MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Thousands of protesters from various sectoral groups converged at Luneta on a rainy Friday afternoon, November 25, to denounce the hero's burial that President Rodrigo Duterte accorded strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
During the march from various points in Metro Manila, as well as rallies in key cities across the country, left-leaning groups called on the President to break away from the Marcoses if his desire is sincere to bring healing and peace to the country.
Dubbed as day of "National Day of Unity and Rage," the "grand rally" was organized by the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses in Malacañang (Carmma), an umbrella group of Martial Law victims that campaigned against the vice presidential bid of the late dictator's son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, in 2016.
The main contingent – led by former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and incumbent Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Zarate – convened at the Liwasang Bonifacio at 3 pm, before they marched to the Bermuda Garden in Luneta.
Bayan Muna, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Migrante International, and the Gabriela Women's Party also led the mobilization.
Other groups gathered at Plaza Miranda, Plaza Salamanca, Mendiola, Supreme Court, University of the Philippines Manila, UP Diliman, University of Santo Tomas, De La Salle schools, and the St Scholastica's College before proceeding to Luneta for 4 pm program.
Members of the First Quarter Storm movement, which led the series of protests that triggered Martial Law declaration in 1972, were among the crowd.
"Upang maging tunay 'yung kanyang pagsasabi na gusto niyang manaig 'yung kapayapaan at national healing, kailangan talagang wakasan 'yung pagpabor sa mga Marcos," Carmma spokesperson Boni Ilagan said.
(To fulfill his promise of promoting peace and national healing, he really has to end giving favors to the Marcoses.)
Ilagan said the best way for the leftist groups to influence Duterte into heeding their call is for the Filipino people to unite with their cause.
"The only thing that can convince the President to end such an alliance or whatever you may want to describe his relationship with the Marcoses is for us, the citizens, to show our force and the deep sentiment we have against the Marcoses and that's what we need to start now," he said.
Duterte, who calls himself a leftist, has appointed to the Cabinet leaders of the progressive movement. These Cabinet members have so far decided to stay with the administration, although denouncing the hero's burial for Marcos.
During his campaign for the presidency, Duterte made no secret that he promised the Marcoses that their patriarch will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. As President, he initially refused to give a Cabinet position to Vice President Leni Robredo, so as not to hurt the feelings of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who lost to her in the election. Duterte has said in speeches that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, the late president's oldest daughter, helped the Duterte presidential campaign.
On Friday, Bayan Muna's Ocampo said their call for Duterte to end his relationship with the Marcoses doesn't mean cutting ties with the Ilocano constituencies. It is limited, he said, to the family that had been ousted by the Filipinos in 1986.
"We are pushing to recognize what was decided in 1986 when the Marcoses were ousted," he said. "Our call is not to exclude the Ilocanos but exclude the family already adjudged by history, who was rejected by the nation," Ocampo said.
If Duterte refuses to heed their to end his alliance with the Marcoses, will it derail the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines, with which the rally organizers are allied?
Ocampo said it would not because the negotiation will only fail if the administration would not be friendly, which they still are at this point.
After the 25th
Another rally, organized by the Coalition Against Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (CAMB-LNMB) is set at the People Power monument on November 30, Bonifacio Day.
Carmma and the militant groups will also continue with their series of protest against the burial. No specific schedule on the demonstrations are set at this point.
Former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, on the other hand, said they will be filing a motion for reconsideration on November 28. Colmenares hope the statement of the 1987 Constitution framers on the issue would help enlighten the magistrates.
"I hope the Supreme Court (SC) will look at that because we also argued that his burial is no only a violation of the law but a violation of the constitution," said Colmenares.
Last November 8, the SC voted to allow the burial of the former dictator since there is no law that explicitly prohibiting it.
But the brains behind the post-Martial Law constitution condemned the said burial highlighting that it was drafted following the various atrocities that happened under Marcos' regime.
The statement released November 24 was signed by Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo, former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr, former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod, retired Supreme Court justice Adolf Azcuna, Edmundo Garcia, Ricardo Romulo, Bernardo Villegas, Florangel Rosario Braid, Commission on Human Rights chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon, and militant peasant leader Jaime Tadeo.
For highlights of the November 25 rallies across the country, go to Rappler's live blog. – Rappler.com
All photos by Alecs Ongcal
From the provinces