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Marcos and military honors


The civilian Ferdinand Marcos abused, exploited, and brought out the worst in the military. The institution up until now reels from the intractable problems that the Marcos years caused. To give the man military honors is to miss the depths of how he maltreated the armed forces and distorted its values.

I’m not even sure why, 25 years after we ousted him, we are still debating this. And under a government led by the son of a senator killed by the Marcos regime! What does this nation get for not properly burying the dictator, bad luck? We’ve had a string of that not because we have not buried him but because we have buried our standards for good leadership.

The family can bury him any place, any time. My fellow Ilocanos can bury him anywhere—the sand dunes of Fort Ilocandia, or near the Sarrat church that taxpayers spruced up for Irene’s Royal Wedding, or at the Malacanang ti Amianan (that sprawling publicly- funded mansion and compound at the outskirts of Laoag), or at the Marcos Museum in Batac. The choices are plenty.

But the proposal that has been sent to President Aquino is for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to give Marcos military honors during his burial in Ilocos Norte. It looks like a win-win solution: no hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, only full (or half, who knows?) honors from the military.

One lawyer I respect described it on his Facebook account as a “Solomonic” decision. A friend and colleague noted that even Osama bin Laden was given military honors, to which I responded that the military prayer and salute were within the context of a Navy ship, on deadline, giving the terrorist Islamic burial rites.

The proposal assumes three things. One, that majority of the Filipinos would mind and resent a hero’s burial for Marcos. Two, that the military would not mind giving him honors. Three, that Filipinos would not mind the military giving Marcos full honors.

But there’s a more dangerous assumption here: that there is

a divide between what the nation wants and what the military should do, or that there is a convenient wall as far as how we—civilians and the military—should separately treat Marcos and his legacy.

It betrays our inherently utilitarian view of the armed forces.

The military wouldn’t mind giving him honors because it’s not in its DNA to mind. As long as the regulations say it, the soldiers will follow. Marcos the former commander in chief knew that. When he ordered them to fight, they did. When he ordered them to spend government money without care for auditing rules, they did. When he ordered them to kill in the name of democracy, they did.

He was so intoxicated by the power and reach of the armed forces that he wanted to be the sole civilian authority over the troops. Thus he divided a once-unified defense budget into two, allowing the military to craft its own and the defense department to make its separate budget pitch. This made the military accountable only to him, weakening civilian oversight over spending that a defense department was supposed to wield.

I don’t know this fact off the top of my head. We got reminded of this during our research for an upcoming Newsbreak book on military corruption. I honestly thought I would not have to blame Marcos again for the corruption that has been systemic in the armed forces. Well, there is no escaping the man.

How tragic it would be then for a battered institution that is trying to recover from the Garcias and Rabusas of the world to be asked by their new commander-in-chief (himself a victim of martial law) to

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give full military honors to Marcos. How ironic it would be then for an institution that helped oust him—and fought all succeeding attempts to bring him back to power—to now grant him full honors.

Of course the military will heed orders from civilian leaders, who often consider the armed forces a tool, not an institution. A stickler for ritual and regulation, the military won’t debate the “fact” that Marcos is in their roster of colonels or that he was once their commander in chief.

It doesn’t help that one of the officers who plotted to oust him, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, is in favor not just of full military honors for the late dictator but a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Not far behind is Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, leader of the botched Oakwood mutiny, who said in so many words that if the military could in conscience bury Angelo Reyes at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, it might as well bury Marcos there. Ah, Reyes and Marcos—there’s a sea of dead bodies that separates them, senator.

I think we miss the point when we compare Marcos to other dead men, or when we grope for a win-win solution here. There is none, if we are true to the values we hold dear as a nation.

Mr. President, we collectively buried Marcos in 1986. To physically do so is no longer our burden to carry. – Newsbreak

CATEGORY: Blogs, Defense & Security, Glenda M. Gloria, Politics, Sectors
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  1. edveecruz says:

    If you view the military as a non-thinking robotic bunch of soldiers, too dumb to notice when they are being manipulated, then why do you make a big deal of their honors and who to extend it to? Make up your mind. Or, rather, open your mind.

