Historian: Marcos' war exploits 'full of lies'

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The debate rages on whether or not Ferdinand Marcos deserves a hero’s burial.

President Rodrigo Duterte believes Marcos deserves a spot at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (National Heroes' Cemetery) because he is a World War II veteran.

But the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) disagrees with the President's decision.

A recent study by NHCP titled, "Why Ferdinand E. Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani" concludes Marcos' tales of heroism are "full of lies."

"We discovered that many of the claims made were not true," NHCP Chairperson and Professor Maria Serena Diokno told CNN Philippines, Wednesday.

As early as 1945, Marcos was already claiming to have received three major U.S. Army medals – the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Order of the Purple Heart.

This was supposedly in recognition of his courageous efforts to repulse the advancing Japanese Forces in Bataan at the height of the World War in 1942.

Diokno, however, said the former strongman's claims are false.

"You can actually check the website of the U.S. (United States) roster of recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, Order of the Purple Heart, and you will not see Mr. Marcos' name among the recipients," said Diokno.

The author verified Diokno’s claims with the said websites. His name is not present in any of the mentioned roster of awardees.

Also read: Marcos burial in heroes cemetery mocks our sacrifices - martial law victims

Ang Mga Maharlika

When Marcos first ran for President in 1965, he also claimed to have led a guerilla unit called Ang Mga Maharlika.

But declassified documents from the U.S. National Archives show the group was never recognized.

"They are not recommended for recognition because of the limited military value of their duties," said Maj. R.G. Langham in a declassified letter entitled Recognition of Guerilla Unit dated May 31, 1945.

The U.S. Armed Forces also said Marcos never led such a guerilla unit.

"It is quite obvious that Marcos did not exercise any control over a guerilla organization prior to liberation," said Capt. Elbert R. Curtis in another declassified letter.

"Quite a number of American Military officials had very, very serious doubts," Diokno explained.

Malicious criminal act?

Marcos also listed his name on different guerrilla groups apparently to get more back pay from the U.S. government.

Many of the Filipinos who had served in the war were entitled to claim remuneration and other military benefits after the clashes ended.

"If you double list your name in different units, how many times will you claim?," said Diokno.

A U.S. Army report concluded such is a fraudulent and malicious criminal act.

"The Americans (army officials) were quite appalled that in a number of cases, they found double listing of names. One of them said it's a malicious criminal act," added Diokno.

Philippine Medal For Valor

The Philippine Army, meanwhile, said even if Marcos' claims are false, he was still a Philippine Medal For Valor awardee.

"Based on our record, he fought during World War II, wala rin kaming binabago doon [we did not change anything there]," explained Col. Benjamin Hao, Spokesperson of the Philippine Army.

A description of his medal at the Philippine Army museum said then Lieutenant Marcos “successfully reconnoitered and located the Japanese Army’s 9th infantry regiment under Col. Susumi Takechi in Bataan.”

It added, Marcos also hastily organized a company-sized blocking force that prevented the decimation of withdrawing U.S. troops and delayed the fall of Bataan.

Also read: Expert: No law vs Marcos burial at heroes’ cemetery - expert

Soldier, but never hero

Diokno said for a person to be recognized as a hero, there must be solid and unassailable evidence of her courage, honesty and integrity.

“If there is a very great doubt about somebody’s record for example, we do not use that as a basis for giving that person any kind of historical recognition,” explained Diokno.

Diokno, who is also the daughter of former senator and staunch anti-Martial Law activist Jose Diokno, said all her office can do is to present the facts to Duterte.

Professor Diokno sent the study to the chief executive’s office on July 12, hoping he would reconsider his decision of allowing a heroes’ burial for Marcos.

The NHCP embargoed the study before the public until August 5, Friday, as the President was still not giving any response.

A day after, the President confirmed he allowed Marcos’ burial at the Libingan since he was a former soldier.

For Diokno, Marcos may have been a soldier, but never a hero.