Four petitions have been filed to prevent the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The Solicitor General invoked AFP Regulations G 161-375 to counter the arguments in the first three petitions — a move that is both expected and predictable.
The fourth petition bases its arguments on RA No. 289 (An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country).
The Solicitor General’s position:
The OSG comment, meantime, pointed out petitioners are proceeding from a “wrong premise;” the OSG argued that the Libingan is not the National Pantheon referred to under RA No. 289.
The OSG insists that there exists no National Pantheon to this day since it was supposed to be erected at East Avenue in Quezon City by virtue of Proclamation No. 431 issued by President Elpidio Quirino on December 23, 1953, which failed to materialize.
That, I think, is an off-tangent position. Proclamation No. 431 merely alloted a parcel of land to implement the provisions of RA 289. It is a presidential proclamation which does NOT have the force of law. The fact that said allotted land was never used for the purpose did NOT have the effect of amending nor repealing RA No. 289.
When Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 and declared martial law in 1972, it was via presidential proclamations too. Proclamation No. 889 and Proclamation No. 1081, respectively, to be more precise. Why did those have the force of law? Because the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and place the country under martial law was granted by the 1935 Constitution to the President. The framers of the 1935 Constitution did not anticipate that some three and half decades later, a president would actually use and abuse those powers.
Sad, but true. Marcos did have in his favor a Constitutional basis for issuing both proclamations.
So, it isn’t wise to compare the nature and effect of Marcos’s Proclamation No. 889 and Proclamation No. 1081 with that of Quirino’s Proclamation No. 431.
While the public cannot expect a decision by the Supreme Court within the next day or two, it is worth anticipating how the Court will be divided this time. Will its decision reflect and affirm the common perception that the incumbent Justices are divided into: 1) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointees and 2) Noynoy Aquino appointees?
Put another way, will it be reminiscent of the voting in the dismissal of the plunder charges against Mrs. Arroyo?