No heroes' cemetery burial for Marcos - for now

Philippine Supreme Court orders divisive plan backed by President Duterte put on hold

MANILA • The Philippine Supreme Court yesterday ordered the government to put on hold a divisive plan to bury former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a heroes' cemetery, a court spokesman said.

A plan supported by President Rodrigo Duterte to bury the former president in the cemetery has been criticised by human rights groups and many politicians, including Vice-President Leni Robredo and senators allied with former president Benigno Aquino.

The 15-member high bench of the court, responding to a petition filed last week by opponents of the plan, told the government not to do anything on the issue for 20 days, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te told reporters.

Mr Te did not elaborate on why the court had issued the order, but said it had called for arguments from both sides to help the judges decide on the issue before the planned burial on Sept 18.

As a dictator in the 1970s and 1980s, Marcos, along with his family and cronies, amassed an estimated US$10 billion in wealth. During that time, thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were killed. His wife, Imelda, has denied amassing wealth illegally.

Opponents of the plan at a rally. The Supreme Court has told the government to suspend action on the issue for 20 days.
Opponents of the plan at a rally. The Supreme Court has told the government to suspend action on the issue for 20 days. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

In 1986, he was ousted in a "people power" revolt and fled to Hawaii where he died three years later.

His remains were returned in the early 1990s and have been kept in a family mausoleum in his hometown in the north.

Newly elected President Duterte has said Marcos, as a former leader and a soldier, should be buried at the cemetery. Marcos was a guerilla leader during World War II when the former US colony was occupied by Japanese forces.

Opponents of the plan say burying a dictator at the cemetery, known as the Libingan ng mga Bayani, would violate military regulations that bar "those who have been dishonourably discharged from service or personnel convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'No heroes' cemetery burial for Marcos - for now'. Print Edition | Subscribe