Saturday, September 17, 2016

Duterte’s burial decision is correct

By Alfredo C. Garvida Jr.

President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to bury the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani was the right thing to do in the midst of the nation's divisive state on this burial issue for the past 30 years.

The self-righteous of course had to raise their opposition to this presidential decision invoking as reasons the late president's human rights sins, his fake records as a soldier during World War II and his plundering the nation's coffers which, sadly, has yet to be substantiated in an acceptable form. 

It has to be noted, however, that those who have voiced their opposition to the president's burial decision have trained all their guns against the late President's alleged misdeeds without casting any faulting word against the person who made this decision in the first place that is President Duterte. Why? Because these guys are devoid of the needed balls to clash with the fierceness of Mr. Duterte's style of dealing with his detractors and enemies. 

These guys are so combative about Mr. Marcos' human rights violations but their silence about the open disregard of human rights now prevailing under Mr. Duterte's watch is just so horribly deafening. With the spate of extra-judicial killings now ongoing, no other president would have been spared from the censures of the Drilons, Pangilinans, Cayetanos, Hontiveros, Lagmans and them other self-righteous politicians and activists. And now they oppose Mr. Marcos' burial at the Libingan under human rights reasons, as one of their reasons? Double standard is it? And what an injustice to all human rights victims this silence could be.

Mr. Marcos has all the qualifications to be buried at the Libingan, and none of the disqualifications under the law. The law specifies that among other things, a former president or a soldier can be buried at this cemetery. It does not say that a President deposed by the military or a coup de etat or by people power is disqualified from being interred here. 

The other issue against the late President is plunder. His enemies are not united and consistent though on how much did he and his family plunder allegedly from the nation's coffers. Some say billions of dollars, without telling exactly how much. Recently, one politician said $5 billion. Lately, Mr. Kiko Pangilinan, the returning senator husband of the Mega Star, Ms. Sharon Cuneta, said $10 billion—by the way does anyone wonder what Mr. Pangilinan is doing again in the Philippine Senate given his dismal, unproductive performance as PNoy's rice czar? What this writer wants to drive at is the absurdity of these people's claim of plunder with no substantive, reliable basis to buttress their assertions. For certainly, the fact that they are shooting trial and error arrows into the air on the amount of what was supposed to have been plundered speaks well of how wild and absurd their accusations could be.

If $10 billion was what was plundered as Mr. Pangilinan alleges, where did he base his computation on? Does he have an accounting trail of this amount? And what about that guy who said $5 billion? Where did he base his computation as well? In short, how could these guys feel so empowered to accuse of wholesale thievery a man who could no longer rise up from his grave to defend himself on wild speculations? As the saying goes, it is easier to accuse someone of wrongdoing than proving it. Therefore, this column would greatly appreciate it—in the name of fairness to all Filipinos—if Ms. Sharon Cuneta's husband could stand up and prove the legitimacy of his claim that the Marcos family had stolen $10 billion from the people, otherwise, he should shut up and face, as a statesman, the issue of whether Marcos' burial at the Libingan will end or at least lessen the Filipinos' divisive state on the issue of Marcos as a whole.

History will judge whether Mr. Marcos was a bad president or not. He had transcending accomplishments in his public life; and he had wrong deeds as well. The plunder issue against him—involving allegedly billions and billions of dollars is just mind-boggling in the absence of a detailed or acceptable accounting trail offered for public scrutiny. It is indeed easy to say he stole $10 billion but I can bet my last peso that Mr. Pangilinan will not be able to present an acceptable accounting of this figure in his lifetime—because his accusation is merely a resonance of what they have conjured up all these years to destroy the late President and his family and not based on facts. 

Furthermore, with the willingness of other nations, especially the United States, which devised Marcos' deposition in the first place, those billions of dollars allegedly plundered by the Marcoses should have been recovered by now—after 30 years so to speak. If certain computer hackers could steal $81 million dollars from Bangladesh, without physically lifting the money from the depository bank but by merely tinkering with the computer keyboard, how could America's vaunted CIA or the other superpowers' spy arms fail to locate the alleged Marcos plunder? 

The answer is very simple: the plundered money, as deposition Pangilinan and company are wildly asserting, is non-existent. If the late president has untold wealth, it is hidden from the most of us, yet known to the big nations: because his wealth is derived from a legitimate source, namely, his being the asset manager of a gigantic foundation that he co-initiated with the late Father Antonio Diaz long before he became president out of some gold horde emanating from the Tallano clan's wealth through the Vatican that the superpowers came know about later and joined in to protect it for the world's economic benefit.

Then there is this guy named, Mr. Ricardo Jose, an alleged historian, who is alleging that the late President's wartime record as a soldier was fake. In our book, a genuine historian is one who knows how to reconcile his data with logic. Which means that is it logical for Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur, the iconic five-star general of the United States Army, to pin that war medal on deposition Marcos on the mere faith of the late President's claim of being a war hero without a corresponding basis on the U.S. government's record? Did the U.S. government make a fool out of Gen. Mac Arthur then if Mr. Jose's assertion were the gospel truth? Anyway, has Mr. Jose ever crossed path with a certain former policeman from Vintar, Ilocos Norte named, Rizal Raquino, who claimed, without reward or whatever consideration, that he took care of the late President when he became sick while serving under the USAFFE command of Gen. Russel Volkman defending Bataan? Further, why has this war record issue only become prominent now that deposition Marcos is dead and about to be laid to rest at his rightful place and not when he was still alive running for president or congressman or senator? As history is based on recorded events of the past, it must likewise survive the test of logic. Sadly, Mr. Jose's history records, by logic, do not reconcile with history in itself.

The most crucial issue that must be considered at this point, in this writer's view however, is whether President Duterte's burial decision will ease up the divisive state of the nation on Mr. Marcos as a whole and get the nation to move on. The Pangilinans, and Drilons and Hontiveroses and Lagmans and them human rightists certainly believe that they represent the majority's sentiment against this presidential directive. Certainly, they don't and they know this because even people who claim to have been victims of human rights transgression under Marcos agree with Duterte that it is time to move on let and history judge down the road whether Marcos was a villain, or a hero.

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