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Rody won’t attend FM birthday party, defends Ilocos holiday

TWO CAKES: Activists stage a mock birthday party in Quezon City on Saturday for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ 100th birth anniversary today in an image taken from a tweet by @jann_marx. Inset shows former first lady Imelda Marcos and her daughter Imee looking at an image of Marcos made out of cupcakes during celebrations in Batac, Ilocos Norte yesterday. AFP
 

DAVAO CITY  , Philippines  — President Duterte is not attending the celebration marking the 100th birthday of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos to be held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani today.

A source close to the President said he was not even invited to the event.

The Marcos family reportedly has sent invitations to several personalities, including Duterte.

Sources, however, revealed that the invitation did not reach Duterte.

He is not even interested in attending since he is in Davao and is expected to fly to Manila tonight.

Duterte confirmed the Marcoses had asked him to declare the late strongman’s birth anniversary as a local holiday. He issued Proclamation No. 310 last Thursday, declaring the Marcos centennial as a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte.

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“I readily agreed. Why, what’s wrong?” the President said. 

“To dwell on this thing for so long a time will just divide the nation,” he added. 

Duterte has justified his decision to declare Sept. 11 as a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte.

“He (Marcos) was a president. To the Ilocanos, he was the greatest president. Why do we have to debate on that? It’s one day where they can celebrate the anniversary of a great Ilocano. As far as the Ilocanos (are) concerned, Marcos is a hero,” Duterte said. 

Duterte claimed the Ilocanos, whom he described as peace loving, are angry at the “yellows” or critics of the former president. 

Yellow is the color of the supporters of the late former president Corazon Aquino, who assumed power after Marcos was ousted in the historic People Power Revolution of 1986. 

“They think that Marcos is a bad person. But that is not shared. That sentiment or that view is not shared by all. To the Ilocanos, that’s a lot of hogwash. That’s garbage,” Duterte said. 

“The yellows until now are still ignorant. Just like (Sen. Antonio) Trillanes (IV), who is not a lawyer, and (Magdalo Rep. Gary) Alejano. They are embarrassing,” he added, referring to two of his most vocal critics in Congress. 

Duterte allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite protests by groups who believe the former president does not deserve the honor because of the human rights violations during his watch.  

Duterte insisted Marcos was qualified to be buried at the heroes’ cemetery because he was a former chief executive, lawmaker and soldier.

Tight security

With soldiers providing support, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is expected to implement tight security in and around the Libingan in Taguig today where the Marcos family will celebrate the 100th birthday of the late strongman. 

Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, chief of the Philippine Army’s Public Affairs Office, said security inside the heroes’ cemetery where the former president’s remains lie “is the same” insofar as the military is concerned. 

“We have contingencies in place to support the PNP if necessary in the event that there will be rallies,” he added.

“We will provide adequate personnel to support the PNP for the Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) if necessary,” Tiongson told reporters.

Tiongson however did not reveal the number of troops securing the Libingan, citing operation security.

“But we have adequate personnel if necessary. For the CDM, the PNP will lead and the Army will just support,” Tiongson explained.

The Marcos family has asked for a private celebration inside the Libingan banning media coverage.

Militant groups have threatened to hold protest actions near the venue condemning the Marcos family for their alleged human rights violations.

Duterte’s decision allowing former president Marcos’ body to be buried at the Libingan also sparked protests in November last year.

Marcos, who was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii three years later, has been accused of embezzling billions of dollars from state coffers during his rule.

Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International in 2004 named Marcos as the second most corrupt leader of all time, behind Indonesian dictator Suharto.

Marcos also oversaw widespread human rights abuses to maintain his grip on the country and enable his plundering, with thousands of people killed, tortured or imprisoned, rights advocates and previous administrations said.

However, no member of the Marcos clan has ever gone to prison and the family has made a stunning political comeback in recent years.

 – With Alexis Romero, Michael Punongbayan, Ding Cervantes, Perseus Echeminada, AFP

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