SISYPHUS would probably be ashamed of the absurdity of eternally pushing his boulder up a mythological hill if he would look down at Filipinos whose preposterous historical amnesia seems to last a lifetime. Or even after death.
On November 8 the Supreme Court (SC) permitted the burial of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Nine justices dismissed the petitions opposing the move, arguing that there is no such law prohibiting the act. The high court also maintained that President Duterte has the authority to order such given that he “acted within the bounds of the law and jurisprudence.” The jurists added that according to the bylaws of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Marcos, who declared martial law and instituted the despised dictatorship and militarization of the country whose effects can still be felt up to now, infecting the government and the courts, especially the courts it seems, is still entitled to a spot in the Libingan since he allegedly received the medal of valor and served as commander-in-chief when he was president.
The Supreme Court ruling is supreme baloney.
This was the same high court that ruled effectively in favor of martial law and the 1973 Constitution passed by the rubber-stamp Constitutional Convention. There had been hopes in the runup to its ruling that the high court would at least have a relatively longer memory especially since its independence was restored after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt and 1987 Constitution. But the hopes were in vain.
The Libingan was established in 1947 when the Philippines had not yet fully recovered from the destructive war.
President Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act 289 on June 16, 1948 to initiate the construction of a “national pantheon” for the patriots of the country. The memorial was “to perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn.”
Now it should be asked: Ousted in 1986 by a popular revolt against his murderous dictatorship and merciless plunder, could Marcos qualify to be numbered among former presidents like his fellow Ilocano Quirino and among patriots and heroes buried at the national memorial? Considering his bloody record, could he serve as an inspiration worthy of emulation by young Filipinos now and in the future?
The Supreme Court said there’s no law to bar the burial and in any case, the Marcos legacy should be better left to the judgment of history: “There are certain things that are better left for history—not this Court—to adjudge,” the high court says in its conclusion. “In the meantime, the country must move on and let this issue rest.” But the Supreme Court itself has already prejudged history and voted in favor of the Marcos legacy. It has effectively passed the law bestowing state honors to a despised deposed dictator.
The Supreme Court has shown its true colors. The Supreme Court embodies the people’s supreme amnesia, the people’s utter inability to look beyond clannishness and narrow personal interests for the sake of the larger nation.
The Supreme Court is a cabal of small minds: how else could one interpret that the majority of its members voted in favor of the burial citing there was no law or legal impediment to it. The same Constitution that restored the independence of the judiciary is also the same law that declares as a state principle the abolition of political dynasties but which has not been realized because Congress, the beneficiary like the Supreme Court of the democratic restoration of Edsa, does not want to pass an enabling legislation.
But the Supreme Court may be right in one implication of the nation’s failure to pass laws abolishing dynasties and prohibiting Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani for its patriots and former presidents. The implication is that the nation cannot summon up the political will and the collective conviction to banish the dark past of the dictatorship. Last May, the dictator’s son nearly won the vice-presidency. The Marcos dynasty has remained firmly entrenched despite—and since—the 1986 revolution.
And Filipinos, exalted for their alleged resilience amid adversity, have earned again acclaim for the vivacity of their amnesia—their historical memory may be short but it is at least long, tenacious, and obdurate in its vacuousness and laxity. Their parochialism and inability to look beyond their narrow interests, their sheer vapidity in sensibility, all of this, is likewise resilient. And now the Filipino people should thank the Supreme Court for supremely embodying their own supreme inanity.