  2. riaroxas says:

    I tweeted this article to Bongbong and he replied:
    @bongbongmarcos @riaroxas She insults military saying it is a bunch of non-thinking soldiers yet worries about the honors it gives and who it gives it to.

  3. thanks ria. i respect opposing views, including senator marcos’s. his reply somehow reflects his misunderstanding of the relationship between a commander in chief and a hierarchical institution like the afp. besides, they helped oust him, so i guess that ultimately proves they were ‘thinking’ soldiers :)

  4. @Glenda, i don’t know about you, but was it really proven that the Marcos government killed Ninoy? Kindly share naman dyan, kung saan mo ito nabasa, thanks

  5. riaroxas says:

    Ma’am, after this, I asked him a series of questions, basically saying that I like that he answers his followers on twitter, and he replied that it was no different from answering people on the street.

    Then I asked:

    Do you take it personally? Like wud u be friends with Ms. Gloria after her scathing article?

    He replied in length:

    @bongbongmarcos @riaroxas Before I go, let me answer that: I take it personally in the sense that there is a bias against my father. Twenty five years have gone by and she puts all the blame on him. People fail to see the kind of reform or transformation that can take place in that period of time. China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, etc. — what were they like 25 years ago? China could just deteriorate and blame the “gang of four” for not having progressed. Vietnam can whine about the Americans causing them to stagnate and so forth and so on. I’ve said this before: this blame game is giving us the excuse to fail instead of working for real change if thats what we really want. Now, I really have to rush. Thanks and a good evening to you.

    Personally, I wanted to ask more questions, but it can wait until tomorrow. :)

  6. the now president is in a quandary and the decision he can not carry is burdened on the filipino people but the majority has spoken and he doesn’t want to listen PONTIUS PILATE DOES THE SAME

  7. If he would be buried with full military honor does that not mean that he was to be buried like a hero? What is this fuss all about “with full military honors?”. If it means nothing why can’t just the Marcos clan bury their dead without this ceremony which is nothing by the way? Necropolitics is still being played, but I think the country has already spoken when the Marcos clan were chased out of the country in 1986 only to be welcomed back by Fidel Ramos, who after all Ferdie was his cousin. Ramos betrayed his commander in chief in 1986, but when he allowed Ver Family and Marcos Family and cronies in the 90′s, Ramos betrayed the entire Filipino people.

  8. Johnny Lin says:

    One proven legacy Marcos left to the military, corruption of the officers and gentlemen! Military honor and non burial at Libingan decision is VP Binay opening salvo to his presidential bid. He is appeasing both camps, the Marcos haters(patriots) and lovers(fools). Binay exposed his true dark color, prone to corruption and quintessential opportunist. May the Marcos burial decision be his Waterloo? Bongbong is the proverbial example of “the fruit does not fall far from the tree”; Dayum Filipino voters!

  9. Because other people think the military is composed of honorable people and they believe that they are their protector. So giving him full military honor is inconsistent to his having skewed the military merit system and embarked on “tayo-tayo” system. Besides, some segments of the military is not that totally repugnant. Those who did not join the series of coup d’etat of Honasan v. Cory Aquino and firmed in their belief in the supremacy of the civilian government, are deserving our greatest accolade.

  10. hahahaaa…. maybe because they came back and worked themselves back to power using their millions they took from the Filipino people.

    yes, if marcos clan and their cronies who robbed the people were meted the same fate as the Gang of Four of China and their cohorts by executing them and sending them to jail, maybe the country could have prospered too.

