President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he is only following the law by allowing the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which has been set on September 18.
Duterte, on the sidelines of his meeting with Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz in Davao city, said Marcos was a former president and soldier, even if he was not a hero.
"The law is there existing. You read it a thousand times and you still arrive at a conclusion that he is qualified. Even if he is not a hero, he was a soldier," he said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) guidelines allow former soldiers to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Senator Grace Poe, a rival of Duterte in the presidential race, however, said Thursday morning that a new law recognizing human rights victims during the Marcos regime is in conflict with the military's guidelines.
"We have Republic Act 10368, recognizing the human rights victims during the time of Martial Law, and I think that it is a more current law than the [old] law that was created identifying that anybody who's a soldier, or anybody who became a president can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani," Poe said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.
Republic Act 10368, which provides reparation and recognition of victims of human rights violations during the administration of Marcos, was passed on 2013, and Poe believes it supersedes the AFP guidelines which Duterte cited.
"Just looking at that, this is a more recent law, so I think, I really believe that if we are to take this law seriously, having that burial there will be in conflict with that law," Poe added.
READ: Poe: Hero's burial for Marcos in conflict with new law
Marcos was also accused of faking his accounts as a soldier, according to US Army records.
The US Army also said that faking claims of heroism during World War 2 is a criminal act.
Marcos claimed that his guerilla unit, "Ang Maharlika," was formed during the infamous Death March.
The claim was submitted to authorities in the United States in his bid to justify his supposed heroic deeds.
He claimed his unit burned down three Japanese ships, an operation where he allegedly sustained a hip injury.
However, Marcos failed to make his case before the US Army.
In his autobiography, Marcos also bragged that his Distinguished Service Cross was pinned to his chest by Gen. Douglas Douglas MacArthur himself.
War historian Ricardo Jose, director of the UP Third World Studies Center, said Marcos' "Ang Maharlika" unit was fake, based on an investigation by US Army.
The findings on Marcos are now included in the U.S. National Archives.
"Their conclusion was that these claims weren't true. He appealed seven times, and was denied each time," Jose said.
US Army: Marcos, nag-imbento lang ng pekeng kuwento
Duterte on Thursday night, however, said the Philippine government should ignore the US Army's findings.
"He did not receive the medal? Correct. Well, that is the record of another country. Why would I [rely] in making a decision [referring] to the records of another country?" he said.
"We have long ceased to be the vassal state of the United States," Duterte said. "Tapos na iyan. It's history."
"Sana ginawa nila [Cory/Noynoy Aquino administration] ng batas na Marcos, because of his historic despotic regime, if that is what they want to tell us, should not be buried sa Libingan ng mga Bayani," he said. "Until unless they repeal that law [AFP guidelines], he can be buried there."
"I am a President and I have sworn my duty to follow the law," Duterte said. - with report from Ces Orena-Drilon, ABS-CBN News; ANC