Marcos supporters, critics face off after hero’s burial

Mara Cepeda
A loyalist hails the Marcoses for keeping the late strongman's burial a secret, as it prevented more anti-Marcos groups from mobilizing outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani

NO TO BURIAL. Young anti-Marcos supporters protest outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani after the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos' burial there. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Supporters and critics of former president Ferdinand Marcos traded barbs outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani after the late dictator’s state interment on Friday, November 18. 

As the anti-Marcos protesters chanted “Nakaw ‘nyo, isoli niyo (Return what you stole)!” the Marcos loyalists replied with “Marcos pa rin! Marcos pa rin! Ilibing, ilibing! (Still Marcos! Still Marcos! Bury him, bury him!)”

People from both sides rushed to the cemetery as news broke that Marcos was to be buried by noontime Friday. The heirs of the late president had arranged a private burial, which the media discovered less than an hour before the rites took place. (READ: Petitioners on stealth burial: We won’t take this sitting down)

Marcos’ interment happened exactly 10 days after the Supreme Court, voting 9-5, thumbed down petitions seeking to bar his hero’s burial. They cited state-sanctioned human rights violations during Martial Law.

Anita Petil, a member of the pro-Marcos United BBM group, said they knew of the plan ahead of time but kept it secret as requested by the Marcoses.

Labis siyempre ang katuwaan, ano? Saka alam naman naming ililibing na, sikreto lang! Alam naman namin na ang mga anti-Marcos, ang mga dilawan, ay nakaabang, said Petil. 

(I am overjoyed, right? And we knew that he would be buried, but it was just a secret! We know that the anti-Marcos groups, the yellows, are on standby.)

“Yellow” refers to the groups affiliated with the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III. It is the color of the former ruling party, the Liberal Party, adopted from the anti-Marcos movement in the early 1980s.

FINALLY. Marcos loyalists rejoice that the late strongman is finally buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Petil said if the Marcoses announced the exact date of the burial, more anti-Marcos groups would have mobilized outside the cemetery.

Tingnan mo, kung hindi ginawang sikreto itong libing na ‘to, eh ‘di hindi lang ‘yan ang mga anti na makikita rito. Sigurado ‘yan ay dadagsa. Kaya kami ay nagpapasalamat naging maganda ang programa ng mga Marcos sa ngayon dahil nailibing siya nang maayos,” she said.  

(Look, if the burial wasn’t kept a secret, then there would have been more anti-Marcos groups. That’s why we are thanking the Marcoses for their program because he was buried peacefully.)

Anti-Marcos rallyist Milky Babilonia, however, called the secrecy behind the burial preparations “sneaky” and likened it to how Marcos robbed the country’s coffers when he ruled. (READ: Robredo: Marcos buried ‘like a thief in the night’)

Sobrang sneaky! Parang si Marcos nung ninakawan niya ang bansang Pilipinas, ‘di ba? (It was so sneaky! It’s like Marcos when he stole from the Philippines, right?) So we came here united by that one common message. We do not have any political affiliation. This is a peaceful protest,” said Babilonia. 

Protesting the ‘moral thing to do’

'NOT A HERO.' Alaysa Escandor, whose grandfather Juan was tortured and killed during Martial Law, is against Marcos' burial. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Alaysa Escandor said that Marcos will not be considered a hero even if he is already buried at the national shrine for heroes.  

“In face of injustice, the moral thing to do is not to peacefully keep silent. The moral thing to do is not to be silent in the face of injustice. The moral thing to do is to go out in the streets, protest and show this should not happen,” said Escandor.  

She also called out President Rodrigo Duterte, who had promised Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani during the campaign period and also gave his go signal for the burial after the SC released its ruling.  (READ: Duterte on Marcos burial: Let history judge, I followed law)

“Mr Duterte said that this action, Mr Duterte said this burial, will lead to a peaceful healing. But I ask him: Is this the kind of peace that you want? There is no peace without justice. There is no peace without recognizing historical wrong, and there’s no peace without truth. And the truth is, Marcos was a dictator. Diktatdor, Hitler, tuta! ‘Yan ang panawagan natin (Dictator, Hitler, lapdog! That’s our message),” said Escandor.

Several anti-Marcos groups are already mobilizing across Metro Manila to protest the interment of Marcos.  

TIGHT SECURITY. Police stand guard outside the main entrance of the Libingan ng mga Bayani. No supporter or rallyist has entered the cemetery as of early Friday afternoon. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

But for Marcos loyalist Henry Balonso, it is time that the anti-Marcos groups move forward, a message repeatedly stated by the Marcos family and the Duterte administration.

Ang masasabi ko lang sa kanila, dapat magkaisa na po tayo. Dahil kapag hindi po tayo nagkaisa, alam ‘nyo po ang bansa natin, magulo, magulo (What I can tell them is that we should be united. Because if we don’t, our country will be in chaos),” said Balonso. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.