DEFYING protesters, family and friends of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos gathered at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Monday to mark the centenary of the former president’s birth with a private Mass.
The gathering, which was off-limits to the media and the public, was “simple and private,” with the concelebrated Mass starting at 10:30 a.m. at the plot where Marcos’ remains were transferred on November 18, 2016 from Batac, Ilocos Norte, said Chief Supt. Tomas Apoliario Jr., head of the Southern Police District.
Like in last year’s burial, which was also closed to the public, Marcos’ eldest daughter, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, posted photos of the centennial rites on her Facebook account.
Former first lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, who represents Ilocos Norte in the House of Representatives, led the Marcoses, along with daughters Imee and Irene Marcos-Araneta, and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Seen in the photos released by Imee were former president Joseph Estrada, the mayor of Manila; former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile; former senator Francisco Tatad; former prime minister Cesar Virata; and former central bank governor Jaime Laya.
Singer Dulce was photographed in a song number.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared September 11 a holiday in Ilocos Norte, did not attend the rites.
Militant groups staged a short program several blocks away to protest the holding of the Marcos centennial rites at the Libingan.
Among the protesters were members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Sandugo (organization of Moro and indigenous peoples), and the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma).
Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmie de Jesus said in Filipino “the 100th birth centennial of the late President Marcos should not be celebrated at all inside the [Libingan] since he was not a hero.”
“The true hero was the people,” she stressed.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said: “Marcos committed crimes against the Filipino people like human rights violations, killing activities, and robbing the government of money, thus, he is not a hero.”
Apolinario said the rally, watched by 300 policemen and 500 soldiers, was peaceful. BlockMarcos, a separate anti-Marcos group, held a rally near the leftist groups.
Clara Cruz, member of BlockMarcos, said her group, composed of 13 members, wanted the Marcoses to return their ill-gotten wealth.
The government is said to have recovered $4 billion of the estimated at $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
Close to 2,000 Marcos loyalists were also present on Monday.
Members of the Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos group and the Marcos Loyalists Foundation Inc. said they attended the 100th birthday celebration to express their strong support for the Marcoses.
In Batac, local officials and close relatives and friends of the Marcoses led the wreath-laying and flag-raising ceremonies, held simultaneously throughout Ilocos Norte.
Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was born on September 11, 1917 in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte to Mariano Marcos and Josefa Edralin but grew up in Batac town, which became the hometown of the Marcoses.
He died in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989.
Last week, the centennial celebrations began with the two-day “Marcos 100 Forum: The North Remembers.”
On Sunday, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines turned over and unveiled the biographical marker of former strongman at the recently relocated “Daytoy ti Bannawag” monument in Batac.
The Alyansa ng mga Magsasaka in Ilocos Norte led by Antonio Puguiao opposed the celebrations in the province and at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
with LEANDER C. DOMINGO