Public Interest Litigation for Dictator’s Rights

You don’t see this often: a Filipino lawyer has brought a lawsuit asking a Manila court to compel the Aquino administration to allow former president Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Filipino for Cemetery of the Heroes). Yes, that’s right, a Filipino lawyer is appealing to constitutional on behalf of one of history’s most corrupt rulers. Here are his claims:

• Whether or not the burial of the remains of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani contravenes or undermines the constitutional principle (Article II Section 5) on the maintenance of peace and order and the promotion of the general welfare. 

• Whether or not the refusal of President Aquino to allow the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan would be violative of social justice mandated under Article II Section 10 of the Constitution. 

• Whether or not the refusal of Aquino to allow the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan would violate human rights as guaranteed by Article II Section 2 of the Constitution for every human person, including the Marcos family. 

• Whether or not the refusal of the President to allow the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan would be discriminatory and a denial of equal protection of the laws guaranteed by Article II Section I of the Constitution. 

• Whether or not the refusal of Aquino to allow the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan would be violating his duty to do justice to every man imposed under his oath of office provided for in Article VII Section 5 of the Constitution. 

• Whether or not the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan will undermine Article XI Section 1 of the Constitution providing that public office is a public trust. 

• Whether or not the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan will be in gross disregard of the mandate in Article XIV Section 3(2) of the Constitution that educational institutions shall among others inculcate respect for human rights, strengthen ethical and spiritual values and develop moral character and personal discipline. 

• Whether or not the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan is in compliance with the mandate in Article XVI Section 7 of the Constitution for the State to provide immediate and adequate care, benefits and other forms of assistance to war veterans.  

• Whether or not the refusal of Aquino to allow the burial of the Marcos remains at the Libingan would violate human rights as guaranteed by Article II Section 2 of the Constitution for every human person, including the Marcos family. 

This is a legitimately “tough” case because while ideally you want to protect the human rights of every individual, including the Marcos family, it isn’t obvious that these rights are really “constitutional.” In other words, I’m not sure anybody has a constitutional right to be buried where they desire, especially when the location in question is a national cemetery. I honestly don’t know whether this lawsuit will be taken seriously or just dismissed quickly. One thing’s for sure: while the Philippines still faces struggles on the rule of law front, Filipinos are perfectly ready, willing, and able to utilize the courts for political purposes.

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