MANILA, Philippines – Ferdinand Marcos' fellow Ilocanos gathered Monday, October 17, in front of the Supreme Court (SC) in Manila to express their support for the late strongman's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
A day ahead of the expected release of the SC's decision on the petitions filed against the burial, residents of Ilocos Norte joined their governor Imee Marcos and other "kailian" from Cavite, Tacloban, and Metro Manila for a prayer vigil. "Kailian" is an Ilocano word for community member or "kababayan" in Filipino.
Some 500 Ilocanos joined the "Kailian March," where they trooped to Manila from Paoay, Ilocos Norte, passing through the other so-called "Solid North" provinces of Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan.
Their vigil started with Mass on Monday morning and will continue until the SC announces its ruling on Tuesday afternoon, October 18.
Governor Marcos, for her part, said their family is continuously praying that the SC will give the go signal for the burial. The late dictator's daughter cited President Rodrigo Duterte's stand on the matter as well, saying he believes that the law allows a hero's burial for Marcos.
"I am not an optimistic person by nature so we still pray hard but I hope [they consider] what President Duterte said that [my father can be buried there] as a solider. And the President believes it is according to the law," she told reporters in Filipino.
The governor also urged those opposing the burial to heed Duterte's call for unity.
"Sa lahat ng tumututol, pagbigyan na natin si Presidente Duterte at mga Ilocano na isang bahagi ito sa pagkakaisa ng bansa," she said.
(To all those who are against the hero's burial for my father, let us grant the request of President Duterte and the Ilocanos for national unity.)
Loyalists of the Marcos family hope their "Apo Marcos" can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, even if not as a hero but as a former soldier and president.
"Isa lang siyang tao, ang [hinihiling] lang namin sana being a soldier, kahit 'di na hero, [mailibing siya]," said Charito Garma of Ilocos Norte.
(He's only human. What we are hoping for is that he'll be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, even if just as a soldier.)
Garma also called on SC justices to vote unanimously in their favor, saying that allowing the burial to proceed would be the key to national healing. "I hope they give 15-0 so our nation could finally be at peace," she said.
Another Ilocano supporter, Marilou Salucop, said their show of support proves there are more people in favor of a hero's burial for Marcos. (READ: Duterte to SC: Keep emotions out of Marcos burial decision)
"Sana maaprubahan kami kasi sabi nila nagpapirma sila ng one million na pirma pero sa katunayan, humigit na po, sobra na – mga 1.5 million ang pumayag na mailibing si Marcos," she said.
(I hope the SC approves the planned burial. Marcos loyalists earlier said there were already one million signatures, but in fact, 1.5 million have already signed to push for Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.)
During the period of Martial Law under the Marcos dictatorship, about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed. (READ: 'Buti pa si Marcos may bangkay,' says sister of missing martial law victim)