TWENTY seven years after he died, former Philippine President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos was finally buried with military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (National Heroes Cemetery) albeit without any other elaborate ceremony or public and media presence due security concerns.
Marcos’s eldest daughter, Ilocos Norte province Governor Imee Marcos, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for allowing her father, also a former soldier during World War II with the rank of major, to be laid to rest with soldiers.
“At last, my beloved father’s last will to be buried with fellow soldiers was fulfilled today,” she said. She also asked people to understand the family’s decision to keep the ceremony “simple, private and solemn.”
Duterte was not present during the burial since he is in Lima, Peru attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. His controversial decision to allow the Marcos’ burial at the LnmB did not go unopposed. The opposition was so intense that it took a contentious decision of the Supreme Court to remove any legal obstacle on Marcos’ burial at the LnmB.
“I was just being legally strict about it…President Marcos was a president for so long and he was a soldier. So, that’s about it. Whether or not he performed worse or better, there is no study, there is no movie about it. It’s just the challenges and allegations of the other side which is not enough,” Duterte said in Lima, defending his decision to allow the burial.
Marcos’s near surreptitious burial Friday noon caught many by surprise although some groups were able to stage lightning protests in different parts of Metro Manila.
Vice President Leni Robredo, reacting to Marcos’ secretive burial, likened the ceremony to “a thief in the night”.
“This is nothing new to the Marcoses – they who had hidden wealth, hidden human rights abuses and now hidden burial – with complete disrespect for the rule of law,” Robredo, who belongs to an anti-Marcos political party, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros has this to say about the burial “hanggang dulo, nangnanakaw si Marcos. Ang kanyang pekeng hero’s burial ay isang nakaw na sandali.”
Sen. Francisco Pangilinan, on the other hand, is not sure if Marcos would stay buried at the LnmB.
“Malilibing siya (Marcos) pero hindi ibig sabihin na mananatili siyang nakalibing dun…”
A group of workers, at the same time, also voiced their protest.
“There was a secret deal to make this travesty happen. The Supreme Court decision simply rendered this political deal a legal character” says Partido Manggagawa in a statement.
“Today’s secret burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) is a done deal. It was a shared triumph resulting from a highly coordinated action between the Marcos family and the Duterte government. We condemn this act as a mockery of justice and an affront to the principles civility. Why bury a ‘hero’, their ‘honorable’ leader, sneakily away from national curiosity? Hence, it rather looks like a burial for a high level terrorist rather than one with state honors,” PM added.
Furthermore, it said “the secret burial did not only deny the victims of martial law the chance to reverse the verdict against their tormentor. It also reduced the peoples’ genuine quest for justice a trivial chasing game of chance under the present administration.”
Marcos became president in 1965. He declared martial law in 1972 and ruled the country until 1986, when he was ousted. During his time, he, his family and cronies amassed an estimated US $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth, a commission found. Tens of thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were reportedly killed.Marcos died in exile in Hawaii, three years after he was ousted from office.
The Marcos family returned to the Philippines in the 1990s and became powerful politicians representing his home province of Ilocos Norte.