POSTSCRIPT / June 25, 1998 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Surveys show majority favors Marcos burial

A RATHER worn-out joke says that Joseph “Erap” Estrada smiles whenever lightning flashes in the sky because he thinks somebody is taking his picture.

But it seems at this point that only a terrifying thunderbolt and a stern direct order from God — para bang sa sine — can stop the stubborn Estrada from carrying out his decision to bury the late President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani on July 11.

Seriously, I see at least two other face-saving devices left for Estrada to change his mind. One is a court issuing a restraining order. Another is former first lady Imelda R. Marcos postponing the controversial interment to a more propitious date.

A group of human rights lawyers led by former Senator Rene Saguisag is set to go to court and Estrada has said he would obey a court order. Fine.

On the second possibility, Mrs. Marcos should realize that her insistence to give a hero’s burial to her beloved Andy has put in a bind her ever-loyal friend from San Juan.

Following the family’s overused numerology, Mrs. Marcos insists on July 11 (7-11) as burial date. Since he had agreed, poor Estrada is sticking to the deal even if that means squandering the 100-day honeymoon when a new president is traditionally given the benefit of the doubt.

Estrada needs time, kahit kunwari lang, to go through the motions of consultations. In the end he could still proceed with the burial, but at least he would have given the impression that he first listened to all concerned sectors.

But July 11 is too close for a consultation charade. I think Mrs. Marcos should help her friend get out of the box by agreeing to, say, move the burial to November 11. After all, that’s still 11-7.

Meantime, the battered Estrada has been losing his cool, unwittingly projecting a hoodlum character and losing valuable goodwill even before he could take his oath on June 30.

* * *

AS we say every now and then, there is often a distortion of so-called public opinion as echoed by the press. In Manila, public opinion is what your favorite newspaper says — meaning it is what the vested interests controlling that paper say it is.

In the media jungle in Manila, there is now a crescendo of objections to the projected burial of Marcos in the Libingan’s hallowed (“hollowed,” said a characteristic typo in the Inquirer) grounds. Is that the public opinion?

How do Filipinos, at least those old enough to know the issues, really stand on the question?

Unfortunately, there is no up-to-date survey on this. The occasional media surveys are unscientific and should be dismissed as unreliable. Just as misleading are the commissioned comments of some of the leading columnists and editorialists.

* * *

THERE are two previous surveys by the respected Social Weather Stations on a Marcos burial, but they are old. One was done in September 1992 and the other in April 1997, both with samples of 1,200 adult Filipinos and a margin of error of 3 percent.

The SWS survey of September 1992 asked in Pilipino:

“In your opinion, should the body of ex-President Marcos be allowed to be buried in the Philippines or not? If yes: Do you think his burial should be with honors or without honors?”

Mahar Mangahas, SWS boss, reports that of those surveyed, 13 percent would not permit a burial in the Philippines, 34 percent would permit it but without honors, and 52 percent would permit it with honors.

In Metro Manila, those who would allow burial with honors were a majority (57 percent), in Luzon outside Metro Manila also 57 percent, in Mindanao 51 percent, and in the Visayas 40 percent.

The higher the socio-economic class, the more was the tendency to allow burial with honors: 55 percent among class ABC, 52 percent among Class D, and 49 percent among Class E. This stand was more common among men (56 percent) than among women (48 percent).

* * *

THE question asked in the second SWS survey of April 1997 was phrased this way (in Pilipino):

“Former President Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989 and his remains were allowed to be returned to the Philippines in 1993. Since then, the remains of President Marcos have been in a glass case in a temporary mausoleum in his ancestral home in Ilocos Norte. Which of the following three views is the closest to your own opinion?

“a. He should not be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he was not a good President.

“b. He should be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he was also a veteran of the Second World War.

“c. He should be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, because he was a former President, but not at this time since it would cause social unrest.”

* * *

SURVEY results showed 23 percent of respondents opposed a burial in the Libingan, 52 percent favored it along the war-veteran rationale, and 22 percent favored it in principle for an ex-president but thought it was not the right time (April 1997).

Note that the survey did not ask if honors should accompany the burial.

Geographical distribution: The war-veteran reason was accepted by 53 percent of respondents in Metro Manila, 60 percent in Luzon outside Metro Manila, 53 percent in Mindanao, and 35 percent in the Visayas.

As to preference by classes, 54 percent of Class ABC, 52 percent of Class D, and 54 percent of Class E accepted the war-veteran line.

There is an ongoing SWS survey which asks (1) whether Marcos should be buried in the Libingan or not, and (2) if so, with special honors or not? But the results will be known after July 11.

My own response would be: No Libingan burial for Marcos!

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 11, 1998)

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