BATAC City—For the Marcos children, they are sticking by a commitment they made 18 years ago: to bury their father, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos, as a hero at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“Nothing has really changed about our position since we returned home in 1993,” Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said in Filipino.
“We said our father deserved it being a soldier, who received many medals for fighting in the last war, and for being our longest running president, so he must be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
“But it’s not up to us. Malacañang has to tell us what it wants to do with our father’s remains,” he said.
Ilocos Norte laid out a full day of activities on Sunday to commemorate the 94th birthday of the late dictator, who died in Hawaii in 1989, three years after being deposed in a people’s uprising.
Governor Imee Marcos said Malacañang has not yet reacted to the recommendation made by Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was tasked by President Aquino to decide on the merits of burying Marcos as a hero.
Binay had announced here in August that talks with the Marcos family and a survey had convinced him that the late strongman should be buried in Ilocos Norte.
“The Marcos family has already agreed to have the burial in Ilocos Norte,” Binay said in the presence of Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Romualdez Marcos at last month’s launching program for local housing projects. But the Marcoses have disowned Binay’s assessment.
“Nothing has happened. There are press releases (on the Marcos burial) but we have not received anything official,” Bongbong said.
Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, who was a family guest during the celebration here, said he would lobby members of the Governors’ League of the Philippines to pursue a hero’s burial for Marcos.
Villafuerte and the Camarines Sur officials entered a sister province agreement with Ilocos Norte on Saturday to promote exchange programs on tourism, agriculture and technology, among other things, between the two provinces. “Camarines Sur owes a huge debt of gratitude to Ferdinand Marcos for the Maharlika Highway that now connects Bicol and Metro Manila,” Villafuerte told officials at the sisterhood signing ceremony.
Villafuerte, vice chair of the governors’ league, said he wanted to pass a resolution stipulating that Marcos’ only burial place should be the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Busloads of people from Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac and Rizal trooped here to see the former President. Imee decorated the room housing the glass casket bearing Marcos’ waxen remains with white roses. A small lit flame burned in an urn near the foot of the coffin.
The Marcos children said they have no knowledge as to how their father’s remains have been preserved. When asked, they said they “do not know the science” that kept the late dictator in a waxen state.
“Binay should let us bury him now. Our lives won’t be complete unless we bring him to Libingan ng mga Bayani,” said Elsa de los Reyes of Morong, Rizal, one of the more than 200 Marcos supporters who visited the mausoleum.
Marcos’ widow, Imelda, now Ilocos Norte representative, played a more dominant role earlier when the Marcos family went to Sta. Monica Church in Sarrat town where a Mass was dedicated to the late President.
She was received by a phalanx of black-shirted men and women who saluted her, while drums and a flute played in the background. In his homily, Fr. Weldy Butuan, the parish priest, spoke about the need for forgiveness.
“When we can’t forgive, it’s like we are prisoners. (The absence of forgiveness) is the chain of anger… Or a desire for revenge,” Butuan said.
“We must never refuse forgiveness,” Butuan said, citing the human reflex to seek punishment first before asking for an apology.
“Is Jesus telling us right now, ‘No more excuses?’” Butuan said.
Bongbong and Imee Marcos also attended the Mass, accompanied by members of the Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos, some of whom came in buses from as far as Tarlac.