Church protests over court ruling allowing Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in ‘Heroes Cemetery’

Supreme Court allows family of former dictator to inter his remains at national heroes cemetery in Manila

Philippine Church leaders have responded with disappointment to the ruling by the country’s Supreme Court to allow former President Ferdinand Marcos to be re-interned in a cemetery reserved for the Pacific nation’s heroes. “It mocks our fight to restore democracy. I am puzzled and hurt, and in great grief,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Philippine Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference told reporters following the 8 Nov 2016 ruling. The judges on the court voted 9 to 5 to allow the former dictator to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, or Heroes’ Cemetery, in Manila. Marcos was President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. However, between 1972 to 1981 he ruled the country as a dictator under martial law. Anger over corruption and human rights abuses led to the “People Power” revolution in 1986 which forced him into exile in Hawaii, where he died in 1989. His body has rested in a glass coffin at a mausoleum in his hometown province of Ilocos Norte. In recent years the Marcos family has made a political comeback, with his son, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, running second in this year’s election for vice president. President Rodrigo Duterte, a friend and political ally of Bongbong Marcos, said before the May 2016 presidential election: “I will allow the burial of [Marcos] … not because he is a hero but because he was a Filipino soldier.” The Rev. Rex Reyes, Jr., of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, had urged the courts not to allow Marcos to be buried at the Hero’s Cemetery. In a statement released on behalf of the country’s ten major Protestant churches on 5 Sept 2016, Fr. Reyes wrote it was unseemly to bury a man in the nation’s hero’s cemetery who “stole more than U$5 billion from the Filipino people … drove the nation and our people into poverty … lied and embellished his past to make himself appear a hero … [under whose] regime more than 70,000 people were imprisoned, many tortured and more than 3,000 killed as he sought to silence the legitimate voice and struggle of the Filipino people.” He added: “The burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is pouring salt into the wounds of real heroes and heroines who stood up against oppression and paid with their lives.”


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