MANILA >> The Philippine president said today it would be unjust to allow Ferdinand Marcos to be buried with state honors when thousands of human rights victims during the former dictator’s reign have never received any government apology.
Marcos died over 20 years ago in exile after being ousted in a 1986 “people power” revolt. His body has been displayed in a glass coffin in his northern Philippine hometown of Batac in Ilocos Norte province since 1993.
His widow, Imelda, has long pushed for his burial in the Manila heroes’ cemetery, which is reserved for presidents, soldiers, statesmen and national artists. She is opposed by pro-democracy and left-wing groups, who say the late dictator committed massive human rights violations and plundered the nation’s coffers during his two-decade rule.
In response to a question at a news conference today, President Benigno Aquino III said no burial with state honors would happen “under my watch.”
His decision goes against his vice president’s recommendation that Marcos be at least given military honors if he’s to be buried in his northern hometown and not at the national heroes’ cemetery.
The military said it would follow Aquino’s decision and withhold burial honors from Marcos.
“We have so many victims of the martial law years who have not gotten even a recognition formally from our government that they were victims,” Aquino said. “It really would be, I think, the height of injustice to render any honors to the person who was the direct mastermind of all of these sufferings.”
The dictator’s son and namesake, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., criticized Aquino’s decision, saying the president ignored the vice president’s recommendation and a resolution by the House of Representatives in March for the government to bestow burial honors on his father.
“I was surprised because all these talks, discussions and debates turned out to be just a stage play,” Marcos told reporters. “He has wasted a very good opportunity to unify the nation.”
Marcos did not say what his family now intended to do with his father’s remains.
Even 25 years after his downfall, Marcos is a divisive figure in the Philippines. He is reviled by many, including thousands of former political prisoners, and his alleged plundering of the economy remains the subject of protracted litigation. But he still enjoys a degree of popularity — particularly in Ilocos Norte, where his family holds significant political power.