DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte plans to make good on his controversial campaign promise to bury the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
“That can be arranged immediately,” he said when asked when the burial would take place. Duterte granted media interviews on Monday night, May 23.
He admitted that the move may disgust some who don’t believe Marcos deserves to be treated as a hero given his human rights abuses during his dictatorship. But he said there are other reasons for the burial.
“I will allow the burial of President Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani not because he is a hero, kung ayaw ng iba (if others dont’ like it), but because he was a Filipino soldier, period,” he said.
He repeated earlier statements that Marcos’ burial would initiate “healing” among the Filipino people.
“It has long created a division among our people. Almost all Ilocanos naghihinakit talaga (are hurting because of it),” said Duterte.
Asked if he believed the controversial move would really unify Filipinos, he said, “I do not know, but it would erase one hatred. I am sure it would erase from our people one hatred.”
And what about the victims of human rights abuses? Duterte said monetary compensation is already available to them.
“Nandiyan na 'yung k'wan, kobrahin 'nyo na 'yung pera,” he said. (The compensation is there. You can claim the money.)
Marcos’ burial on his birthday on September 11 – he would be 99 years old if he were alive – would be “okay” with Duterte.
“I don’t mind as long as it’s the appropriate time to bury him,” he said.
Duterte first promised to give Marcos a hero’s burial last February while campaigning in Ilocos Norte, home province of the Marcoses.
Marcos' only son and namesake, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, is in a tight race for vice president against Liberal Party's Leni Robredo. The canvassing of their votes start in Congress on Thursday, May 25. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.