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:
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:
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.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.