Saturday, June 18, 2011

Malacañang says no hero's burial for Marcos

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino has ruled out burying the frozen remains of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Manila's cemetery for national heroes, a government spokeswoman said Saturday.

Local reports this month said Vice-President Jejomar Binay had recommended Aquino allow Marcos' body, which is contained in a glass crypt in his provincial stronghold, to be buried at the cemetery with full military honors.

"President Aquino is clear on the issue, that there will be no heroes' cemetery burial (for Marcos' remains)," presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told government radio, referring to a military cemetery in Manila where some of the Philippines' past leaders are interred.

Aquino, whose parents were democracy icons who fought the Marcos rule, is also expected to soon decide whether the dictator's body would be accorded military honors, Valte said.

Marcos declared martial law in 1972, near the end of his second and final 4-year term, and ruled as a dictator until a popular revolt toppled him from power in 1986 forcing him into exile in Hawaii, where he died in 1989.

Thousands of political opponents went missing or were killed under his regime, and his family was accused of plundering up to $10 billion from the nation -- according to one government estimate.

Valte said Aquino had ordered aides to check official records on whether Marcos' remains had already been accorded military honors when they were brought back from Hawaii.

"That's the only thing left to resolve, since, if it turns out that he had been accorded military honors, there is no more reason for him to get another," Valte said.

Marcos' flamboyant widow, Imelda Marcos, and 3 children returned home after his death, and have since regained political influence.

She won a seat in the House of Representatives last year, while her son Marcos Jr. has hinted that he may run for president in 2016 after cruising to a Senate post last year.

Both have been leading calls to have the Marcos patriarch buried at Manila's heroes' cemetery, saying he was a legitimate World War II hero who had won over 2 dozen medals fighting against the Japanese occupation.

American and local historians however have disputed the authenticity of the medals.

Torture victims of the brutal Marcos regime have been outraged by the reported plans to bury the strongman with full military honors.

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