President-elect Rodrigo Duterte stood by his decision to allow the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as he also defended the children of the former strongman.
Speaking to reporters in Davao City early Thursday, Duterte said he accepted “full moral and legal responsibility” for his decision even as it “created division in the country.”
“It is my sole decision,” he stressed, adding that nothing will make him change his mind on the matter.
“Alam mo kapag nagbitaw ako ng salita, ‘yun na ‘yun. Magpakamatay na ako diyan [If I have already uttered the word, that’s it. I will stake my life on it,” Duterte said.
“I will do things that I promised to do. I will not die if I do not become the President. I will stake my honor, my life, and the presidency itself. Bantayan niyo ang salita ko [Pay attention to my words],” he added.
Martial law victims have warned that giving Marcos a hero’s burial would whitewash the strongman’s crimes and trigger street protests.
But Duterte insisted that Marcos deserved a place at heroes’ cemetery since the former president was part of the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation in 1940s.
“Sabi nyo si Marcos hindi dapat dyan ilibing [You said that Marcos should not be buried there]. That is on the question of his abuses. It is something that is attached to his persona forever. Marcos might not really be a hero, I accept that proposition, maybe. But certainly, he was a soldier,” the mayor said.
“Anong gusto niyo? [What do you want?] The guy is already dead. You want the cadaver to be burned? Would that satisfy your rage?” he added.
Duterte also believes that Marcos’ children should not be made to suffer for their father’s actions.
“The sins of the father, if there are any, should never be visited upon the children,” he said.
Marcos and his wife Imelda were accused of plundering $10 billion from state coffers and overseeing widespread human rights abuses by security forces.
Imelda and her children returned to power while fending off a barrage of lawsuits and criminal probes.
Imelda is a congresswoman representing the family’s northern provincial stronghold, while Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected to the Senate in 2010.
Marcos ran for vice president in this month’s elections against Rep. Leni Robredo but the winner is yet to be proclaimed.
In a statement, Marcos’ only son and namesake noted that it has always been the position of his family that his father deserves to be buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
The body of the late leader, who died in exile in the US in 1989, remains in a glass coffin in a mausoleum in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.
“Our campaign has always been toward achieving unity to move the country forward. And it is this kind of pronouncement that we hope could end the decades of divisiveness that have been imposed upon us by our leaders,” Marcos said.
“We would like to thank President Duterte for this kind, rightful and healing gesture,” he added.