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MANILA, Philippines – While President Rodrigo Duterte promised a hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a deal approved during the term of his supporter, former president Fidel V. Ramos, prevents this from happening.
In a news conference on Saturday, August 13, Duterte ally Rafael Alunan III said a deal signed in 1992 states the following:
- The Philippine government will allow the return of Marcos’ remains to the Philippines on the condition that “it’s flown straight to Paoay” in Ilocos Norte, from Hawaii
- Marcos “would be given honors befitting a major of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, because that was his last rank in the Armed Forces”
- Marcos’ remains “will not be allowed to be paraded in Metro Manila” because the wounds of the Marcos regime “were still fresh in the minds of many people, and we could not afford bloodshed and instability during our watch”
- “Because the burial will have to be done in Ilocos Norte, there will be no burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani”
Alunan said the Philippine government and the Marcos camp signed this agreement in 1992.
“I would think that because the agreement is still in force, then both sides should honor it,” he said.
‘Let the people decide’
Ramos, for his part, said Congress must decide whether Marcos will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“I said officially, let the people decide. Who are the people? Our representatives and senators now sitting in Congress,” said Ramos, who served in the military under Marcos until turning on him in 1986.
He also suggested that elected lawmakers issue a resolution about Marcos’ burial, saying it would reflect the will of the people.
Ramos and Alunan made these remarks after Duterte sent them to Hong Kong for informal talks with Chinese representatives regarding the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a separate Facebook post on Saturday, Alunan said the agreement took into consideration the following:
- “The divisiveness of the issue”
- “The potential for bloodshed at the time” that the government wanted to prevent
- “The recognition of criminal wrongdoing by his regime that led to his ouster as president and commander-in-chief; and his disqualification for burial honors in the Libingan ng mga Bayani as a logical consequence”
Alunan added that he wants to protect the presidency of Duterte, also known by his initials PRRD.
“I would like to add that we are protective of PRRD’s presidency; and any issue we see that could undermine his effectiveness and erode his political capital too early in the game compels us to speak out and point the way for his consideration and appropriate action,” Alunan said.
He also said the issue is not whether Marcos deserves a hero’s burial as a past president or soldier, “but whether he meets the qualifications of a ‘bayani’ (hero) out of respect for those who lived up to the standards of heroism till the end.”
Alunan said, “His ouster as President and commander-in-chief speaks for itself, and the exception to the rule that disqualifies a candidate should apply here.”
Other Duterte supporters, such as Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, also reject a hero’s burial for Marcos.
Duterte however asserted on Thursday, August 11, that Marcos deserves a hero’s burial because he is a soldier and a former president.
The President said this is allowed under Philippine laws.
Up to 4,000 social media users said they will troop to Luneta on Sunday, August 14, to protest against the planned hero’s burial for Marcos. (READ: Catholic schools reject hero’s burial for Marcos) – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com