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‘Marcos has finally gotten his dying wish’

/ 01:10 AM November 09, 2016
Ferdinand-Marcos-frozen remains -- AFP--Ted Aljibe

Former first lady Imelda Marcos kisses the glass case that contains the frozen remains of former dictator and president Ferdinand Marcos on July 2, 2014. AFP FILE PHOTO

BATAC CITY—It was calm in this city where the remains of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos have been kept since 1993, a stark contrast to the drama that unfolded at the Supreme Court on Tuesday when it allowed his burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

“He has finally gotten his dying wish,” said former presidential guard Marcelino Bactat, who, at 68, serves as head of security of the Marcos museum here.

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Batac, 472 kilometers north of Metro Manila and 18 km south of the Ilocos Norte capital of Laoag City, is Marcos’ maternal hometown. His body has been kept at a mausoleum in the Marcos ancestral home in Batac that has become a popular tourist spot.

At least 1,000 tourists arrive here on weekdays, and 2,000 more on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Except for the tourists, there was no rally or special gathering in the city on Tuesday.

Batac Mayor Albert Chua said the city residents were happy because their prayers had been answered.

But Chua said he had yet to coordinate with the provincial government as to how to proceed after the burial at Libingan was allowed by the Supreme Court.

Sarrat rites

Following the directives of President Duterte, the Marcos family scheduled necrological programs in Sarrat town, where Marcos was born and in Paoay town before the strongman’s remains were to be flown to Manila on Sept. 17.

Marcos was supposed to have been taken in a casket to  Sta. Monica Parish Church in Sarrat for a prayer vigil and then moved to St. Augustine Church in Paoay town.

But these plans were scuttled when the Supreme Court issued a status quo order to address petitions filed by martial law victims and civil society groups questioning a hero’s burial for Marcos.

On Monday night, residents of Laoag City lit candles arranged to form the phrase “#ilibingna” outside the provincial capitol.

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Along Apolinario Castro Street in front of Ferdinand E. Marcos Memorial Stadium on the same night, students and members of the Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (Sika) also put up candles.

“This is our simple gesture to be one in spirit with those who are now praying for a positive decision for our ‘Apo Lakay’ to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani,” Sika president James Ceasar Ventura said on Monday night.

“I hope that this [decision allowing the burial] would be the start of the healing of our nation because of the divisiveness that this issue had created,” Chua said.

Last chance

As he welcomed visitors to the mausoleum, Bactat told them: “This is your last chance to see him. He will soon be buried.”

Bactat later admitted that he was saddened by the news, saying that it would also be his last time to be with the late President.

Bactat joined the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) in 1969 and was assigned to what was then the Presidential Guard Battalion that protected Marcos and his family.

In 1986 when the Marcos family fled to Hawaii after the Edsa People Power Revolution, Bactat was assigned to different PC units until 1990 when he opted to retire at age 41.

Marcos died while in exile in Hawaii in September 1989. His body has been kept at the temperature-controlled mausoleum since its return in 1993.

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TAGS: Duterte Administration, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Marcos burial, Philippine news updates, Supreme Court
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