NHCP raises doubts anew on Marcos medals, track record

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 09 2016 08:00 PM

There is no corroboration between the U.S. military records and the biographies of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) stressed on Tuesday.

In an interview with Mornings@ANC, NHCP Chairperson Professor Maria Serena Diokno noted that while Marcos was recognized by the U.S. military records as a soldier, the guerilla unit he claimed to have founded and led, called 'Ang Mga Maharlika,' was never recognized.

"In fact they even questioned Mr. Marcos’ leadership of the guerilla unit and we found letters and appeals back and forth between Mr. Marcos and U.S. military officials and the military officials of different echelons of the US military hierarchy," she said.

"We read all the documents and with finality, the decision was the guerilla organization was not recognized," she said.

READ: DND issues memo on Marcos burial at heroes' cemetery 

The commission published on Friday a paper they have submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 12 on "Why Ferdinand E. Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani."

In the paper, the NHCP also looked into the medals Marcos was said to have been awarded as a soldier.

Diokno said, they have found an "unauthored wartime history of guerilla unit titled Ang Mga Maharlika" from circa 1945 which appears to have been written by Marcos himself because there was a paragraph wherein he shifted to the first person "I," before going back to referring to himself in the third person.

"In that document, he claims that he received 3 medals--the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Order of the Purple Heart. You can check all of these officials websites of the US government, his name does not appear," she said.

She added, they also found records of a supposed state visit of Marcos in the 60s wherein the US Ambassador to the Philippines at that time recommended to the State Department to "why not award him this medal because he has not received it."

"That was in the 60s, but this record that I’m referring to was written in about 1945," she said.

Diokno also noted that although the four biographies sanctioned by Marcos all say that he received the Distinguished Service Cross, two of them say that it was pinned by General Douglas Macarthur, one said it was pinned on him while in a foxhole.

"You have to look at these kinds of documents and then you corroborate them with the archival records, and that was where we found there was no corroboration. The archival records did not bear out the claims that were made in the official biography," she said.

This is the reason, said Diokno, why the commission is opposing Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

"What we’re saying here is that if you have doubts about it, then those doubts would not serve as basis for giving any kinds of recognition, and surely if you bury him in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, by the name ‘Bayani,’ then there is some recognition there," she said.

TEACHING DUTERTE HISTORY?

Diokno said it is within their legal mandate to "advice the president and congress about historical matters," "resolve historical controversy," and "undertake historical studies and disseminate historical knowledge."

The paper was published in opposition to the administration's decision to bury Marcos at the heroes' cemetery in accordance to the military's guidelines to have soldiers interred there.

Diokno noted, Duterte said while campaigning that "he wants to bury Mr. Marcos there because he was the greatest president of the Philippines," but backtracked into conceding that some may not agree.

"He said, ‘O sige kung ayaw ng iba, we bury him there because he was a soldier. Period.’ We only focused on the records as a military soldier, but if you want another study that will focus on his record as a president and dictator for 14 years, well, we can do that," she said.

But the commission chose not to as some may interpret it as a political move.

"We chose not to look at that because then people would say ‘Nako, may bahid yan ng ganun; mga aktibista yan, may galit yan sa martial law’ ganyan. Let’s just look at what the archives tell us," she said.

As a commission mandated by law to be primarily responsible for history, Diokno noted that historians "do not write to please."

"We base our work on evidence. If it’s favorable, good. If it’s not favorable, what can we do? But we cannot fabricate evidence to suit a political agenda, or a particular interest—not even the historian’s own interest," she said.