Marcoses seek private 100th birthday party for FM at Libingan

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The Marcos family has requested permission to celebrate privately the late president Ferdinand Marcos’ 100th birth anniversary on Monday at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig City, where his remains lie, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs chief, said any security preparations for the private event will have to be discussed by the Philippine Army, the physical custodian of the cemetery.

The late strongman, who declared Martial Law in the Philippines in the early ‘70s amid a looming communist insurgency, was toppled in a people-power revolt in 1986. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, returned to the Philippines, and was buried in November last year amid a long drawn-out controversy over whether he deserved to be laid to rest in the company of heroes.

Along with their request to be allowed to hold a private celebration at the Libingan, the Marcoses also prefer to keep the media out during the event.

“This means that we actually have requests from [media companies]to set up cameras to cover the event, but this was declined by the [Marcos] family because they would rather have a private event,” Arevalo told reporters in a news briefing.

The family has sent out invitations to a select group of key government officials and foreign dignitaries for the centennial celebration of the ousted president’s birthday on September 11, sources said.

However, Arevalo said such would “entirely be the prerogative” of the former first family and any security requirement will have to be provided by the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as well.

Aside from the army, the Department of National Defense and the AFP Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservists and Retirees Affairs (J9) also have authority over what goes on inside the cemetery premises, Arevalo said.

Some groups who oppose the burial of the former strongman at the Libingan have again set protest actions this year. Arevalo did not give details of the security preparations by the Philippine Army.

“What we can be sure of is that we are taking all these into account and we will be taking on necessary precautions, laying out procedures for [the protests],” he said.

“Definitely, it is not the AFP who will take this as a primary concern but the PNP (national police) especially in the exercise of the people’s freedom of expression,” Arevalo added.

In November last year, President Rodrigo Duterte explained that Marcos was buried at the Libingan because he was a soldier and a former president of the Philippines. Marcos’ burial was also upheld by the Supreme Court in a 9-5 vote.

In August, the high tribunal also junked the pleas of former Bayan Muna party-list Satur Ocampo and Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay to exhume Marcos’ remains for “lack of merit” and has allowed the finality of its burial at the heroes’ cemetery.

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