Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Philippine court clears way to give Ferdinand Marcos a hero's burial

A Philippine court has approved Ferdinand Marcos' remains being moved to the country's national Heroes' Cemetery in a controversial verdict that will elevate the legacy of the late dictator. Marcos killed, jailed and tortured more than 100,000 people and plundered US$10 billion ($12.9 billion) in state funds before he was toppled in a 1986 popular revolt, historians say.

Marcos also lied about having received medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, during World War II, according to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

The verdict delivered on Tuesday in the Philippine Supreme Court is a victory for newly-elected president Rodrigo Duterte, who has fashioned himself as Marcos-like strongman since being swept into power in May.

Nine judges voted in favour and five against the re-burial in a verdict that is likely to further widen a divide between Filipinos who pine for Marcos' authoritarian-style rule and those alarmed by human rights abuses under Mr Duterte, whose crackdown on drugs has left thousands dead.

The court heard heated exchanges as victims of the brutal Marcos years and human rights activists argued against the move.

Mr Duterte has openly admired Marcos and is a close friend of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who narrowly lost a bid to become vice-president at the May elections.

"He was a great president and he was a hero. He had the idealism, the vision for this country," Mr Duterte told reporters in September, referring to Marcos' rule from 1969 until millions of protesters took to the streets in 1986 to force him to flee the country with his family and top cronies.

Debate over the re-burial forced a national reckoning over a contentious period of Philippine history.

Mr Duterte's reversal of a ban by previous presidents and his appeasing of the still powerful and rich Marcos clan prompted anti-Marcos protests on Manila's streets over recent weeks.

Protesters stood outside the court on Tuesday behind banners that read "Marcos is no hero".

Hundreds of pro-Marcos supporters were also there, arguing the former president deserved a heroes' burial not only as a former president but also a supposed decorated war hero and leader of a guerrilla unit that fought Japan's occupying troops during the war.

But the National Historical Commission opposed moving the "eternally embalmed" body that has been on display in a mausoleum in Marcos' northern home town of Batac City, saying his war record was "fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies and lies".

The commission accused Marcos of lying about how he served in a guerrilla unit and how he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel by 1947. Some research even indicated that he collaborated with the Japanese.

The US military, which holds all official World War II records related to the Philippines during the last war, has backed the commission's findings, including conclusions over Marcos' bogus medals.

Marcos' 86-year-old wife Imelda, who is best known for leaving behind more than 1000 pars of shoes in 1986, has been pushing for her husband's remains to be moved to the Heroes' Cemetery since she accompanied the body back from exile in 1993, four years after his death.

Mrs Marcos was re-elected unopposed as a district congress woman in May and her daughter Imee is the governor of the family's home province of Ilocos Norte.

Around 49,000 bodies are buried on 256-acre cemetery on military land, including late presidents, artists, scientists, dignitaries, military and police chiefs. SMH Lindsay Murdoch

No comments:

Post a Comment