PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has declared September 11 as a special non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to mark the 100th birthday of former president Ferdinand Marcos.
Duterte signed Proclamation 310 making Marcos’ birth anniversary a holiday in Ilocos Norte, the home province of the late president.
“The Ilocano community has been annually celebrating the birthdate of the late Ferdinand E. Marcos, and commemorating his life and contributions to national development as a World War II veteran, distinguished legislator, and former president,” Duterte said in his order.
“It is but fitting and proper that the people of the Province of Ilocos Norte be given full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies,” he added.
The late strongman died in exile in Hawaii on Sept. 28, 1989, after he was ousted by a peaceful people power revolution in 1986.
Duterte is close to the Marcoses, and allowed the late strongman to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani in 2016 amid protests.
The President has also said that Marcos’s son, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., could become the country’s next vice president.
On Tuesday, Duterte revealed that the Marcos family had indicated willingness to return a still-unspecified amount of money and “a few gold bars.”
The President claimed a family spokesman had relayed to him the intention of the Marcoses.
But Duterte told reporters that the Marcoses “will not agree to return (the money if) you have them jailed.”
“So, I said they [lawmakers]have to craft a law on that and that is immunity. If I were a Marcos, why would I return the (money) if you’re going to have me jailed? I’d rather reserve it (for) my children and grandchildren,” Duterte said.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has recovered at least P170 billion from the Marcoses and their cronies, including secret Swiss bank deposits, shares of stock, real estate, art pieces and jewelry.
The PCGG estimates the Marcoses stashed between $5 billion and $10 billion during Marcos’ 20-year rule. CATHERINE S. VALENTE