‘FM an enemy of heroes’

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was an “enemy of heroes” and his family should just bury him in their hometown.

Protesters delivered this message yesterday as President Duterte refused to budge on his decision to allow Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani or heroes’ cemetery in Taguig.

Thousands gathered in heavy rain in Manila’s Rizal Park to denounce the Marcos family’s plans to move the dictator’s remains from his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte to the Libingan next month.

Several lawmakers attended the gathering, among them Sen. Risa Hontiveros who called Marcos an “unrepentant enemy of our heroes.”

“We would be the laughing stock of the entire planet,” she told the protesters.

Hontiveros said she has filed a Senate resolution opposing a hero’s burial for Marcos.

Sen. Leila de Lima said burying Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery could mean “tyranny can rule this country again.”

Others who attended the rally included Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, former senator Wigberto Tañada, former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales and former interior secretary Mar Roxas.

The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa called on the Marcos family to “move on” and bury the late dictator in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.

“The former dictator ruthlessly ruled and divided this nation for over two decades, thus, his burial at Libingan can never be considered a unifying action,” the group said in a statement.

“It is the Marcos family that needs to move on in this issue by doing a simple and final act of laying their dead in Ilocos,” the labor group added.

The family kept the preserved body of Marcos on display after he died in exile in 1989 following a popular revolt three years earlier, demanding that it be buried with full honors at the Libingan.

Marcos was elected president in 1965 and declared martial law in 1972, allowing him to rule as a dictator while he, his family and allies enriched themselves through massive corruption and his troops brutally stamped out dissent.

But Duterte, who has styled himself as an anti-corruption crusader, defended Marcos, saying his father had served in the Marcos cabinet and he himself had even voted for Marcos before.

Duterte has previously said that he won the May 9 elections partly with the support of the Marcos family who remain influential in their bailiwick in the northern Philippines.

The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) called on Duterte to call off the plan so as to heal a “festering wound” in the nation’s history.

“Marcos does not belong in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He was not a hero,” stressed the national association of 1,252 Catholic schools in the country in the statement addressed to the President.

The group branded Marcos as the “country’s most infamous plunderer and tyrant.”

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) issued a statement branding Duterte as “bull- headed” in his decision to accord Marcos a hero’s burial.

“By further ordering that Marcos be accorded military honors befitting a former head of state, Duterte is virtually deleting Marcos’ bloody record as a military despot and the fascist violence, human rights violation, corruption and economic hardships he made the Filipino people suffer through 14 years of dictatorship,” the CPP said.

Signature drive

In Rizal Park, the group Citizen’s Assembly Against Marcos Burial (CAAMB) said they would continue their protest actions by launching a signature campaign and bring the issue before the Supreme Court to stop what it called “grave injustice” to thousands of human rights victims.

A small protest was also staged by human rights victims outside Davao City, where candles and flowers were placed outside city hall, television reports said.

The protests were joined by Marcos-era victims of torture and imprisonment, as well as relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings, which historians say claimed thousands of lives.

Protesters in Manila shed tears during the three-hour protest and organizers launched a signature campaign to try to reverse Duterte’s decision.

University of the Philippines professor Ricardo Jose alleged that in order to win war medals for bravery, Marcos faked his service record in the resistance against Japanese imperial troops during World War II.

“There are World War II heroes buried there who sacrificed their lives... But here’s one guy who distorted things in his favor,” Jose told the rally.

Rody firm on burial

Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said that while Duterte allowed protests against the burial plan, he “remains firm” it will be carried out.

“The President has repeatedly said that he would allow any form of protest, like organizing mass actions against the FM (Marcos) burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. This is consistent with his philosophy that criticism, good or bad, true or not, is part of the territory of governance in public,” Andanar said.

Duterte, who flew back to Manila from Davao City yesterday, maintained his decision to accord Marcos a hero’s burial.

Duterte said those who are against the burial of Marcos could oppose and protest all they want.

He also shrugged off plans to hold a plebiscite on the issue, as suggested by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara.

Duterte said it would be a big waste of money if the burial issue would be subjected to a plebiscite. 

Angara said the issue of burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani had become divisive and suggested submitting this to a referendum.

If the Duterte administration decides to conduct a referendum, Angara said it could have it done alongside the barangay elections scheduled this October to save on costs.

Duterte had earlier insisted on his decision to fulfill his campaign promise of a hero’s burial for Marcos, on the basis that the late strongman was a former president and former 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. I am not dwelling on his exploits,” he added. – Alexis Romero, Rey Galupo, Edu Punay, Mayen Jaymalin, Artemio Dumlao, AP

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