(Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the ambush interview of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III stemming from the Supreme Court’s approval of a hero’s burial for the late president Ferdinand E. Marcos. On Tuesday, by a vote of 9-5, the SC has allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani).
Senator Pimentel (SP): I’ve been asking for a copy pero wala pang may copy. Definitely a decision by a court cannot, can probably establish a right to be buried in a burial place called “Libingan ng mga Bayani” but a court cannot decide the ‘hero’ status of somebody. Being a hero is the decision of the people, is the collective decision of the people. Not of a court.
Q: So magiging divisive ba itong SC ruling na ito?
SP: Of course. Pero depende po sa laman, depende po sa reasoning. But I have not seen it. May kopya ba kayo? Wala pa no? Wala pa.
Q: Sir ang nakalagay doon ang qualifications kung bakit pinayagan ang former president.
SP: Actually my staff has been following up a copy, wala. As soon as I get a copy I’ll go over it. And it depends on how the Supreme Court reasoned out in the decision, this can actually prolong the division in the country between Marcos and anti-Marcos forces.
Q: So ang individual stand mo ay you are against. Di ba individual decision kayo sa PDP Laban.
SP: Ah yes, oo. This has been one issue where I surprisingly found out that the party is divided. And I got surprised because I thought overwhelmingly we will be against.
Q: Sir doon sa SC ruling ang kauutusan ay manggagaling pa rin sa pangulo kung papayagan ang burial?
SP: Sa pagkakaintindi ko sa kaso, they’re questioning the decision of the president eh. ‘Dun tayo sa expanded judicial review yan eh, yung abuse of discretion. Kapag wala, ibig sabihin ‘nun, there’s nothing which will prevent the President from carrying out his order or instruction.
Q: May ibang nananawagan, sir, na huwag na lang i-grant ni Pangulong Duterte ‘yun. Would you be one of them sir, na you’ll talk to the President na this will be very decisive?
SP: Kapag nakita ko pa siya, I’ll discuss it with him. Titignan ko muna yung nasa isipan niya. Basahin muna natin yung Supreme Court decision.
Q: So when you say “discuss”, you’re going to tell him your position?
SP: Yes, because depending on the reasoning of the Supreme Court that the power is with the President, so that means he can change his mind.
Q: So you’d like to convince him to change his mind, given your position about the issue, sir?
SP: Pag-uusapan namin. Tignan natin. Pero sasabihin ko na Siguro sa kanya yung personal opinion ko na he is not a hero—former president Marcos is not a hero, hence, let us rethink the propriety of burying somebody in a place called “Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
Q: Sir kahit na divisive, hindi naman ito pwedeng maka- destabilize sa Duterte administration?
SP: Hindi naman po, because he was not part of the abuses of the Marcos regime.