On October 22, 1940, the Supreme Court acquitted Ferdinand Marcos, his father Mariano, his father’s brother in-law Quirino Lizardo, and Mariano’s brother Pio from the charge of murdering Julio Nalundasan.

The facts of the case are well known: Nalundasan was murdered by a sniper’s bullet on September 20, 1935 while he was brushing his teeth from a 2nd floor window of his house in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Three days earlier on September 17, he had won a resounding victory over Mariano Marcos for the province’s 2nd district in the House of Representatives. On the afternoon of September 19, Nalundasan’s supporters paraded around the towns of Currimao, Paoay and Batac, a coffin marked Marcos is Dead. It was humiliating for the defeated Mariano Marcos and his family. A Laoag court convicted the four as conspirators of the crime, maintaining that the hit man was Ferdinand using a rifle taken from the UP armory where he was a student at the time. Both Ferdinand and Lizardo served jail time in Bilibid.

Aside from their murder conviction in the lower court, they were also convicted of contempt for filing eight separate charges of false testimony on June 10, 1939 against the principal witness Calixto Aguinaldo even before their case for murder was not yet resolved. While the Supreme Court acquitted them of murder, the verdict however stayed their conviction for contempt. 

This is the exact text of that conviction: “It is evident that the charges for false testimony filed by the four accused above mentioned could not be decided until the main case for murder was disposed of, since no penalty could be meted out to Calixto Aguinaldo for his alleged false testimony without first knowing the extent of the sentence to be imposed against Lizardo and the Marcoses (Revised Penal Code, art. 180). Facts considered, we are of the opinion that the action of the Marcoses and Lizardo was calculated, or at least tended directly or indirectly to obstruct the administration of justice and that, therefore, the trial court properly found them guilty of contempt.” 

On this conviction for contempt, they were meted a fine of 50 Pesos, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

It has been a broken record to say that Ferdinand Marcos was acquitted of murder. That is a fact. Yet the other fact has been buried in oblivion: that he was convicted of the crime of contempt in the same case.

Off recently from the press is the remarkable book “Marcos Lies” published by the UP Diliman Third World Studies Center. Six years in the making, the writers Joel F. Ariate Jr., Miguel Paolo P. Reyes and Lara Vinda del Mundo combed through heretofore unexplored documents of the Presidential Commission for Good Government, among others, and found damning evidence. 

The book’s pitch justifies its title: “MARCOS LIES is a compilation of essays on various lies that the Marcoses have either concocted or have done nothing to correct, lies that aided them in pursuit of power and plunder. This book shows how the lies were crafted and who enabled the Marcoses to foster their falsity on their targeted audience or those who knew the truth but have chosen to be silent.”

A truth that the Marcoses have successfully downplayed is Ferdinand’s conviction for contempt. For that reason, the three authors opened the book’s 31 chapters on the 1935 Nalundasan murder case.

The three authors argued that Marcos’s and LIzardo’s Supreme Court judgment of contempt constituted moral turpitude. Under American jurisprudence, “obstruction of justice is considered a crime involving moral turpitude,” referencing the Padilla vs. Gonzales case in the US Court of Appeals. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulations G 161-375 specifies two grounds for disqualification of burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani: “Personnel who were dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service; and authorized personnel who were convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude.” Marcos’s Supreme Court conviction was a judgment that was final. The verdict was unappealable.

In 2011, retired brigadier general Rosalino A. Alquiza told Philippine Star opinion writer Federico Pascual this: “Marcos was . . . not convicted with finality of an offense involving moral turpitude. While he was charged with several offenses, he was never convicted. Thus, he died an innocent man.”

See how the truth about his conviction by the Supreme Court has eluded us? Alquiza’s opinion is fake news. It thus must be corrected.

A future president keen on re-educating the Filipino damaged culture on the values of freedom and democracy as against the glorification of tyrannical rule like the conjugal dictatorship of the Marcoses can exhume the remains of the dictator from the Libingan ng mga Bayani and order his re-interment in Batac where he was already buried underneath his wax replica.

A very illustrative example of recent memory was Spain exhuming the remains of its absolute ruler Francisco Franco from Madrid’s Valle de los Caidos in 2019. In 2007, the Spanish government passed the Historical Memory Law to recognize the victims of the bloody Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and the Franco regime that lasted until his death in 1975. Aside from granting rights to the victims and their descendants, the law is a condemnation of political repression. Thousands were tortured, imprisoned and killed for speaking out against his regime.

The Valle de los Caidos – Valley of the Fallen – was principally a mass grave for victims from both sides of the Spanish Civil War. After Franco’s death in 1975, his remains were interred inside a basilica built out of the rocky sierra. It is a spectacular site. Critics have long argued that his interment there was akin to celebrating a repressive fascist regime. On October 24, 2019, the Spanish government successfully hurdled objections from the Franco family and on the strength of an order from the Supreme Court, exhumed his remains and re-buried it in the Mingorrubio municipal cemetery beside his wife Carmen Polo de Franco. 

What is wrong with burying a former head of state in a municipal cemetery? Even Portugal’s long-time dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar is buried in the parish cemetery of Vimeiro in a modest tomb beside his parents. The Italian fascist tyrant Benito Mussolini is buried in his rural hometown of Predappio. 

Marcos was already buried in a mausoleum beside the faux Marcos “ancestral” house in Batac, the mausoleum even playing Gregorian music as one enters. Imelda was not contented with that make-believe and wanted a fantasy that has the power to rewrite history – his burial in a cemetery of heroes. One who uses fake war medals to validate his own imagined self is no hero. He is, at best, a fake hero, but also an abomination to the real heroes – among whom are the victims of his despotic rule.

The dictator’s remains can still be exhumed. It can happen under a better government that does not extol fascism and despotism, which absolutely have no place in 21st century democracies. Perhaps not this time but in the future, yes.