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He had caused us much pain and denigration. Must we hail him a hero, too?

By Dionesio C. Grava

Whatever dollar signs may be percolating in the brains of the likes of Cheez Escudero's father Salvador and his cosigners of the house resolution to have Marcos buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani must be pretty huge stuff for them to blatantly disregard the deep-seated pain and revulsion of a people who had been severely violated and had gone through the nightmare of martial law imposed by the unlamented conjugal dictatorship. More than two decades after his death, the family and cronies of the late Ferdinand Marcos continue in their attempts to have their benefactor play a central role in divisive national discussions.

Specifically, a large number of representative joined a known toady of the late dictator in signing a resolution calling on President Noynoy Aquino to give the deceased tyrant a hero's burial. It may be recalled that Marcos declared martial law to illegally extend his term and used repression to cow opponents and perpetuate his rule. His 20-year reign ended when he was chased out of Malacanang and he died in exile in Hawaii in September 1989.

By their nature autocrats cultivate cohorts and mercenaries in order to sustain their power such that even in death their influence would not ebb or otherwise passed on to favored kin. Marcos' mummified body remains unburied, obviously awaiting for the right time to resurface and defiantly show to the world that even righteousness and justice are no match to the combined forces of selfish ambitions, looted wealth, corrupt politicians and journalists-for-hire. With the other half of the conjugal dictatorship and their children back in the halls of power and much of the stolen billions unrecoverable, the stage is set for them and henchmen to connive in a shameless bid to change how the strongman is perceived in history. Already Marcos has been enshrined in the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Hall of Heroes even though research findings by Retired Colonel Bonifacio Gillego and American historian Alfred McCoy bared that his (Marcos) claim to heroism and dozens of combat medals are phonies. Instead of being condemned for his misrepresentations and cruel deeds, his sycophants want him to be buried in the Cemetery of Heroes, too.

So much had been written about the greed, the excesses and atrocities of the much despised tyrant such that there is really no excuse for anyone to feign ignorance about that tragic chapter of our nation's history. Much less the 'honorable' members of the House of Congress who are expected to know better and whose prime concern should have been to attain and safeguard a sense of respect and integrity by which their mandates are being perceived by the citizenry. But then that would be giving undue credit to a body with many members perceived as spineless wheeler-dealers who cavort on pork barrels, self-promotions and buddy-buddy compromises with colleagues. With their collective decision to trivialize the overwhelming human rights abuses and unprecedented plunder of the national treasury -- aggravated by the fact that none of the Marcoses to this day has shown remorse or apologized for the grievous crimes committed -- would relegate these congressmen in the dustbin of shame and irrelevance. They aggravate the smear and ill-repute that has been the trademark of the Philippine brand of politics ever since.

But maybe, with our recent recollection of the sacredness of lent, these congressmen would avail of an opportunity to redeem themselves and retract their endorsements of the resolution concerned. After all, according to an article by Ted Laguatan, declaring Marcos a hero is "like former Nazis using their amassed wealth and influence succeeding in getting Adolfo Hitler declared as a hero." But then as another writer, Isagani A. Cruz, said in the distant past, it is one of the ironies of our history "the way we have forgiven the people who wrecked our lives and despoiled our future during the Marcos dictatorship. These unrepentant culprits should not be foolishly forgiven if we are to maintain our self-respect as a betrayed nation.

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