Former Historical Commission Chair: Supreme Court, Duterte must revisit history

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) —  History stands against the burial of deceased President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the former historical commission chair said on Thursday.

"I think they did not look at history," Maria Serena Diokno said of the Supreme Court (SC) on The Source.

The high court voted 9-5 in favor of the burial earlier this month. A little over a week later, the Marcos family held a surprise burial that sparked protests from Filipinos across the country and abroad.

Diokno left her post at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) two days ago over the controversial burial.

Related: Philippine historical commission chair resigns, rejects Marcos burial

Duterte previously said that he was approving the burial on the basis of Marcos' status as a former soldier and president.

NHCP sent a historical study and an appeal to the president to reconsider his decision, but Diokno said that Duterte "did not answer (to) either."

The study, sent in July, presented proof that Marcos had faked his military honors and rank. Having received no reply from Malacanang, they decided to upload it online in August.

Diokno added that there was a time "his tenure (as president) was not accepted" historically.

She referred to the 1973 Constitution, which was known to have enabled him to extend his term as president.

Marcos was also known to have rigged the 1986 snap elections, prompting a Comelec walkout before he was ousted from power.

"Which part of him do you bury? The dictator part? The soldier part, which when we studied showed a lot of a lot of fraudulent questions about his record even as a soldier? The part when he was illegally president?" Diokno asked.


The second NHCP appeal was made after the Supreme Court declared the burial legal. Reiterating findings from its study, it also hit human rights violations under Marcos' term.

Diokno also noted that the SC said that Marcos "can" be buried there, but it did  not mean he "should" be.

"The victims of the regime had appealed for the institution to take a "broader look... which majority in the court did not do," the former chair said.

Diokno added that if the high court did not consider history in its interpretation of laws, the president should.

"As President... your case is different. So on the one hand you have a court that says you can, but what we're saying is on the grounds of history, you shouldn't," Diokno said.


Diokno said that after hearing the oral arguments, "That was when I really began to think about whether my staying on in the commission would be something that I could reconcile with both my being as a historian and... a citizen of our country."

"You have to weigh where you can serve better," she added. "I said, maybe there are more effective ways of doing that outside the commission, since in the commission we weren't listened to anyway."

Diokno is the daughter of late Jose "Pepe" Diokno, a renowned critic of the Marcos regime who was detained during martial law.

She said she will be returning to the University of the Philippines upon her resignation.

Another NHCP Board member quits

CNN Philippines also confirmed the resignation of another member of the Board, Dr. Filomena Aguilar, Jr. on Thursday.


Diokno said that she had just learned of the resignation through text.

His exit from the commission follows not only Diokno, but NHCP Commissioner Dr. Francis Gealogo, who went public with his own resignation on Tuesday.

Gealogo had informed Diokno he would leave the day after the burial.

"I didn't speak to the others about whether they should remain or stay," Diokno said. "These actions, these are individually arrived at because we want each one to go through, you know, each one's discernment."

Aguilar has yet to comment on his resignation.

This leaves only two out of the five primary board members within the agency. The remaining members are Dr. Rene Escalante of De La Salle University and Dr. Abraham P. Sakili of the University of the Philippines.