MANILA - Tensions ran high as supporters and critics of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos faced off outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, amid oral arguments on the strongman's burial at the Heroes' Cemetery.
Clad in red and white, about 500 Marcos loyalists at the SC compound in Padre Faura, Manila insisted that interring the former president's remains at Libingan ng mga Bayani will forge national unity and peace.
They also urged the public to "be Christian" and forgive Marcos for the alleged corruption and human rights abuses under his Martial Law regime.
But the smaller group of Marcos critics, numbering around 100, vehemently lampooned the other camp's arguments, stressing that Marcos is "not a hero" and "has no honor."
Waving placards, Militant groups Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Gabriela and the Coalition against Marcos Burial also repeatedly chanted "Marcos, Hitler, diktador, tuta."
Personnel of the Manila Police District (MPD) mediated between the opposing camps.
MPD station 5 chief, Superintendent Albert Barot, said the situation remained under control until the anti-burial protesters left at around 11:15 a.m.
Marcos supporters stayed at the area to listen to a live audio stream of the oral arguments.
Listen: SC oral arguments on hero's burial for Marcos
Petitioners against the burial, including human rights victims, have argued that the interment would condone the abuses under Marcos' tumultuous two-decade-long rule.
It would also violate terms of a 1993 agreement, which paved the way for the return of his remains to the country, that he be buried in his home province of Ilocos Norte, they said.
The Solicitor General had said President Rodrigo Duterte's approval of the burial did not violate any laws. Duterte said Marcos was entitled to such honors as a former president and soldier.
On August 23, the court issued an order to preserve the status quo for at least 20 days, effectively suspending plans for the burial.
Invited as resource persons for the oral arguments are National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III, representatives from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Office of the Ombudsman, Human Rights Victims' Claims Board (HRVCB), Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Adjutant General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
-- Report from Angel Movido, DZMM