Protests as Philip­pine dic­ta­tor Mar­cos given hero’s burial

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

‘Mar­cos thief’

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

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