A majority of Supreme Court (SC) justices are poised to reject the petitions seeking to stop the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), court sources told The Manila Times.
An unimpeachable source said several SC justices have manifested their intention to uphold President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to allow Marcos’ burial at the LNMB, arguing it was issued by virtue of his “presidential prerogative.”
The Manila Times was also able to gather the inputs of at least eight justices of the SC who shared their opinions on the issue. A head count of the justices showed that there was a sufficient number for the rendering of a decision junking the petitions.
SC justices are scheduled to vote on the petitions on Tuesday, November 8.
Another source inside the SC even noted that the number of justices poised to junk the petitions seeking to block Marcos’ burial at the LNMB could go up from eight to 10.
Several justices contend that Marcos may be buried at the LNMB because there is no law prohibiting it and the order for his interment there was issued within the bounds of the President’s authority.
Another SC source said Marcos has the right to be buried in “government property” as a former president and as a soldier who was even awarded a medal of valor.
“Libingan ng mga Bayani is the cemetery for soldiers and presidents and there is no law law prohibiting him to be buried there. It is within the powers and prerogative of President Duterte,” the SC source pointed out.
Only seven votes are needed to allow the burial of the late strongman and this can be easily mustered.
There are only 14 justices set to vote on the petitions since Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes has inhibited himself from the case. Reyes is a classmate of Duterte at the San Beda College of Law and also a close friend and business partner of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The original ponente or writer of the decision was Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa who, in his draft, granted the petition and disallowed the burial of Marcos at the LNMB.
The Caguioa draft decision was opposed by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta who, in his draft dissenting opinion, denies the petitions to the case and grants the burial.
Peralta opines that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Chief Executive in ordering the burial of Marcos at the LNMB.
Once the Peralta decision gets the majority votes from the other justices, Caguioa’s draft decision will serve as the leading dissenting opinion in the case.
The SC source said the votes “to watch” are the those of justices who have already shown their “actuations” against Marcos’ burial at the LNMB, namely: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
The petitions were filed by former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, et al.; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, et al.; former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales, et al., former senator Heherson Alvarez, et al.; and Zaira Baniaga, et al.
The memorandum allowing the interment, dated August 7, was signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and addressed to Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya. The memo informed Visaya of the order of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 11 regarding Marcos’ burial at the Libingan for purposes of planning and coordination.
Government lawyers, headed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, defended this by saying that Marcos’ achievements as a soldier who fought against the Japanese during World War II would not be diminished just because he was ousted via the first “people power” revolt in 1986.
The proposed burial was stopped by the SC via a status quo ante order issued pending the resolution on the petitions challenging Duterte’s move to allow the burial of Marcos.
The LNMB, a military-owned cemetery, is where fallen soldiers, national artists, and other personalities “worthy of emulation” are interred.
Petitioners cite atrocities during Marcos’ Martial Law regime as the main argument against the planned burial.