MANILA (Reuters) – Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried with military honours 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 shocked and angered by the way Marcos’ family had kept the timing of the burial secret, with Vice President Lenie 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 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 ordered the burial in August, fulfilling an election campaign promise.
Human rights groups opposed his burial at the heroes’ cemetery south of Manila but the Philippines Supreme Court ruled against their protests last week. [nL4N1D93F1]
Marcos ruled the Philippines for 20 years, during which time he, his family and cronies amassed an estimated $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 Colonel Edgard Arevalo said “the will of the Marcos family” had to be respected after they requested a simple, private ceremony. The media was banned from the Libingan ng mga Bayani cemetery.
Throngs of journalists waited outside as the military gave the late president a hero’s funeral, a 21-gun salute being fired as a Philippine flag was rolled and handed to Marcos’ widow, Imelda.
“This is what we have been praying for,” Marcos supporter Cherrie Cobarrubias told Philippine television, saying she planned to visit the grave later on Friday.
“We are happy,” she said.
Dozens of activists, human rights advocates and students, carrying placards and banners saying “Marcos is a traitor, Marcos not a hero” held protest rallies around Manila, some burning pictures of the late ruler.
Police said Marcos’ body was flown by helicopter from his hometown in the northern Philippines for burial at noon.
Marcos’ body was returned to the Philippines in the early 1990s and was placed in a refrigerated mausoleum at his hometown in Paoay in Ilocos Norte province.
(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Paul Tait)