MANILA - The burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani brought closure to a decades-long issue and unified the country, Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta said Thursday.
Peralta, one of the 5 candidates vying to become the next Chief Justice, penned the controversial Supreme Court decision allowing the late strongman's much criticized burial at the heroes' cemetery in November 2016.
"I think so. We do not anymore receive complaints about the burial of President Marcos," Peralta told members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when asked if the Marcos burial "brought unity to the country."
"We now focus on the issues confronting the nation, unlike before the burial, there were so many issues unresolved," he said.
The magistrate also told the panel that the country was able to "move on" because of the decision.
"We cannot live in the past and I think we have moved on. The issues now are not about the Marcos burial," Peralta said.
"Whatever is in the past, we have to move on. We will not improve as a nation if you do that," he said.
In 2016, 9 justices, including Peralta, voted to allow Marcos's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, hallowed grounds reserved for soldiers, former presidents and national artists.
"Issues that have lingered and festered for so long and which unnecessarily divided the people and slow the path to the future have to be interred," read the high court's 2016 decision Peralta penned.
"To move on is not to forget the past. It is to focus on the present and the future, leaving behind what is better left for history to ultimately decide," he said in the ruling.
The move drew flak especially from relatives of those who were tortured and abducted during Marcos' martial law, a period marked by human rights abuses, repression and plunder.
In August 2017, the high court junked motions for reconsideration seeking to overturn its ruling on the burial.
Critics brought the issue before the high court following the Duterte administration's grant of Marcos' interment at the heroes' cemetery.