MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party vice presidential bet Leni Robredo is not in favor of allowing the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose two-decade authoritarian rule was marred by repression and human rights abuses, to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
"Ako hindi sang-ayon doon. Kasi ang Libingan ng mga Bayani, dini-deserve iyon. Sa pangalan pa lang, libingan iyon ng mga Pilipino na tinitingala natin na nag-ambag nang husto at kailangang maging modelo ng bawa't Pilipino," Robredo said in an interview in Bulacan province on Saturday, February 27.
(I am not in favor of that. Because being buried at the Heroes' Cemetery is something that's deserved. Just going by the name, it's the cemetery for Filipinos we look up to, those who contributed a lot for our country, and who should be models of every Filipino.)
Robredo added that a hero's burial is not about special treatment, but about whether or not a person has earned the right to lie alongside other Filipino heroes.
"Ang tanong ngayon, deserving ba iyong dating pangulong Marcos para ilibing doon? Siya ba ang halimbawa ng isang Pilipino na nagbuwis ng buhay, nagsakripisyo nang husto para sa ating bansa?" she said.
(The question now is, does former president Marcos deserve to be buried there? Is he an example of a Filipino who sacrified his life, or sacrified for his country?)
Asked if she thought the late Marcos deserved to be buried there, Robredo simply replied: "For me, no."
In contrast, at least one presidential aspirant is willing to allow the late president to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery, if only to allow the country to "heal."
“Why don’t we heal? It’s also the Filipino nation who wants to see something good come out of it," Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said in Laoag City.
The mayor, whose disciplinarian style of governance has been compared to that of Marcos, had said that Marcos was "a great president" and a "hero."
He earlier said that Marcos was the "best president" the Philippines ever had, if not for the dictatorship and the human rights abuses.
Another presidential aspirant, Grace Poe, said that any decision to give Marcos a hero's burial must be in accordance with the law. Citing Republic Act 10368, Poe said such a decision should be aligned with the intent of the law, which recognizes the heroism of Filipinos who were victims of human rights violations under Marcos.
On February 25, the Philippines marked the 30th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, a populist uprising in 1986 that toppled the dictatorship and forced the Marcoses into US exile.
The bloodless revolution came after years of atrocities under the Marcos regime. It also installed into power the late President Corazon Aquino, whose son is the current Philippine president.
Recent years, however, have seen the comeback of the Marcoses in Philippine politics. In the upcoming May 2016 polls, Robredo will be up against Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator, in the vice presidential race.