Duterte: Is Marcos a hero? It depends

VERBAL VARIETY - Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Duterte: Is Marcos a hero? It depends
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during a pre-departure ceremony held in Davao International Airport on September 5.
PPD / Kiwi Bulaclac, file

MANILA, Philippines – After the Supreme Court ruled to allow the burial of late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said whether or not the ousted dictator is a hero depends on the beholder.

“His being a hero? Well it depends on the beholder,” Duterte said during the press briefing before his departure for Thailand and Malaysia visits.

Duterte said Marcos' alleged sins during the Martial Law period, which have been documented and included in history books, have yet to be proven by a court. He added that allegations on ill-gotten wealth are also a different case.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government reported in 2016 that it had recovered P170 billion in ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses and the late president's cronies.

“It has to have history kasi ho yung nasaktan (Martial law victims), it was a contention really of a political fight initially then turned sour because of the power struggle of the ruling political families in this country. It almost deteriorated into something almost like revolution— that part of the sins of Marcos has yet to be proven by a competent court,” Duterte said.

Marcos was ousted after decades as president when millions of Filipinos gathered on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in February 1986 in what has since been called the People Power Revolution. 

Duterte said that what happened during Marcos' New Society cannot be judged because, he said, there are various versions of stories during the Marcos regime. He said others write about those who were jailed while others also mentioned great things that happened during the late president’s term like discipline and cleanliness.

The president, however, said Marcos “lost control of the governmental machinery for being sick.”

Under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which mandates reparations for Martial Law victims, the state is bound to "recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos."

He also said that for Ilocanos, or Filipinos in and from the Ilocos Region, Marcos did not commit any sins.

“I am not promoting any class struggle here but all the Ilocanos are downhearted by the decision for so long that Marcos be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, halos lahat…Buong Ilocano nation they are sad, para sa kanila walang kasalanan si Marcos,” he said.

Asked about his opinion regarding the SC’s ruling, Duterte said he would also allow the burial because he is bound by laws allowing soldiers and former presidents to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He said he already gave the Marcos family the choice on whether they will bury him at the national heroes’ cemetery for he will not take back his word.

“As far as the right or the privilege to be buried sa Libingan ng Mga Bayani, I simply follow the law. Wala tayong magagawa diyan… Let it go by the laws,” the president said.

“I do not have the sole power of the changing fortunes of this country,” Duterte, who made the Marcos burial a campaign promise, said.

RELATED: Supreme Court allows Libingan burial for Marcos

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