veteran as evidenced by the pension received by former first lady and now Ilocos Norte representative Imelda Marcos.

CNN Philippines' Fiona Nicolas contributed to this report.

Also read: Martial Law victims denounce hero's burial for Marcos