MANILA – Filipinos should accept President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to allow a hero's burial for the late Ferdinand Marcos, as this was part of the package when the Davao mayor was voted into the presidency, a Malacanang official said.
Presidential legal counsel Salvador "Sal" Panelo said Filipinos have heard of Duterte's promise to let Marcos be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"We Filipinos as voters heard that and accepted that, and we gave him the mandate. Therefore I think, especially those who voted for him, have no right to question him now, having given him the authority to do that," Presidential legal counsel Salvador "Sal" Panelo told the media Wednesday.
Marcos was a president, and a soldier, and that is all that mattered in the chief executive's decision to allow the former dictator's remains to be laid to rest at the heroes' hallowed grounds in Taguig, Panelo said.
"The Armed Forces regulation is very clear. Soldiers as well as presidents are privileged to be interred there," Panelo said.
While Panelo acknowledged doubts on the authenticity of Marcos' war medals during the Second World War, the rule does not say that a person could not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani if his war medals are fake.
"The regulation does not distinguish if you are a president or a soldier, or a good one or a bad one. There is no question that this president is entitled to be interred," he added.
The late strongman is set to be buried with full honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on September 18.
The ceremony has been received with mixed feelings by Filipinos. While Marcos supporters rejoiced at what they feel is a long-delayed privilege, his detractors, mostly victims of human rights violations during Martial Law, vowed to seek Supreme Court’s help in preventing what they feel is an ill-deserved honor.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart on Tuesday, former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said the Marcos family already waived their rights to to a hero's burial when his body was returned to the Philippines during the 90s.
"The Marcoses agreed to three conditions: one, pagdating dito, walang fanfare, diretso agad sa Ilocos. Second, ililibing sa Ilocos. Third, kung may honors man siya up to the rank of Major, doon sa Ilocos [ibibigay]," he said, emphasizing that the former first family still had not given the country "closure" for what happened during martial rule.
"Pwede mo bang ilibing just because of the guidelines kahit may batas na nagsasabing he committed human rights violations?," Colmenares had said.