Relatives mull move out of Heroes' Cemetery to protest Marcos burial

MANILA, Philippines – If president-elect Rodrigo Duterte makes good on his statement that he would allow the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, some relatives of those buried at the Heroes' Cemetery are considering moving their loved ones out of the cemetery.

Singer and actress Celeste Gallardo told Rappler that her family is now preparing to transfer her late father's remains. She is the daughter of Cesar Legaspi, National Artist for Visual Arts, who is considered a Philippine master of cubism.

"We have begun to secure the necessary requirements in order to remove my father from the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We hope to accomplish this before September 11," she said.

In a press conference earlier this week, Duterte had said he would allow Marcos' burial at the Heroes' Cemetery not because he is a hero, but because he was a Filipino soldier.

Duterte said the controversy has "long created a division" among the Filipino people, and added that allowing the burial would "erase one hatred" from the people.

Asked about the victims of human rights abuses under the Marcos regime, Duterte replied that the victims can already claim monetary compensation.

But Duterte's recent pronouncement did not sit well with netizens, who have begun an online campaign against the move. A Change.org petition opposed the plan, saying the dictator did not deserve to be laid to rest beside Filipino heroes.

In a Facebook post, Inquirer editor Chelo Banal-Formoso also appealed to Duterte not to allow a Marcos burial at the cemetery.

Formoso's grandfather is Conrado Banal Sr, who fought against the Japanese during World War II.

In her post, Formoso recalled how her grandfather left his family behind to fight and defend his country, heeding the call of duty.

Formoso added that while Filipino soldiers sacrificed for their country, Marcos – the dictator whose authoritarian regime was marred by human rights abuses and corruption – lived a life of luxury.

"Ferdinand Marcos Sr, on the other hand, did everything he could to stay on and on in Malacañang with his family... He bequeathed wealth to his wife, his children, his children's children, his children's children's children, ad infinitum, in the form of properties that he usurped from other families and huge sums of money that he borrowed in the name of the Filipino people," she said.

Worse, she said, Marcos used soldiers and the military to impose his iron-fisted reign. 

"He turned soldiers, whose sworn duty was to protect people's life and liberty, into monsters who tortured and killed their own countrymen. During his dictatorship, he sanctioned the coercion, detention, abuse, rape and murder of thousands of Filipinos by soldiers under his command," Formoso said.

She added, "On record, 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 cases of torture and 70,000 incarcerations were carried out by the military with impunity during the regime of this supremely selfish man who had no soul."

Formoso said that if Duterte allows a Marcos burial at the Heroes' Cemetery, she is considering moving her grandfather's remains elsewhere. – Rappler.com