    “In 1981, the four deposed leaders were subjected to a show trial and convicted of anti-party activities. During the trial, Jiang Qing in particular was extremely defiant, protesting loudly and bursting into tears at some points. She was the only member of the Gang of Four who bothered to argue on her behalf. The defence’s argument was that she obeyed the orders of Chairman Mao Zedong at all times. Zhang Chunqiao refused to admit any wrong as well. Yao Wenyan and Wang Hongwen expressed repentance and confessed their alleged crimes.

    The prosecution separated political errors from actual crimes. Among the latter were the usurpation of state power and party leadership; the persecution of some 750,000 people, 34,375 of whom died during the period 1966-76.[5] The official records of the trial have not yet been released.

    Jiang Qing and Zhang Chunqiao received death sentences that were later commuted to life imprisonment, while Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan were given life and twenty years in prison, respectively. They were all later released. All members of the Gang of Four have since died; Jiang Qing committed suicide in 1991, Wang Hongwen died in 1992, and Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan died in 2005.

    Supporters of the Gang of Four, including Chen Boda and Mao Yuanxin, were also sentenced.”

  11. Teddy Casiño says:

    I agree with you completely. This is not about Marcos’ being a war veteran, the commander in chief or even president. Its about what he did to te nation and what he stood for – tyranny, corruption and gross human rights violations. Not all soldiers and officers are given “full military honors.” To grant it to someone who dishonored the institution and plunged the nation into dictatorship is simoly wrong.

  12. Wag nyong gamitin ang talino nyo sa kasamaan dahil sasamain kayo.
    Wag nyong ipakargo sa maliliit na tao ang anumang kademonyohan ng Marcos.

    Si Marcos ay di Dios at higit sa lahat ay lumabag sa kautusan ng Dios.

    Dapat alam niyo kung sino kayo. Alamin niyo kung ano ang responsilbilidad niyo sa mundo.

  13. Johnny Lin says:

    Sunugin na lang kasi, kung gusto ng pamilyang Marcos parang me ritual, di ilagay sa makeshift kawayan stage at sunugin parang indian gaya ni Geronimo at yung mga loyalists mag cha chant habang sumasayaw ang mga blue ladies ni Imelda! Military honor din yun sa mga fake medalists. C Pacquiao ang mag lead na military leader sa seremonyas sa event tutal gagawin na siyang Lt. Army! Kumple– eeeeeto na ang military honor nun na pangarap ng mga Marcos lovers!

  14. by the way, who’s goverment was, when ninoy got brutally killed…no need to find out what source it came (logic is not needed…common sense lang). In other progressive countries Marcos’s could be judiciously sentence by death.

  15. junsoyar says:

    If you going to ask my opinion,Marcos should be given a full military honour but he should be buried in his hometown Ilocos Norte not in Libingan ng mga bayani.

  16. “Mr. President, we collectively buried Marcos in 1986. To physically do so is no longer our burden to carry”

    Ergo, it doesn’t really matter where Marcos is buried.

  17. “There’s a sea of dead bodies that separates them” referring to Ferdinand Marcos and Angelo Reyes

    Angelo Reyes may not have sent thousands of people to their brutal death as Marcos did, but every peso he took that deprived each soldier who needlessly died for lack of equipment for him to be evacuated, treated for his wounds, and the war materiel to efficiently defend himself and the country, is no less an act of treason.

    I agree that “we have buried our standards for good leadership.” Angelo Reyes in Libingan ng Bayani is a glaring example of this.

    That the AFP can “honor” Angelo Reyes, why not just do what is natural to this institution and grant the same to Marcos? May kabawasan pa ba ito sa “honor” ng AFP?

    Ferdinand Marcos attempted and succeeded in corrupting the AFP because its “officers and gentlemen” agreed. It is as simple as that. And all the presidency that came after Marcos could have cleaned the AFP if they really wanted to, but they kept waltzing with the generals. In other words, it takes two to tango.

    If the nation is to recover its moral footing, then we cannot afford to minimize the crimes of those who have rationalized a life of stolen luxury [dinatnan na] instead of the taking the road less travelled.

