Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried with military honors at a heroes’ cemetery in the capital Manila on Friday, almost 30 years after his death in Hawaii, amid protests by human rights groups and opposition politicians.
Many in the Philippines were angered by the way Marcos’ family had kept the timing of the burial secret, with Vice President Leni Robredo likening the ceremony to “a thief in the night.”
“This is nothing new to the Marcoses — they who had hidden wealth, hidden human rights abuses and now a hidden burial — with complete disrespect for the rule of law,” Robredo said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who is attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, had sanctioned the burial in August, fulfilling an election campaign promise.
Marcos’ eldest daughter, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, thanked Duterte for allowing her father, a former soldier and guerrilla leader during World War II, to be laid to rest with soldiers.
“At last, my beloved father’s last will to be buried with fellow soldiers was fulfilled today,” she said. She also asked people to understand the family’s decision to keep the ceremony “simple, private and solemn.”
Human rights groups opposed his burial at the heroes’ cemetery south of Manila but the Philippines Supreme Court ruled against their protests last week.
Marcos ruled the Philippines for 20 years, during which time he, his family and cronies amassed an estimated US$10 billion in ill-gotten wealth, a commission found. Tens of thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were killed.
He was chased from office in a people’s power revolt in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii three years later. His family returned to the Philippines in the 1990s and became powerful politicians representing his home province of Ilocos Norte.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said they were just following orders to bury Marcos at the heroes’ ceremony. “We do not side with anyone, we serve everyone,” he told a press briefing.
The media was banned from the ceremony. Throngs of journalists waited outside the cemetery as a 21-gun salute was fired and a Philippine flag was handed to Marcos’ widow, Imelda.
“This is what we have been praying for,” Marcos supporter Cherrie Cobarrubias told Philippine television.
Dozens of protesters rallied around Manila, some burning pictures of the late ruler.
Marcos’ body was returned to the Philippines in the early 1990s and was placed in a refrigerated mausoleum at his hometown in Paoay.