"We are deeply saddened by the surreptitious burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which reignites an unwanted divisive factor to the nation. Burying a deposed dictator within one of the most sacred final resting places does not make him a hero," the MBC said in a statement on Monday, November 21.
Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani had been ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill a campaign promise he made to the late dictator's heirs.
The burial was opposed by Martial Law victims and human rights activists before the Supreme Court, but the SC voted 9-5 in favor of the interment on November 8.
The petitioners could still file motions for reconsideration, but in a sudden turn of events, the private funeral service for Marcos took place on November 18. It was announced just an hour before the rites, surprising supporters and opponents alike.
"This event will make it difficult to impart the right lessons to future generations regarding a dark period in our history," said the MBC, one of the country's largest business groups.
"We are shocked that the burial was undertaken in a deceptive manner, with undue haste and without respect for the process of allowing time for respondents to file their petitions to the Supreme Court ruling," the MBC added.
File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler
PCCI: It's a mixed bag
For Donald Dee, the honorary chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), his group cannot take an official position on the issue.
"It is a mixed bag here in PCCI. We therefore cannot take any official position," he said in a text message when sought for comment.
Marcos' critics, including those who were tortured under his regime, argued that the burial was part of an effort to whitewash the Martial Law era. (READ: From Hawaii to Ilocos Norte: The long journey of Ferdinand Marcos' remains)
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International in 2004 named Marcos the second most corrupt leader of all time, behind Indonesian dictator Suharto.
The country's foreign debt went from $2.67 billion in 1972, when Marcos declared martial law, to $28.2 billion in 1986, according to the World Bank.
Both the PCCI and the MBC said they hope the Philippine government would not lose its focus on economic growth and poverty reduction.
"This unnecessary distraction to benefit one family draws our focus away from the critical and enduring need to unite and work with government on a common effort to build our economy, to increase our trade, and to put poverty reduction and inclusive growth on top of our agenda to achieve a better life for all Filipinos," the MBC said.