Ateneo de Manila University President’s memorandum to the university community on the Marcos burial issue
9 November 2016
On 8 November 2016, the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines decided to allow the burial of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the historic and symbolic Libingan ng mga Bayani. With no hesitation, the Ateneo de Manila University expresses its indignation over this decision, calling this an act of convenient equivocation and injustice on the part of the Supreme Court.
In its decision, the Supreme Court argued by saying: “While he was not all good, he was not pure evil either. Certainly, just a human who erred like us.” Such an argument amounts to a monumental denial of the suffering and murder of thousands of our people and the billions of public funds stolen during those tragic years of Martial Law. Ferdinand Marcos did not just err like us. Decisions that were made during his regime were marked by atrocity and impunity. People were imprisoned, tortured, and killed just for harboring different beliefs and convictions. Those years were deliberately disruptive of democracy and freedom. Martial Law wasn’t just a stumble in the dark. It was a careful orchestration of violence and power conducted in the name of order and an artificial peace.
The Supreme Court hides behind the letter of the law, taking the myopic view that the issue is one of mere legality and politics. The Court has chosen to pass this issue back on to the executive. In so doing, it misses the opportunity and its own power to affirm the enshrined principles embedded in our Constitution, which they have affirmed as rising from the ashes of the Marcos administration.
I call upon our community to continue to protest and express our indignation, to discern what true closure might mean concretely in this case, to create openings for our voice to be heard authentically, to protect the democratic space and engage in meaningful dialogue with our fellow Filipinos. It is easy to think of the other as enemy but we will not yield to the sinister forces that want to divide us now as a people. The only way to get to the true path of peace, justice and reconciliation is to engage in the process of listening to each other.
Even as we embark on these, I would like to remind everyone that not all wars are won on one battlefield. We will fight for the truth in our classrooms, in the work that we do in the communities we serve, in the many places in government, business, and civil society, wherever we find our alumni engaged in building our nation and our people, so that we will never forget what cannot and should not be forgotten.
In all these, we draw strength from the power of the cross of Christ, who calls us to stand in solidarity with those who incarnate his truth and love and justice.
Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