MANILA, Philippines – Aside from being a former president and a soldier, there are other reasons that make the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos qualified for burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery), said an official from the Department of National Defense (DND).
"For one, he was a former president. He was [also] a former secretary of National Defense, he was a former soldier, and he was a former world war veteran," DND Public Affairs Service Director Arsenio Andolong said in a press briefing on Monday, August 8.
"The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has very clear regulations regarding that... I believe based on these regulations, he is qualified," he added.
Various groups oppose a hero's burial for Marcos because of the massive corruption and human rights abuses during his regime. (READ: Worse than death: Torture methods during martial law)
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) also recently released pamphlets that refuted Marcos' supposed record as a World War II soldier.
Asked whether the late dictator should be disqualified due to "moral turpitude," Andolong said in a mix of English and Filipino: "That will have to be answered by the legal authorities because we only follow the directive coming from the commander-in-chief to us here at the DND and the AFP."
Despite protests, Duterte approved Marcos' burial at the Libingan. No final date has been announced yet, but the transfer of his remains from Ilocos Norte to the cemetery in Taguig City could take place in September, days after his 99th birth anniversary on September 11.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday, August 7, ordered the AFP to prepare for Marcos' burial, citing "verbal orders" from the President.
According to Andolong, the AFP will take care of all the activities related to the interment. These include the ceremony, protocols, and the assignment of honor guards. The ceremony may allow for military honors but that has yet to be finalized, said Andolong.
The AFP is also tasked with beautifying and cleaning the burial site. Marcos' remains will be placed in the area where other former presidents lie.
Currently, there are only 3 former presidents buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani: Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, and Elpidio Quirino.