MANILA (AFP) - The daughter of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos called for forgiveness on Monday (Oct 17) as she led a rally at the Supreme Court urging it to approve a controversial hero's burial for her father.
About 1,000 supporters gathered with Imee Marcos at the court, which may announce on Tuesday whether it approves President Rodrigo Duterte's order to allow the burial at Manila's National Heroes' Cemetery 27 years after the strongman died.
Imee, governor of the family's northern stronghold of Ilocos Norte, cited Pope Francis as she called for human rights victims and other critics of the dictatorship to abandon their campaign against the burial plan.
"To those who are criticising and who are not allied with us, I hope you set aside your grievances. All of us have anger and bitterness in our hearts but we should set that aside because, as the pope said: 'When we forgive, you will be free and happy'," Marcos told reporters outside the Supreme Court.
However she maintained her family's long-time position that her father, accused of plundering billions of dollars and overseeing widespread human rights abuses during his 21-year rule, was a positive force for the country.
"If in our view my father was great, others have many criticism, but let us no longer debate," she said.
The dictator and his wife Imelda led their family into US exile in 1986 after a military-backed "People Power" revolution toppled him from power.
Marcos died in Hawaii three years later. His embalmed body was brought back to the Philippines in 1993 and placed in a glass-topped casket at his northern Philippine home.
Presidents since then refused family requests for him to be buried at the heroes' cemetery, even as the Marcos clan enjoyed a remarkable political comeback.
Imelda Marcos is a congresswoman and her son, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, remains a powerful politician with presidential ambitions after narrowly losing the election for the vice presidency this year.
Duterte, who was elected in a landslide this year, has close ties to the Marcos family and has pushed for the burial.
Opponents of the Marcos regime have insisted this would just help to whitewash his crimes, and filed the petition with the Supreme Court to ban it.
One prominent opponent who was detained under the Marcos regime, Satur Ocampo, on Monday dismissed Imee Marcos's appeal for forgiveness.
"It's unfair that they are asking people to forgive and forget without them making a formal acknowledgement of the crimes of the Marcoses to the people," he told AFP.