Mar­cos fam­ily hold vigil at tomb amid protests

‘Fi­nally rest­ing here at the Heroes’ Ceme­tery’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Fam­ily mem­bers and fol­low­ers of Philip­pine dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos gath­ered Satur­day for a vigil at his tomb, a day af­ter his se­crecy-shrouded burial at the coun­try’s Heroes’ Ceme­tery trig­gered wide­spread protests three decades fol­low­ing the strong­man’s ouster.

Mar­cos’ widow Imelda, clad in black, thanked sup­port­ers and lo­cal of­fi­cials who trav­eled by bus from Mar­cos’ north­ern home prov­ince to pay their re­spects. She said they had given her fam­ily strength as they kept the hope for nearly 30 years to have him buried at the na­tional ceme­tery, which is re­served for for­mer pres­i­dents, na­tional artists and sol­diers.

Thou­sands of pro-democ­racy ac­tivists who ral­lied in Manila on Fri­day say the decades long de­bate over the ex-pres­i­dent’s final rest­ing place was far from over and they were plan­ning more protests in the days and weeks ahead.

Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte, who gave the goa­head for the burial, ap­pealed for calm. “I know Fer­di­nand will at last be at rest here at the Heroes’ Ceme­tery,” Imelda Mar­cos said in front of a black tomb sur­rounded by wreaths of white flow­ers. “But I know we still have a lot of crit­i­cisms to face.”

Her daugh­ter, Ilo­cos Norte Gov. Imee Mar­cos, and son Sen. Fer­di­nand “Bong­bong” Mar­cos Jr. also thanked sup­port­ers and apol­o­gized for keep­ing the burial se­cret. He said there were re­ports that anti-Mar­cos groups would cre­ate trou­ble.

The burial threat­ens to open old wounds in the Philip­pines, where Mar­cos is ac­cused of mas­sive hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and cor­rup­tion un­der mar­tial law he had placed the coun­try dur­ing half of his 20-year iron-fist rule. He was ousted in a “peo­ple power” street protests in 1986 that sent him and his fam­ily into ex­ile in Hawaii, where he died three years later.

Vice Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo, who ran in May elec­tions un­der Duterte’s ri­val party, ques­tioned why the burial was car­ried out even be­fore a Supreme Court de­ci­sion al­low­ing it has be­come final. “We are alarmed by the brazen­ness of its ex­e­cu­tion,” she said in a speech. “Hid­den wealth, hid­den hu­man rights abuses, and now a hid­den burial with com­plete dis­re­spect for the rule of law.” Boni­fa­cio Ila­gan, a left-wing ac­tivist who was de­tained and tor­tured dur­ing Mar­cos’ rule, said the dic­ta­tor was buried “like a thief in the night.” “This is so Mar­cos style. I want to rush to the ceme­tery to protest this. I feel so en­raged,” Ila­gan told The Associated Press on Fri­day.

A law­maker con­sid­ered ask­ing the Supreme Court to ex­hume the newly buried Mar­cos. But Duterte, who is at­tend­ing an Asia-Pa­cific sum­mit in Lima, Peru, said through his spokesman that “hope­fully both sides will ex­er­cise max­i­mum tol­er­ance and come to terms with the burial.” The pow­er­ful Mar­cos fam­ily has re­peat­edly de­nied any wrong­do­ing and af­ter re­turn­ing from US ex­ile in 1991, Imelda Mar­cos and two of her chil­dren even­tu­ally ran for pub­lic of­fice and won stun­ning po­lit­i­cal come­backs. Son, Fer­di­nand Jr., ran for vice pres­i­dent in May and lost by a slim mar­gin to Ro­bredo.

In 1993, Mar­cos’s body was taken to his home­town in Ilo­cos Norte, where it was dis­played in a glass cof­fin and be­came a tourist at­trac­tion. But his fam­ily fought for his re­mains to be trans­ferred to the Heroes’ Ceme­tery.

Duterte backed Mar­cos’s burial, say­ing it was his right as a pres­i­dent and sol­dier.—AP

—AP

TAGUIG CITY, East of Manila, Philip­pines: In this photo pro­vided by Jun Gu­doy from the Of­fice of Ilo­cos Norte Gov­er­nor Imee Mar­cos, led by wife Imelda Mar­cos, in black, the late dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos’ fam­ily fol­lows the flag-draped cas­ket dur­ing a cer­e­mony of his burial at the Heroes’ Ceme­tery on Fri­day.

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