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August 14, 2016

Reacting to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has recently released its study  entitled Why Ferdinand E. Marcos Should Not Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The Executive Summary, as follows:

President Rodrigo R. Duterte proposes to bury Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) because he “was a Filipino soldier, period.” The NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES (NHCP) objects to the burial of Mr. Marcos at the LNMB based on his record as a soldier. The NHCP study demonstrates that:

  1. Mr. Marcos lied about receiving U.S. medals: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Order of the Purple Heart, which he claimed as early as about 1945.
  1. His guerrilla unit, the Ang Mga Maharlika, was never officially recognized and neither was his leadership of it.
  1. U.S. officials did not recognize Mr. Marcos’s rank promotion from Major in 1944 to Lt. Col. By 1947.
  1. Some of Mr. Marcos’s actions as a soldier were officially called into question by upper echelons of the U.S. military, such as his command over the Allas Intelligence Unit (described as “usurpation”), his commissioning of officers (without authority), his abandonment of USAFIP-NL presumably to build an airfield for Gen. Roxas, his collection of money for the airfield (described as “illegal”), and his listing of his name on the roster of different units (called a “malicious criminal act”).

Mr. Marcos’s military record is fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies. The rule in history is that when a claim is disproven—such as Mr. Marcos’s claims about his medals, rank, and guerrilla unit—it is simply dismissed. When, moreover, a historical matter is under question or grave doubt, as expressed in the military records about Mr. Marcos’s actions and character as a soldier, the matter may not be established or taken as fact. A doubtful record also does not serve as sound, unassailable basis of historical recognition of any sort, let alone burial in a site intended, as its name suggests, for heroes.

For these reasons, the NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES opposes the plan to bury Mr. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

I suppose that if a study should concern itself on the qualification laid down by the President, which is, “because he was a Filipino soldier, period”,  all that needs to be shown in answer to “why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan”,  is that Marcos is neither a Filipino nor a soldier.   But, apparently, the research has another purpose.

In any case, I took time to read it, three times in all.  I thought the study was haphazardly done, biased in favor of materials adverse to the former President.

My quick personal comments on the summary:

  1. That Marcos lied about his medals, the study did not present conclusive proof . All that could be gathered is that, at best, the medals are doubtful for lack of corroboration and Marcos’ supposed heroic exploits were too Rambo-like to be true.   If anything, more exhaustive research is warranted.  For instance, if the medals were fake, how and on what basis did he acquire them?  I suppose that as these are meant to recognize exemplary acts of courage and heroism these medals are rare products of special craftsmanship and were not given away by the US Armed Forces like candy.  Or, did he have his medals forged by a forger-craftsman somewhere in Recto?  Yet if NHCP is so convinced his medals are fake, why, it should consider petitioning the US government to disown these.
  2. His supposed guerrilla unit, Ang Mga Maharlika, was not officially recognized by the Americans, true, but the study omits that subsequent appeals for recognition bore the endorsement of prominent Filipinos of the resistance movement.    This should also be taken in the context of the fact that the US government actually  gave recognition to only less than 5,000(?) Filipinos as legitimate guerrilla fighters when in reality more than 200,000 Filipinos fought in the war. The Rescission Act of 1946 should provide more context.  To be sure, even American officials concede to the difficulties of validating claims on account of the chaos of the war.
  3. It had always been Major Marcos, as far as I know. But what’s the point as an issue against his burial at the Libingan?
  4. What is Marcos’ side of the story? As a rule, there are always two sides to a controversy.  There seems to be a predisposition to take the accounts and assertions of the Americans unquestioningly.  Military organizations are often occasioned by  rivalry, intrigues, misunderstanding, disputes, internal bickering, and confusion within and among the ranks.   In this war, the intermix of race and nationality of Filipino and American soldiers must have added color and complications.  If anything,  one could glean that Marcos indeed was too independent-minded and  bullheaded for the Americans, and probably had serious problem following orders from his American superiors.  Bad blood seemed to exist.

It is one thing to be doubtful; it is another to summarily allege  fraud and accord malice on the basis of that doubt. As it is, the line of argument goes this way:  it is uncorroborated/lacking in evidence therefore doubtful, doubtful therefore fraudulent.  Worse,  that doubt seems to be taken automatically against Marcos.

Studies of this nature should strive to be more objective and in-depth if it is to be taken more seriously.  The slant of the research is so palpable that even the attempt to make it appear objective only magnify the bias.  It is not scholarly, it is not comprehensive,  it is not compelling.   It was only meant to stop the burial, if it could. You’d think this one would impress Duterte?

Marcos, a hero or heel?  That is better left to future historians.  His haters of course think the jury is out: he is evil, period.

By the way, did the NHCP also ever conduct a study entitled “Why President Cory Aquino’s Dog Should Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani”?

(NOTE: Several revisions have been made since this post was first uploaded.)


2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2017 6:12 pm

    An interesting post. My father, Col. Arthur P. Murphy, was G-2 and, toward the end of the war, Chief of Staff of the guerrilla group USAFIP-NL under command of Col. Russell W. Volckmann. My father’s path crossed that of Maj. Ferdinand Marcos in late 1944 when Marcos turned up at USAFIP-NL’s 5th District headquarters in Isabela, then under command of Col. Romulo Manriquez. No one knew who Marcos was, but he wanted to join USAFIP-NL. He also demanded to know where USAFIP-NL was hiding Esperanza Osmeña and her family, recently rescued from Baguio following a plan my father had put together. This fact was top-secret, so it appeared Marcos must be a spy sent by the Japanese puppet government. Initially, my father ordered Marcos executed. Volckmann countermanded that order upon the advice of Col. Calixto Duque and instead had Marcos brought to USAFIP-NL’s headquarters at Darigayos, Luna, La Union, where he spent the remainder of the war as a “public affairs officer.” My book, “The Luckiest Guerrilla,” scheduled for publication in 2018, covers these events and more.

  2. John Christian Canda permalink
    March 4, 2018 3:20 am

    The late Colonel Arturo Aruiza mentioned in his book “Malacañang to Makiki” that the New York Times admitted the existence of another Army document that showed that the Maharlika Unit had held no firearms before the Americans arrived in the Philipines — in short, that the unit did exist but before January, 1945, it had no firearms. The same article revealed that 111 names on Maharlika roster of Marcos had been recognised by the US Army as having served the US forces.

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