By Leani M. Auxilio
New York City — Filipinos here are asking Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his decision to allow the burial of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos in the national heroes cemetery in the Philippines in September this year. In a rally at the Philippine Consulate on 5th Avenue, the group called Kontra Libing Northeast USA opposed Duterte’s plan and handed over a petition letter which adds up to about 30,000 signatories worldwide.
“Burying Ferdinand E. Marcos alongside our nation’s heroes who fought for our freedom is an affront to the thousands of lives tortured and murdered during his reign. A hero does not take away freedom, he campaigns for it and fights for its survival for the sake of others,” the petition letter said.
The remains of the late Marcos is currently being held in a refrigerated tomb in his family’s mausoleum in Batac, his hometown in Ilocos Norte.
The noontime rally was attended by some community leaders, human rights advocates, and Martial Law survivors. It was spearheaded by women leaders Ninotchka Rosca, Potri Ranka Manis, and Loida Nicolas Lewis. Consul Armand Talbo received the petition letter.
At the rally, Balthazar Pingel, a torture survivor from Mindanao said Marcos “can be buried anywhere they want to, but not at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, because we are opposed to the rehabilitation of one of the world’s most vicious dictators.”
Dictators aren’t heroes, the Marcoses should return their ill-gotten wealth, bury him in Ilocos are a few of the key messages in front of the Philippine Consulate here.
Marcos placed the Philippines under Martial Law in 1972 until 1981. In 1986, he was overthrown by a popular uprising facilitated by a military coup de tat.
During this regime, about 70,000 people were reportedly imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3240 killed. Marcos also amassed wealth during his rule which the Philippine government has not fully recovered. In his reign, Marcos increased foreign debt of the Philippines from $355 in 1962 to $28.3 billion in 1986.
Pres. Duterte said that burying Marcos at the national heroes cemetery would heal the entire nation which is currently divided. He also wanted to honor Marcos as a soldier.
Oppositionists however said that his burial will open the wounds of Martial Law victims. They said it will signal the consolidation of the Marcos power in Philippine politics. The Marcos medals during the WWII, they said, were fraudulent and absurd, quoting the US Veterans department as having discovered that these medals were fabricated.
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