During his campaign, President Rodrigo Duterte promised the Marcoses in Ilocos Norte in February that he will allow the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Manila. He justified his decision by saying that “he was a great president and he was a hero.”
On early Sunday morning, August 7, while visiting the wake for the soldiers killed in an encounter with communists, Duterte gave the go-ahead for the Marcos’s hero’s burial.
He defended his decision once more by saying that the strongman was a former president and a soldier, which he deemed as enough qualifications for him to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“As a matter of fact, I voted for him during his first term,” Duterte said.
Duterte also said he’d allow those who oppose his decision to stage protests.
“He is qualified to be buried there. Kung ayaw ng ibang Pilipino, fine (If other Filipinos don’t want this, fine). Mag-demonstrate kayo, go ahead (You can demonstrate, go ahead). You can use the streets, one month,” Duterte added.
Duterte said that it is up to the Marcoses when they would like to set the late dictator’s burial.
“If Bongbong (Marcos) feels that it would be a fitting day to celebrate his birthday in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, so be it. It is their right, because nag-go signal na ako [because I gave the go signal].”
Preparations for Marcos’ burial underway
The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a memorandum from the Department of National Defense, dated August 7, to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya.
The Inquirer also wrote that Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said the Marcoses’ representative have visited the cemetery in suburban Taguig City to choose a burial site for the former president and start the preparations.
Philippine Star reported that Bongbong Marcos revealed on August 5 that his father will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on September 18 and that the family has started preparing for the interment ceremony, including the military honors.
“My sister Imee is taking care of the rites in Ilocos because Ilocanos would get angry at us if they would not be able to pay their last respects to him. We’ll bring him first to Sarrat, then to Paoay, before taking him by plane for the burial at Libingan,” The Star quoted Marcos.
He added that they have been coordinating with the AFP and were taught about the protocol for a hero’s burial – military honors (a 21-gun salute), horse-ridden funeral cortege, and burying the remains at noon.
Asked why they chose September 18, Marcos said, “Because we want another day to celebrate, and not only on his birth or death anniversary.”
Most of the 40,000 people buried at the cemetery are soldiers, but military rules do not allow soldiers who have been honorably discharged from service and those who have been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, as what AFP has explained in this Rappler article about the guidelines of who can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The Inquirer also noted how in 1995, the US district court of Hawaii awarded over $2 billion to around 10,000 victims of human rights abuses, including their surviving relatives who filed a class suit against the Marcos estate.
It is also worth noting that one of Duterte’s major campaign promises was to fight crime and corruption, yet this did not seem to stop him from supporting the late dictator and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was recently released from hospital detention after being cleared of her corruption charge, although she might face a new graft charge.