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Duterte firm on decision to bury Marcos at heroes' cemetery amid protests

(Philstar.com) - August 14, 2016 - 4:00pm
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is standing by his decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite protests by groups who believe that the move would distort history and send wrong signals.
 
Hundreds of people staged demonstrations in Manila and other parts of the country on Sunday amid stormy weather to denounce the planned burial of Marcos, whom they described as a fake hero who condoned torture, executions and other human rights abuses.
 
 
 
Critics of Duterte’s decision said interring Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery is tantamount to rewarding tyranny and would dishonor the real heroes who fought for freedom during Martial Law.
 
The president, however, is unfazed by the criticisms.
 
“The president has repeatedly said that he would allow any form of protest, like organizing mass actions against the (Marcos) burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani… The president’s stance, however, remains firm. There is clarity in the regulations governing the late President Marcos burial,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said. 
 
“The President shall therefore remain undistracted and it shall be governance as usual with his full and undivided attention in winning the war against drugs, criminality and corruption,” he added.
 
Andanar said the protests are “consistent with his philosophy that criticism, good or bad, true or not, is part of the territory of governance in public.”   
 
Last week, Duterte instructed his officials to start the preparations for the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The president said the interment would put closure to the issue and allow the country to move on.
 
While critics insist that Marcos is unfit to be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani because of the human rights abuses committed during his presidency, Duterte believes the late leader is qualified as a former president and a soldier.
 
 
“Even if he is not a hero, he was a soldier. Even if he didn’t receive the medals, correct, but that is the record of another country. Why would I, in making a decision, refer to the records of another country? We have long ceased to be a vassal state of the United States. That’s over. It’s history,” Duterte said last Thursday, referring to US reports about allegations that Marcos made false claims about his war record.
 
“That’s the law! We cannot go out of the law. Nobody is questioning about his (being) a hero (or not). I am not dwelling on his exploits,” he added.
 
Duterte said those who are opposed to the burial should have passed a law prohibiting the interment of Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery.
 
Various groups have vowed to ask the Supreme Court to stop the burial but Malacañang believes any effort to do so does not have a legal basis.
 
“The regulation issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines is very clear. Those who are entitled to be interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani are, among others, soldiers and presidents so on the basis of that, the late president Marcos is entitled to be buried there,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told reporters last Tuesday. 
 
Marcos, who was ousted during the historic 1986 EDSA Revolution, died of kidney, heart and lung ailments in 1989 while in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii. 
 
His remains were brought back to the Philippines in 1993 and currently inside a glass coffin in a family mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

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