President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda with US President Lyndon Johnson in Manila in 1966. Source: Wikimedia
Philippine Senator Franklin Drilon has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his decision to allow the legendarily corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the heroes’ cemetery in Taguig.
Duterte has given the go-ahead for the Marcos family to move his remains on September 18.
Liberal critics of the move say it is inappropriate to provide an honourable burial to a man blamed for thousands of killings, tortures and abductions, many of which are still unresolved.
Marcos’s embalmed body is on display in his home city of Batac.
“At this point in the history of our country where Filipinos are starting to hope again, what our nation need is unity in order for our country to succeed socially, economically and politically,” the senator said.
“Hence, such a sensitive issue would not help but only divide our people and reopen the wounds of the past that up to now, were not completely healed.”
Duterte said Marcos was an ex-president and soldier, making him qualified to be buried there, and people could protest if they wanted to oppose the decision.
“I can grant you permit for one month, you can protest all you want, just name the place, Luneta or Quiapo or wherever you want,” Duterte announced.
Deputy speakers in the House of Representatives said Marcos could be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the national pantheon.
Representative Mercedes Alvarez said: “The only qualification for this law so that one can be buried in a national pantheon is actually for one to be a president. There’s no other disqualification stated.”
The law did not state that a president may be disqualified from being granted a hero’s burial due to his record of human rights violations and corruption, lower house member Fredenil Castro said.
Castro said the lies that Marcos told about his fake war medals also did not disqualify him.
While the armed forces make up most of the 40,000 bodies in the cemetery, correspondents say that military rules prohibit those who have been dishonourably discharged.
Marcos and his wife Imelda ruled the Philippines for 20 years before 1986 protests of more than a million people took to the streets to overthrow them.