Duterte: Don't let sentiment, compassion taint judgment

MANILA, Philippines – A day after thousands held protests across the country, President Rodrigo Duterte again defended his decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), insisting that he merely followed the law.

Speaking at the San Beda College law alumni homecoming on Saturday night, November 26, Duterte said that it was not for him to decide on Marcos' morality, but that as a lawyer, he only looked at what the law provides.

"Whether or not he became good or bad along the years, that is not for me to decide," he said.

"There is several jurisprudence....You should not allow compassion and sentiment to taint your judgment," he added.

The President also said that he had to consider the issue with "cold neutrality."

Duterte drew flak in recent weeks after the surprise burial of the late strongman at the heroes' cemetery last week, following a Supreme Court decision that junked a petition opposing the burial.

The High Court had ruled that there were no laws prohibiting Marcos' burial, since military guidelines allow for former presidents to be buried at the LNMB.

But petitioners had argued that Marcos did not deserve to be buried at the final resting place of the country's heroes and martyrs because of the human rights violations and plundering of government coffers during the martial law regime. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

The People Power Revolution that ended Marcos' rule, they said, should be considered dishonorable discharge – one of the exceptions listed in the military guidelines allowing burial at the LNMB. 

Former president Fidel Ramos, among the most vocal critics of the hero's burial for Marcos, who was at the San Beda event. (READ: FVR: Marcos burial an 'insult' to AFP, PNP)

Duterte apparently took Ramos' criticisms in stride, based on his greeting to the former president in his speech: "Former president Fidel Ramos, my number 1 critic and number 1 supporter. And that is good. You know, dissent and crticism would  needed make this democratic country healthy."

Ramos had also criticized Duterte for his pronouncements against the United States.

Duterte had earlier said that he was being "legalistic" when he allowed the burial for the late dictator – a fulfillment of his campaign promise to the Marcoses. 

But critics, including leftist groups condemning the burial, said they are holding the Duterte administration responsible for what they called a "sneaky" burial fit for a thief. – Rappler.com