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Amid protests, Marcos buried at heroes cemetery in Manila

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In this photo provided by Jun Gudoy from the Office of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, led by wife Imelda Marcos, in black, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ family follows the flag-draped casket during a ceremony of his burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery in Taguig City, east of Manila, today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In this photo provided by the Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs Headquarters Philippine Army, Imelda Marcos, the widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, cries as she receives the Philippine flag from a military officer as their daughter Imee Marcos looks on during a ceremony of his burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery in suburban Taguig city, Philippines, today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In this photo provided by the Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs Headquarters Philippine Army, soldiers prepare to fold the flag-draped casket of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos during his burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery in Taguig City, east of Manila, today.

MANILA >> Long-dead former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried today at the country’s Heroes’ Cemetery in a secrecy-shrouded ceremony, a move approved by President Rodrigo Duterte that infuriated supporters of the “people power” revolt that ousted Marcos three decades ago.

Marcos’s daughter, Imee, expressed relief after her father’s interment at the heavily guarded cemetery in metropolitan Manila, which she said fulfilled his last wish. Enraged pro-democracy activists, however, stressed the decades-long debate over the ex-president’s final resting place was far from over and protested across the metropolis.

Bonifacio Ilagan, a left-wing activist who was detained and tortured during Marcos’s rule, said the dictator was buried “like a thief in the night” in a stealthy fashion similar to when he suddenly placed the country under martial rule. A lawmaker considered asking the Supreme Court to exhume the newly buried Marcos.

“It’s very much like when he declared martial law in 1972,” Ilagan told The Associated Press. “This is so Marcos style. I want to rush to the cemetery to protest this. I feel so enraged.”

Marie Hilao Enriquez, a former political detainee whose sister, a fellow activist, was raped and killed by policemen, wept upon learning the news.

“Marcos died in the arms of his family” but many Marcos-era activists remain missing after being allegedly abducted by state forces, Enriquez said at a protest. “We are still searching for the victims’ bodies, trying to find out where they buried the bodies.”

Imee Marcos thanked those who “were with us in hoping and praying for nearly three decades to see this day.”

President Duterte, who gave the go-ahead signal for the burial, called for calm.

“Hopefully, both sides will exercise maximum tolerance and come to terms with the burial,” Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, quoted him as saying after the president landed in Peru, where he is attending a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Marcos’s remains were flown by air force helicopter from his northern Ilocos Norte hometown for burial at the military-run cemetery in Manila.

Marcos’s widow, Imelda, who was clad in black, and her children attended the simple ceremony, along with dozens of relatives and friends.

After landing at an air base, Marcos’s remains were brought by a black limousine to the cemetery, where his flag-draped wooden coffin was placed on a caisson and later carried by military pallbearers to the gravesite, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

A 21-gun salute by military honor troops rang out during the burial ceremony.

“We rendered the simplest of honors befitting the former president in compliance to the desire of the family,” Padilla said.

Asked why the burial was kept from the public, Padilla said it was the Marcos family’s desire “to keep it private.”

Still, the burial shocked many democracy advocates and human rights victims who had planned protests nationwide Friday against Marcos’s interment at the cemetery, where former presidents, soldiers and national artists have been buried, unaware that funeral plans were already underway.

Burying someone accused of massive rights violations and plunder at the heroes’ cemetery has long been an emotional and divisive issue in the Philippines, where Marcos was ousted by a largely nonviolent army-backed uprising in 1986. At the height of the political turbulence, Marcos flew to Hawaii, where he lived with his wife and children until he died in 1989.

The powerful family has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and Imelda Marcos and two of her children eventually ran for public office and won stunning political comebacks. One son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., ran for vice president earlier this year and lost by a slim margin.

In 1993, Marcos’s body was taken to his hometown in Ilocos Norte, where it has been displayed in a glass coffin and became a tourist attraction. But his family fought for his remains to be transferred to the heroes’ cemetery.

Duterte, who took over the presidency in June, backed Marcos’s burial at the cemetery, saying it was his right as a president and soldier. It was a political risk in a country where democracy advocates celebrate Marcos’s ouster each year.

Last week, the Supreme Court dismissed seven petitions, including from former torture victims, which argued that an honorable burial for the dictator was “illegal and contrary to law, public policy, morals and justice.”

Opponents planned to appeal the court decision within a 15-day period but were pre-empted by Friday’s surprise burial. They said the Marcos family should be cited by the court for contempt.

The court ruled that Marcos was never convicted by final judgment of any offense involving moral turpitude, adding that the convictions cited by anti-Marcos petitioners were civil in nature.

While critics may disregard Marcos as president due to his human rights abuses, the court said he cannot be denied the right to be acknowledged as a former legislator, a defense secretary, a military member, a war veteran and a Medal of Valor awardee.

“While he was not all good,” the 15-member court said, “he was not pure evil either.”

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  • Duterte is losing ground and eventually another dictator will fall. Duterte will have his own burial in the South China Sea and his remains will be disposed of from a United States aircraft carrier with many Chinese dignitaries in attendance. Similar to Bin Laden. Services will be a private, black tie, event. Twenty one surface to air rocket salute (Russian purchased) and refreshments to be served. The Philippines once considered the pearl of the orient is now more like Pol Pot’s Cambodia. When Duterte was asked, what happens after you run out of bad people? He replied, ahhhh, just continue… I see no problem.

  • How quickly the world forgets…it is not coincidental that Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, and Franco, along with other despots and fascists rose up during the same periods in history. An upper class taking too much from everyone below…the economic gap widening with a seemingly uncaring wealthy elite not caring about anything else except their own comfort…leads to populist leaders being put into office, and more often than not these leaders are knee jerk reactions to the status quo. Sad. Now those who went against basic human rights will be exalted as heroes. We all asked for this.

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