Regardless of how some Filipinos judge the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ regime, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that the former President and soldier deserves a hero’s burial.
Duterte made the statement as the Marcos family began preparations for the burial, reportedly set on Sept. 18, at the Libingan ng ga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig.
In Davao City early Sunday, Duterte admitted that the move would not sit well with some people who don’t believe Marcos deserves to be treated as a hero, but the President said the former strongman was entitled to the honor.
“If other Filipinos oppose it, fine. Hold demonstrations, go ahead. You can use the streets for a month,” he said.
Marcos’ remains have been kept in a refrigerated crypt in his home province of Ilocos Norte since the family’s return from exile in Hawaii in the early 1990s.
A burial for Marcos on his 99th birth anniversary on September 11 would be “okay” for Duterte.
“If that’s what the family wants, so be it,” the President said.
Duterte first promised to give Marcos a hero’s burial in February while campaigning in Ilocos Norte. Duterte won Ilocos Norte, getting more than 100,000 votes during the May 9 polls.
Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., thanked President Duterte.
“We are deeply grateful to President Rody Duterte for allowing the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani this September,” Marcos said in a Facebook post.
On Twitter, he said: “On behalf of my family, we thank the President for the kind & healing gesture.”
In anticipation of a formal order from the President, the Marcos family has begun preparations for the burial, said Col. Benjamin Hao, Army spokesman,
The Libingan ng mga Bayani is a property of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Army is the unit tasked to manage the operations and maintenance of the military cemetery.
“A representative of the Marcos family went to the site,” Hao said. “Actually they were on the site and they already covered their preferred site. But there is no directive yet,” he added.
The visit was in coordination with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, the administrator of National Shrines including the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Marcos Jr. said Duterte’s pronouncement could end decades of division over the Marcos regime.
But two Liberal Party senators on Sunday disagreed and said the Marcos burial at the Libingan would cause further division.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said this would “reopen the wounds of the past that up to now, were not completely healed.”
Senator Francis Pangilinan said the decision of the President would teach children to “honor murderers and plunderers.”
“Burying a murderer and a thief in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not moving on…It is not going to heal the nation nor will it unite us…it will only deeply divide us,” Pangilinan posted on his Facebook page.