  18. True.

    So Marcos’ burial shouldn’t be a government issue. His burial should be a concern of his family alone. Burying him in the Libingan ng mga Bayani or burying him in Ilocandia WITH military honors would mean involving the government, so he should be buried in his beautiful backyard in Ilocos without government participation.


  19. Ron Burgos says:

    Until now you are still grumbling about our country’s past during the Marcos years…Ferdinand Marcos died not with honor and neither with good recognition for the country’s courageous transformation from under developed tiny country to one recognized all over the world with talented and well educated inhabitants encompassing other asian nations, in particular Japan and China, during his watch…Yes,Ferdinand Marcos committed not only giant blunders during the years, especially during the last ten years of his presidency, I refuse to call it “dictatorship”, because it never happened that way, and never in our country had a dictatorship…Only in the mind of those who hated him personally and never accorded him even the tiniest benefit of the doubt…In my own opinion, he was not that intelligent of a man, although he was a lawyer, but he was a very courageous man, a normal size Filipino, but who stood tall among other leaders of not only Asian nations but of nations in the world…Greediness, of course there was greediness in him like other leaders, past and present, of our country, not excepting other countries’…but in my own view he was not that corrupt like other elected officials (especially after he was deposed and died)of our beloved country…In my own opinion, majority of our country’s elected and non-elected are more corrupt now more than in the past…Where’s the clean government that most, if not all, Marcos haters had been claiming and using to oust him at the time, and until now, where’s the clean government that all Marcos haters used to promote their own selfish agenda and for more corrupt life in our beloved country? Today is (more) worst than before (I would say, more than ever before)…Marcos haters succeeded alright, but from the lowest rank of government position to the top, graft and corruption is everywhere…”harap harapan pa”…laws are not enforced, and if enforced, against those who have no connections or friends in the government. If you are a true Filipino for change in our beloved country, erase the name of Marcos in your mind and focus on what’s best for our country, politically, economically and socially…NEVER dwell on that Marcos era (I wouldn’t call it contentious era)…He’s gone…Let’s help our country to face the challenges of the future…advocate real changes without enjoining your own self-serving goal…First (in my own opinion) problem we must correct in our country is the “VOTE BUYING” during elections…It’s so pervasive in our country, everywhere I’d say…A lot of people voted I talked to during the local and national elections, kind of even proud to have sold their votes…and they’re even proud to have accounted such story…What kind of people are we? Not to forget, those who lead and helped put down the Marcos presidency, do you mind if I’d ask you? Where are they now? You may agree or disagree with me if I’d say, they used the situation and its aftermatch to promote their own self-serving ambition, run for elective office, entrenched themselves with their government positions, enriched themselves and accumulated wealth (illegally?) (maybe?) and surround themselves and their families with bodyguards ready to rid anyone along their path to continued graft and corrupt life…Now, tell me or show me if today is better than those Marcos years as those Marcos haters continue to “spew” their hatred to a dead man…I think, those people who hated (and still continue to hate the man to this day and maybe forever) Marcos couldn’t find solace to relieve themselves from failures and keep using those old long gone years to justfiy the never ending corrupt practices of their friends and relatives in the government…Wake up fellow country men…Our beloved country has never changed after Marcos!!!! Did it?

  20. Juan Long says:

    I would suggestl that the next dead president which I am definitely sure is Ramos and others should follow the way Pres..Marcos be hurried, anyway nothing changed and even became worst during their terms as President of the Republic of thePhilippines.

  21. Estenio B. Tunac says:

    I agree much had been said about the issue. Unfortunately, it appears most of us Filipinos have a heart made of clay, dirty in and out! Sorry for the term!

    Dirty, in and out, is to point out hatred in the heart We profess to believe in the teaching of the Lord. But here we are pointing fingers, blaming people of all sort of sins, misdeeds, etc. Where will that bring us to?

    Be man enough to read and lead our people to peace and prosperity!

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