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Hero or not, Marcos lies at Libingan

FINAL TRIBUTE. Military officers and the Marcos family give a final tribute to Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani. PHILIPPINE ARMY

FINAL TRIBUTE. Military officers and the Marcos family give a final tribute to Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani. PHILIPPINE ARMY

Ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday, in a secrecy-shrouded ceremony that stunned the nation and sparked protests from the opponents of martial law and survivors of his mailed-fist rule.

The burial of Marcos with military honors came as another stunning development in the remarkable political comeback of his family, a phenomenon that was given fresh energy this year by the clan’s strong alliance with the country’s new leader, President Rodrigo Duterte.

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It was Mr. Duterte who allowed the burial of Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery, a decision challenged in the Supreme Court by opponents of martial law and survivors of torture, who argued that an honorable burial for the dictator was “illegal and contrary to law, public policy, morals and justice.”

Opponents also cited Mr. Duterte’s political debt to the Marcos family, which supported his campaign for the presidency.

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Supreme Court decision

Last week, however, the Supreme Court voted 9-5 for Mr. Duterte, but gave the petitioners 15 days to appeal the decision.

Friday was only the 10th day since the ruling came down, but the nation was stunned when the Philippine National Police announced that the burial of Marcos at Libingan in Taguig City was going on.

The arrangements had been so secret that even officials at the Department of National Defense and in the Armed Forces of the Philippines were caught unaware by the news that the burial was in progress.

It was known, however, that the defense department issued a memorandum to the military in August to prepare for the burial of Marcos.

Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde, director of the National Capital Region Police Office, denied the PNP had conspired with the military to secretly bury Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery.

Albayalde told reporters that the dictator’s children, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, informed him of their plan to proceed with the burial at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

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He said the Marcoses requested that the burial be kept “private and confidential.”

It was not a state funeral, but the military would render honors as the dictator was being buried, he said.

The PNP chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, said he learned about the burial plan on Thursday.

He teased reporters for not learning about it earlier.

“Outwitted, weren’t you? I was as well. I learned about it only yesterday,” Dela Rosa said.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson for the AFP, said Marcos’ body, which had been preserved in a refrigerated crypt and kept in a mausoleum in his hometown, Batac, was flown by a military helicopter for burial at the AFP-run Libingan.

After landing at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Marcos’ body was taken by a black limousine to Libingan, where his coffin, draped with the Philippine flag, was put on a carriage and later carried by military pallbearers to the gravesite, Padilla said.

The Marcos family and about 100 supporters followed the coffin to the tomb.

An honor guard fired a 21-gun salute and sounded taps  during the ceremony, he said.

Two thousand riot police and soldiers guarded the perimeter of the cemetery, blocking entry by journalists and protesters who rushed there after the PNP confirmed that the burial was going on.

The highly secretive funeral shocked many democracy advocates and human rights victims who had planned protests across the country Friday to oppose the burial, but were surprised by the furtive move of the Marcoses.

Vice President Leni Robredo issued a statement saying the burial of Marcos at Libingan came “like a thief in the night.”

‘He is no hero’

“He is no hero. If he were, obviously his family would not have to hide his burial like a shameful criminal deed,” Robredo said.

Governor Marcos read a statement after the funeral, thanking Mr. Duterte for making the burial possible and appealing for public understanding of her family’s decision to bury the strongman on short notice and in secret rites.

“First of all, I would like to thank President Duterte who advocated for this, and this was affirmed [by the Supreme Court],” she said.

“I am asking for understanding for the decision of my family to bury my father in simple, private and solemn rites so as not to aggravate the pain of those who are hurting,” she said.

She thanked supporters of her father’s burial at Libingan and expressed satisfaction that “at last, the final wish of my father, former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, to be buried with his fellow soldiers has come true.”

Malacañang claimed it did not know that Marcos would be buried at Libingan on Friday.

In Lima, Peru, where Mr. Duterte had just arrived to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said he was not sure whether the President knew that Marcos was going to be buried at Libingan on Friday.

Abella read to reporters a statement for Mr. Duterte saying the decision to bury Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery on Friday was “a personal decision of the Marcos family.”

“We respect their choice of date for the interment,” the statement said.

It said Mr. Duterte expressed hope that “everybody would find a space in their hearts to forgive and to set free those who had hurt or injured them.” —WITH REPORTS FROM NIKKO DIZON, LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, DJ YAP, FRANCES MANGOSING, AP AND AFP

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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Marcos burial, Philippine politics, protests against Marcos burial, Rodrigo Duterte
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