Protesters at People Power monument: ‘We blame Duterte'

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2016 06:29 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2016 04:50 AM

MANILA - Groups opposing the burial of the former president Ferdinand Marcos on Friday vented their ire towards President Rodrigo Duterte after the remains of the late dictator were buried at the Libingan ng mg Bayani.

Anti-Marcos groups, which converged at the People Power Monument built to commemorate the historic and bloodless revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship, said Duterte should be condemned for allowing the late dictator’s remains at the heroes’ cemetery.

“Sinisisi namin si President Duterte, ang Korte Suprema na hindi makaboto ayon sa kanilang konsensya,” said Budit Carlos of human rights group i-Defend.

(We blame President Duterte, the Supreme Court justices who cannot vote based on their conscience.)

It was Duterte who pushed for Marcos' burial, saying it was legal, as the dictator was also a soldier. The Marcos family also has repeatedly thanked Duterte for paving the way for the burial at the heroes' cemetery.

The Supreme Court last week rejected a petition by human rights victims to stop the transfer of Marcos' remains to the same resting place of former presidents, national artists, and heroes of war.

Anti-Marcos groups, however, were surprised that the burial pushed through despite a probable appeal from the petitioners for the high court to overturn its decision.

Marcos' remains were transferred by helicopter from Ilocos Norte province, where it had been kept since it was brought back to the country in 1993. He died while on exile in Hawaii in 1989, three years after he was ousted by a military-backed popular revolt.

“It is characteristic of him, like a thief in the night,” said prominent anti-Marcos figure Jim Paredes.

“They think this is closure? No! Bastusan ito. (This is utter disrespect). They disrespected all the people who suffered in Martial Law. I call on the Duterte government for doing this. This is a monstrosity.”

Nilda Lagman Sevilla, sister of human rights lawyer and forced disappearance victim Hermon Lagman, said Marcos does not deserve a burial at the hallowed grounds.

“Hindi namin alam kung anong nangyari sa aming mga mahal sa buhay na dinukot at nawala, kung sila ba ay pinatay at kung saan sila itinapon,” Sevilla said.

(We don’t know what happened to our loved ones who were abducted, whether they were killed and if yes, where their remains were brought.)

“Tuwing Undas wala kaming puntod na dinadalaw pero sa aming puso sila ay mga bayani. Sila ay mga martir. Sila ang dapat parangalan, hindi ang isang diktador.”

(Every All Souls’ Day we don’t have a cemetery to visit. But in our hearts they are the real heroes, martyrs. They are the ones who deserve honor, not the dictator.)


Photo from Imee Marcos Facebook page

The burial of the late dictator is a highlight in his family’s bid to make a political comeback following a humiliating ouster in 1986.

The late dictator's only son and namesake, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., narrowly lost the vice-presidential race this year to Leni Robredo, an ally of the family's political nemesis and Duterte's immediate predecessor, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

His widow, former first lady Imelda Marcos is a congresswoman in Ilocos Norte while his eldest daughter, Imee, is the provincial governor.

The country marked 30th anniversary of Marcos' ouster this year, with 75,000 victims still awaiting reparation.

The Marcoses allegedly plundered $10 billion from state coffers during their reign and only $4 billion in cash and assets have been recovered by an anti-graft body formed by his successor, the late president Corazon Aquino.

With old wounds reopened, the protesters said they will continue to fight until they achieve justice, and having the remains of the late dictator exhumed from the heroes’ cemetery will be one of their crusades.