Protests as Philippine dictator Marcos given hero’s burial
MANILA: Ex-Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried in a secretive ceremony at the national heroes’ cemetery yesterday, triggering street protests as opponents denounced what they said was the whitewashing of his brutal and corrupt rule. The burial at the “Cemetery of Heroes” was another stunning development in the remarkable political comeback of the Marcos family, a phenomenon given fresh energy by the clan’s strong alliance with new President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Supreme Court last week endorsed a decision by Duterte to lay the dictator to rest at the heroes’ cemetery, three decades after millions of people took to streets in the famous “People Power” revolution that ended Marcos’s reign.
The Marcos family and government moved quickly after the verdict, secretly flying the embalmed body to the cemetery on Friday and interring him despite appeals still pending with the Supreme Court urging it to reconsider. “Like a thief in the night, the Marcos family deliberately hid the information of burying former president Marcos today from the Filipino people,” said Vice President Leni Robredo, who was elected separately to Duterte and belongs to another party.
“This is nothing new to the Marcoses-they who had hidden wealth, hidden human rights abuses, and now, a hidden burial-with complete disregard for the law.” His wheelchairbound wife Imelda, 87, and their children and grandchildren followed a horse-drawn carriage with military escort that bore his Philippine flag-draped casket, footage released by the family on Facebook showed. The military honored Marcos at the ceremony with a 21-gun salute as soldiers in parade dress and ceremonial rifles stood to attention. “At last our beloved father Ferdinand Edralin Marcos’s final instruction to be buried alongside his fellow soldiers was carried out today,” daughter Imee Marcos told reporters afterwards.
Two thousand riot police and soldiers guarded the perimeter of the cemetery during the ceremony, blocking entry by journalists. Marcos opponents taken by surprise by the burial quickly organised a series of rallies across the Philippine capital of Manila on Friday afternoon that attracted thousands of people. In one of the biggest at the University of the Philippines, protesters banged on drums and chanted “Marcos thief”, “Marcos dictator” and “exhume, exhume”. Organizers said various rallies would merge at a roadside monument commemorating the “People Power” revolution. Marcos, his wife and their cronies plundered up to $10 billion from state coffers and plunged the Philippines into crippling debt 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.
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International in 2004 named Marcos the second most corrupt leader of all time, behind Indonesian dictator Suharto. Political resurrection After Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989, his family was allowed to return and began its political resurrection. Imelda became a congresswoman and fended off all corruption charges against her. Imee and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jnr also became influential politicians.
MANILA: This handout photo taken on November 18, 2016 and released by the office of Governor Imee Marcos shows military personnel carrying the coffin of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, while members of the Marcos family led by former first lady Imelda (in black) follow the procession during the burial at the heroes’ cemetery.—AFP