Philip­pines’ dic­ta­tor Mar­cos ‘can be given a hero’s burial’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ex-Philip­pine dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos can be given a hero’s burial, the Supreme Court de­cided yes­ter­day in a hugely con­tro­ver­sial rul­ing which crit­ics said would white­wash his crimes and di­vide the na­tion. The jus­tices over­whelm­ingly en­dorsed Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s de­ci­sion to al­low the burial at the “Ceme­tery of He­roes” in Manila, three decades af­ter a fa­mous “Peo­ple Power” re­volt forced Mar­cos into US ex­ile and re­stored democ­racy.

“There is no law that pro­hibits the burial,” court spokesman Theodore Te said as he read a sum­mary of the judg­ment. Hun­dreds of Mar­cos sup­port­ers out­side the Supreme Court cheered. But op­po­nents who had pe­ti­tioned the court to re­ject the plan staged a rally nearby and voiced deep anger. “It’s re­ally sad be­cause the de­ci­sion makes liars out of hu­man rights vic­tims,” Neri Colmenares, who as a stu­dent leader was tor­tured by Mar­cos’ security forces dur­ing mar­tial law said out­side the court.

“If the tor­turer is a hero, what does that make of the vic­tims? What does that make of the mil­lions who over­threw a dic­ta­tor? It is a hor­ri­ble and tragic end­ing to one of the most tragic chap­ters of our his­tory. His­tory was al­tered to­day.” Mar­cos ruled the Philip­pines for two decades un­til key mil­i­tary fig­ures turned on him and mil­lions took to the streets in the “Peo­ple Power” up­ris­ing, a largely peace­ful event that in­spired democ­racy move­ments through­out Asia and around the world.

Mar­cos, his in­fa­mously flam­boy­ant wife Imelda, and their cronies plun­dered up to $10 bil­lion from state cof­fers dur­ing his rule, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors and his­to­ri­ans. The dic­ta­tor also over­saw wide­spread hu­man rights abuses to main­tain his con­trol of the coun­try and en­able his plun­der­ing, with thou­sands of peo­ple killed and tor­tured, pre­vi­ous Philip­pine gov­ern­ments said. An­ti­cor­rup­tion watch­dog Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional in 2004 named Mar­cos the sec­ond most cor­rupt leader of all time, be­hind In­done­sian dic­ta­tor Suharto. The Philip­pines’ for­eign debt went from $2.67 bil­lion in 1972, when Mar­cos de­clared mar­tial law, to $28.2 bil­lion in 1986, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank.

Af­ter Mar­cos died in Hawaii in 1989, his fam­ily be­gan a suc­cess­ful po­lit­i­cal come­back and tried re­peat­edly to have him buried at the he­roes’ ceme­tery, where other pres­i­dents and cel­e­brated mil­i­tary fig­ures are in­terred. Imelda be­came a con­gress­woman and fended off all cor­rup­tion charges against her. Two of her chil­dren es­tab­lished them­selves as in­flu­en­tial politi­cians. Fer­di­nand “Bong­bong” Mar­cos Jnr, was the more suc­cess­ful, be­com­ing a se­na­tor be­fore al­most win­ning the vice pres­i­dency this year.

How­ever pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents had re­fused to al­low the burial in the he­roes’ ceme­tery be­cause of Mar­cos’s crimes, so the fam­ily kept the pre­served body in a glass cas­ket at his home in the north­ern province of Ilo­cos Norte. The fam­ily’s for­tunes changed with the elec­tion of Duterte, a long­time ally of the Mar­cos fam­ily, as pres­i­dent in May this year. He said Mar­cos de­served to be buried at the he­roes’ ceme­tery based on the fact he had been a pres­i­dent and a vet­eran of World War II.

Duterte also said he owed loy­alty to the fam­ily be­cause his fa­ther served in the Mar­cos gov­ern­ment and the fam­ily had helped fund his elec­tion cam­paign. Im­me­di­ately cel­e­brat­ing the ver­dict, Bong­bong Mar­cos said the na­tion of 100 mil­lion peo­ple would now be able to put past con­tro­ver­sies be­hind it. “It is in our be­lief a very im­por­tant step for the heal­ing process in the po­lit­i­cal arena of our coun­try,” Mar­cos told CNN Philip­pines. “I think this will be the be­gin­ning of bring­ing the coun­try to­gether and unit­ing the coun­try.” — AFP

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