THE late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani Friday noon, more than a week after the Supreme Court decided in favor of the burial and more than 27 years after he died in exile in Hawaii.
Police said the burial was made unannounced to ensure peace and order during the solemn event.
“This is part of the PNP’s order to ensure peace and order. Initially Senator Bongbong [Marcos] wanted the burial to be on Sunday but we were told yesterday that it will be today,” said National Capital Region Police Office director Oscar Albayalde.
Marcos’ eldest daughter, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte and the Supreme Court for allowing the burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani, which according to her, was the last wish of her father before he died.
“The last wishes of my beloved father came true at last. The former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos is now laid to rest with fellow soldiers,” she said. “Me and my family, from the bottom of our hearts, thank
you all for sharing the rights of my father to be laid here at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
“First of all, to President Duterte who proposed this, and to the [justices of the] Supreme Court who decided this, and to the thousands of supporters of our family. You came along and prayed for almost three decades to witness this,” she said.
The governor said they made the burial private because they wanted a solemn and peaceful funeral.
“We apologize and we are asking for your understanding for the decision made by our family to have simple, private and solemn burial of my father,” she said. “Our never-ending gratitude to all. Long live Philippines.”
Marcos’ namesake and only son former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. extended his gratitude to President Duterte. “Our family will forever be thankful for his kind gesture,” he said.
“It is our sincerest hope that this will lead the nation towards healing as we endeavor to move the country forward to give every Filipino a better life,” he added.
Former first lady Imelda Marcos, wearing a black terno, walked alongside children Imee, Ferdinand Jr., and Irene, while soldiers carrying his wooden casket marched slowly to his grave. The former president was given a 21-gun salute. His only living sibling, Fortuna Marcos-Barba, watched the burial from her wheelchair.
Marcos’ remains were flown in from a mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte, to the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig and was interred shortly before noon—10 days after the Supreme Court voted 9-5-1 to dismiss the consolidated petitions seeking to stop it.
Many groups, including those from the militant left, opposed the Marcos burial at the heroes’ cemetery.
“Like a thief in the night, even in death,” said Renato Reyes of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, adding that the hasty burial of Marcos appears to be out of fear of the growing protests of the people.
“The heirs of Marcos want to sneak in the dictator’s remains at the LNMB, away from the indignation of the Filipino people. They are mistaken though if they think we will let this day pass without any protest,” he said.
“We call on the people to make known their outrage by joining the Black Friday protests at 12 noon in various areas and by holding indignation rallies tonight at 6 p.m. Let this day be marked not by the rejoicing of the heirs of the dictator, but by the cries of outrage by the Marcos victims and the people who refuse to forget the judgment of history,” Reyes said.
The Supreme Court on November 8 rejected a petition by human rights victims to stop the transfer of Marcos’ remains to the Libingan.
The burial was a fulfillment of the campaign promise Duterte made in February while he was in Marcos’ home province of Ilocos Norte.
Duterte said he believed Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, not because he was a hero, but because he was a soldier and a former president.
“The issue about Marcos’ burial at the Libingan has created division among our people. Almost all Ilocanos have bad feelings about that,” he said. “If you don’t want to call him a hero, then just think of him as a soldier.”
He said allowing a hero’s burial for the former president would help unite the country.
Ferdinand Marcos was the country’s President from 1965 to 1986, ruling as a dictator under Martial Law from 1972 to 1981. He was ousted in the People Power revolt in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii. Before becoming president, Marcos also served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and of the Senate from 1959 to 1965, where he was also Senate President from 1963 to 1965.
Duterte on Friday said the decision to proceed with the burial was entirely legal and pleaded for national healing.
“We have to decide once and for all. Me, I was legalistic about it. President Marcos was a president for so long and he was a soldier. That’s about it,” Duterte told state television RTVM shortly after arriving in Lima, Peru to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this weekend.
Dodging criticism about human rights violations committed during Marcos’ 20-year rule, Duterte said that these were allegations yet to be proven.
In a statement read by presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Duterte said that he was only doing the legal thing.
“Let history judge but I will do what it is legal and the Supreme Court has ruled that it is,” Duterte said.
Abella echoed Duterte’s plea for Filipinos to find it in their hearts to forgive the late strongman.
“Hopefully, both sides will exercise maximum tolerance and come to terms with the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos,” Abella said.
Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said that critics of the burial have already been given a chance to prove their case, reiterating that it’s already time for the late strongman to be buried.
“The President was so clear about that since the campaign period,” Banaag said in a Palace briefing.
Abella, along with senior Cabinet officials who were with the President in Peru, said Duterte didn’t know about the date of the burial.
“As far as I know, he was not sure of the exact date,” Abella said of the President at a press briefing.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said he, too, was not informed about the burial.
“I do not know. I am here in Lima, Peru with the President,” Lorenzana said in a text message.
The defense chief, whose department supervises the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which oversess the Libingan ng mga Bayani, said he was only informed that the Marcoses wanted the burial to take place “not later than Dec. 1.”
Abella also said that there’s “nothing sneaky” about the rushed burial.
“I believe the President has done his part and the issue of the actual burial itself belongs to the Marcos family,” he added.
Abella also said there was no direct conversation” between Duterte and the Marcos family as the President’s focus in the past days was on Peru, where he would attend this year’s Apec Summit.
Abella’s statement, however, contradicted Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa’s claim that Duterte knew Marcos would be buried on Friday.
It was Dela Rosa who broke the news of the burial at around 10 a.m., and said that the military was informed about the burial date last Thursday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m.
AFP spokesperson, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla affirmed Dela Rosa’s claims, saying that Duterte himself was aware when Marcos would be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“The President is always kept aware of everything that’s happening in the country,” Padilla said.
He added that there was no announcement regarding Marcos’ interment “in deference” to the wishes of the Marcos family.
“They are the ones who lost someone, not us. We just provide the services,” Padilla said.
Padilla said they were informed late by the Defense Department to provide burial services for the late strongman on Friday noon.
“That’s why we were given short notice, because of their request to do it in private,” Padilla said.