MANILA – Senator Francis Pangilinan has issued strong words opposing President Rodrigo Duterte's move to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Duterte has shrugged off criticisms over his decision and has not been shy to express his admiration for the late strongman.
Duterte rejects criticism of hero’s burial for Marcos
But Pangilinan said allowing Marcos' burial at the cemetery sends a wrong message to the Filipinos, especially the youth.
''Burying a murderer and a thief in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not moving on, it is teaching our children to honor murderers and plunderers,'' Pangilinan said in a statement.
''It is not going to heal the nation nor will it unite us, it will only deeply divide us, reopen deep wounds of those who suffered, causing them to relive the gnawing pain and memory of loved ones jailed, tortured, murdered, salvaged or who disappeared because of the tyranny and oppression of the dictatorship."
Marcos was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986, ending his two-decade grip on power. He died in exile in 1989 and his remains were brought back in the Philippines in 1993. His remains have since been enclosed in a glass casket in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.
Meanwhile, Senator Franklin Drilon urged the president to reconsider his decision.
''At this point in the history of our country where Filipinos are starting to hope again, what our nation need is unity in order for our country to succeed socially, economically and politically. Hence, such a sensitive issue would not help but only divide our people and reopen wounds of the past that up to now, were not completely healed,'' he said.
Senator Leila de Lima was earlier quoted in a radio interview that martial law victims could file a class suit against the burial.
Pangilinan, Drilon, and De Lima are all members of the once powerful Liberal Party, which counts former President Benigno Aquino III as one of its most influential members.
The Aquino family is the political archnemesis of the Marcoses. It was under the Marcos dictatorship that the family's patriarch, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was assassinated.