FM buried in Libingan on September 18

Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - All is set for the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Sept. 18, his son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., disclosed yesterday.

Their family has, in fact, started preparations for the interment rites that include military honors, according to Marcos.

He said President Duterte has given the go-signal for his family to finally bury his father at Libingan during a meeting with him at Malacañang earlier this week.

Yesterday, over lunch with selected editors, Marcos said he and older sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, have been coordinating with key officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that administers the heroes’ cemetery.

“My sister Imee is taking care of the rites in Ilocos because Ilocanos would get angry at us if they would not be able to pay their last respects to him. We’ll bring him first to Sarrat, then to Paoay, before taking him by plane for the burial here at Libingan,” he said.

Meanwhile, he has been coordinating with the AFP protocol and learned that aside from military honors – a 21-gun salute – and horse-ridden funeral cortege, they must conform with the tradition of burying the remains at exactly noon.

Asked by The STAR why Sept. 18 and not Sept. 11 or the birth anniversary of the elder Marcos, the former senator replied: “Because we want another day to celebrate, and not only on his birth or death anniversary.”

Marcos Jr., who ran but lost in the vice presidential race during the May 9 polls, told the editors that the lunch gathering was part of his “pasasalamat (thank you)” for the fair coverage of his campaign.

He came along with his wife, lawyer Liza Araneta-Marcos, and two of his three sons – Zandro and Simon.

Their youngest, Vincent, was not around.

Marcos is contesting the slim margin – 200,000-plus votes – by which he lost to Liberal Party (LP) candidate, former Camarines Sur representative Leni Robredo, in a protest filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

His lawyers lodged separate complaints against Smartmatic and the Commission on Elections before the lower courts all the way to the Supreme Court (SC).

During the campaign, then Davao City mayor Duterte and former vice president Jejomar Binay replied “yes” to a question on whether they would allow the burial of former president Marcos at the Libingan.

The issue was raised to all five presidential candidates – Duterte, Binay, Sen. Grace Poe, LP standard-bearer Manuel Roxas and former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

A Marcos burial at Libingan has been vehemently opposed by human rights victims of the late dictator during the martial law regime and other critics.

But Duterte has been unperturbed over sentiments against the issue.

Prior to his official assumption into office at Malacañang, then president-elect Duterte dismissed criticisms on the commitment he gave to Marcos Jr. to make good his campaign stand to allow a Libingan burial for his father.

During the courtesy call at Malacañang last Wednesday by The STAR editors and reporters, Duterte praised Marcos as “the most brilliant president” that the Philippines ever had.

He lauded the Masagana 99 rice production program of the late president as trailblazing, among other long-range plans and programs that propelled the country to where it is now.

“Ang ganda ng patakbo nya (he ran the country well), even in Mindanao, nasira lang ng asawa (it was just ruined by his wife),” the President said.

Though he did not name her, Duterte was obviously referring to Marcos’ widow, former first lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, who has been reelected for a third and last term as representative of the second district of Ilocos Norte.

Duterte renewed his commitment for a Marcos burial last June 11 when Marcos Jr. flew to Davao City for a courtesy call.

“The issue on the burial of President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani has long created divisions among our people,” Duterte said after the June 11 meeting with the young Marcos.

“I will allow the burial of President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani not because he is a hero. He was a Filipino soldier, period. That can be arranged immediately,” Duterte said.

Marcos Jr. told The STAR he met anew with Duterte earlier this week to update him about the burial arrangements.

“We had a meeting from 10:30 in the evening up to 2 o’clock in the morning,” Marcos quipped.

The Libingan is dedicated as resting ground for slain AFP personnel, war heroes, former Cabinet officials, national artists and national scientists, and former presidents. 

Three former Philippine presidents – Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal – are buried at the cemetery.

The remains of former president Marcos have been kept in a refrigerated glass-paneled crypt displayed at the family-owned mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte. He died on Sept. 28,1989 at age 72 while in exile in Hawaii.

The Marcoses fled to Hawaii at the height of the February 1986 EDSA people power revolution.

Marcos’ remains were brought back to the Philippines on board a plane that landed in Ilocos Norte in 1993, during the term of former president Fidel Ramos, a cousin of the late president.

Aside from human rights abuses during the Marcos regime, the former president and his family were also charged in court with several cases of alleged amassing ill-gotten wealth while in power for almost two decades.

Some of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth stashed in secret bank accounts in Switzerland were later recovered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board, which validates and processes reparation claims for victims of rights abuses under the Marcos regime, will compensate valid claimants out of the P10 billion awarded to the Philippine government from the ill-gotten wealth in a Swiss account owned by the elder Marcos.

While they ran under different parties in the last elections, Marcos reiterated his support for Duterte’s administration “in any way possible.”

Duterte’s runningmate was Sen. Alan Cayetano while Marcos’ partner was former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The young Marcos is currently undertaking “pasasalamat” tours all over the country as he also seeks to explain the reasons behind his poll protest against Robredo, who is now part of Duterte’s Cabinet.

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