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Asia

Filipinos 'outraged' by Marcos' burial

Former Philippine president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos has been buried with military honors at the Heroes' Cemetery. Many people are expressing outrage at the decision. Ana P. Santos reports from Manila.

Philippine rights groups are protesting after the secretive burial of former Philippine president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery in Manila on Friday. Opponents of the decision say that Marcos doesn't deserve the honor because of human rights violations during his 21-year rule.  

"This is a dark day in the nation's history, when a tyrant, a murderer, a thief, is celebrated as a hero by a state of oligarchs and traitors," Philippine human rights group Karapatan said in a statement to news agencies.

"This is nothing new for the Marcoses," Leni Robredo, an anti-Marcos activist said in a statement obtained by Reuters news agency. "They had hidden wealth, hidden human rights abuses and now a hidden burial - with complete disrespect for the rule of law."

After the Philippine Supreme Court made the decision on Tuesday, November 8, many Filipinos took to the streets in several cities to express their anger and dismay.

"We were hoping that the Supreme Court would uphold democratic principles and justice," Aida Santos, a member of Claimants 1081, an organization of Martial Law survivors who filed a suit against the Marcos estate, told DW.

"While he (Marcos) was not entirely good, he was not pure evil either. Certainly, he was just a human who erred like us," the judges said.

Deep wounds

Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986 and he ruled as dictator under Martial Law from 1972-1981. During those years, more than 60,000 people were detained, over 30,000 tortured, and an estimated 3,000 were killed, according to rights groups.

Philippinen Quezon Stadt Proteste Marcos (DW/A. Santos)

Marcos ruled the Philippines for 21 years from 1965 to 1986

Marcos was overthrown in a peaceful revolution in 1986. The former dictator died in 1989 while living in exile in Hawaii. Later, his remains were flown back to the Philippines and they remained until his burial in a refrigerated crypt in his home province of Ilocos in the country's north.

"The people are aghast, disappointed and angry. We will not stop fighting for justice," Santos said.

A coalition against the Marcos burial at the Heroes' Cemetery had appealed the Supreme Court's decision.

Filipinos divided

"President Rodrigo Duterte called Marcos a hero. He should be held accountable for saying that," said Jean Enriquez, coordinator for the World March of Women. 

The Marcos burial has long divided Filipinos. Duterte had made it clear during his presidential campaign that he would not oppose a hero's burial for Marcos because he was "a former soldier and a president."

Preparations for Marcos' burial had started in September but the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order after the Martial Law victims filed a petition against it.

Duterte's links with the Marcos family

Phillippinen Rodrigo Duterte (Reuters/L. Daval Jr)

President Duterte has been vocal about his alliance with the Marcos family

Marcos' son ran for vice president in the May election but lost by a mere 250,000 votes to Leonora Robredo. Subsequently, Marcos Jr. alleged election fraud, challenging the results in more than 39,000 precincts across 25 provinces and five cities.

Although he ran with a different vice-presidential candidate, President Duterte has been vocal about his alliance with the Marcos family. He also said he would support Marcos Jr.'s bid for the vice-presidency.

The Marcos family was part of the entourage that accompanied Duterte during a state visit to China last month. At a gathering of the Filipino community in Beijing, Duterte introduced Marcos Jr. as his potential "second in command."