Petitioners to protest if hero's burial for Marcos approved

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Those opposed to a hero's burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos are ready to protest if the Supreme Court votes in favor of this, a human rights lawyer said Tuesday.

A Supreme Court decision approving the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will be an affront to decades of jurisprudence, the Constitution, and even the high court itself, said Barry Gutierrez, lead counsel for the petitioners against the burial, said on CNN Philippines' The Source.

Human rights victims under Marcos' rule, lawmakers, and concerned citizens who have vowed never to forget the years of the dictatorship, were considering non-legal mass action, such as protests and vigils, he said.

If the Supreme Court decides "to actually allow the burial to push through, they would be going against 30 years worth of jurisprudence, actions of Congress, actions of the executive, and the Constitution itself," Gutierrez said.

He noted that even the Supreme Court itself has condemned the Marcoses.

"It would be a complete reversal of how Philippine law has characterized Marcos and the Marcos dictatorship," Gutierrez added.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred to November 8 its vote on a burial for Marcos when it extended its status quo ante order on plans to bury the former president in the heroes' cemetery in Taguig.

Related: Supreme Court postpones vote on Marcos' hero's burial

Plans to bury the late dictator in Libingan ng mga Bayani prompted an outcry and the filing with the Supreme Court of a protest by human rights groups, historians, and concerned lawmakers.

This arose after President Rodrigo Duterte gave a go-signal in August for a burial to proceed.

Duterte has said he will respect the Supreme Court's ruling on the issue.

Legal basis for disallowing the burial

Gutierrez said the rule allowing soldiers and former presidents to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani is "not even a law" but simply a regulation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"The AFP regulation has to give way to the Constitution. It has to give way to statutes passed by Congress... to decisions of the Supreme Court," said Gutierrez.

Related: SC hears arguments on Marcos' heroes burial

He accused the Marcos family's insistence on the burial there as proof that the Marcoses wanted to revise history.

"I think that the insistence of the Marcos family to actually have Marcos buried there belies that point. It's actually, for them, a very clear indicator that it washes clean the legacy of the Marcos dictatorship," Gutierrez said.

"What we (petitioners) are invoking is the Constitution, which is very clearly an anti-dictatorship Constitution... and multiple Supreme Court decisions which also reiterate the same thing," he added.

These documents characterized Marcos' rule as marked by tyranny and corruption. "(We are also invoking) other laws like the Human Rights Victims Compensation Law, which among other things, recognize the rights of victims under the Marcos dictatorship."

He added that the law covers not only monetary compensation, but due recognition that the person responsible for the victims' sufferings "should never be treated as a hero and should never be given any honors by the state."

National healing?

Marcos supporters remained hopeful of a decision in their favor.

The fact that Marcos was a soldier and former president is enough reason for him to be buried in the heroes cemetery, they say. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, three years after being deposed by the People Power revolution in 1986.

"He was and he became our president. That alone says it all," says Zulfikar-Ali "Sol" Bayam, a member of the Moro National Liberation Front-Youth.

Businessman Tony Guray likewise said that he was "a soldier, secretary of defense, and a wartime hero."

When asked about Marcos' accountability to the people due to his position as commander-in-chief of the military, Guray replied, "Maybe yes, a little. But not at all."

"I'm not saying that the late president Marcos has no liability at all," said Bayam.

Bayam invoked his background as a Moro, and cited reconciliation as his reason for supporting Marcos' burial in the heroes' cemetery.

 "We have experienced lots of hardship, difficulties, massacres during Martial Law. But why am I here? For us to really have a true healing process and to move the country forward," said Bayam.

Gutierrez says that the uproar against the burial is the best rebuttal against the Marcos' loyalists' "national healing" argument. "It has not healed anything. In fact, it has reopened old wounds," he said.

He cited the lack of remorse or apology from the Marcos family. " There is no remorse. There is no attempt to actually provide some form of recompense. So from that point, how can you talk about healing?"