Duterte tells Filipinos to accept hero's burial for Marcos

Former first lady Imelda Marcos (in black) speaking to supporters at the grave of her husband, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the national heroes' cemetery in Manila yesterday, a day after the controversial burial took place.
Former first lady Imelda Marcos (in black) speaking to supporters at the grave of her husband, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the national heroes' cemetery in Manila yesterday, a day after the controversial burial took place.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Filipinos to accept the controversial burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Manila's heroes' cemetery.

"President Marcos was a president for so long and he was a soldier," Mr Duterte said, in a video interview released by Radio TV Malacanang on Friday.

"So that's about it. Whether or not he performed worse or better, there is no study, there is no movie about it. It's just the challenges and allegations of the other side, which are not enough."

Opponents of a hero's burial for Mr Marcos expressed outrage over his surprise, private funeral last Friday at the national cemetery, in what they called a "sneaky" manoeuvre to flout the judicial process.

Victims of torture and imprisonment during the Marcos era have long opposed the burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani cemetery, which is reserved for national heroes, and some have said they will seek to have the body removed.

PUTTING THE PAST BEHIND

Whether or not he performed worse or better, there is no study, there is no movie about it. It's just the challenges and allegations of the other side, which are not enough... It seems to be a very raucous issue for the nation but I would like to pray that everybody would find a space in his heart for forgiveness.

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE, on controversial burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Hundreds of protesters gathered after the funeral at the People's Power Monument, which commemorates the movement that ousted Mr Marcos in 1986.

Mr Marcos held power for two decades, ruling for nearly half that time under martial law.

His government is believed to have killed more than 3,000 political opponents and tortured tens of thousands more while he and his associates stole an estimated US$10 billion from the country.

After his ouster, he fled to Hawaii, where he died in 1989.

Four years later, his remains were returned to his home town, Batac, in Ilocos Norte province.

A preserved body purported to be that of Mr Marcos was long on public display there, but many speculated it was a substitute made of wax.

In his interview, Mr Duterte urged Filipinos to move beyond the acrimony over the Marcos legacy.

"It seems to be a very raucous issue for the nation but I would like to pray that everybody would find a space in his heart for forgiveness," he said.

BLOOMBERG, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 20, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte tells Filipinos to accept hero's burial for Marcos'. Print Edition | Subscribe