Filipinos protest former dictator hero’s burial.

The progressive social movement is up in arms over the sneaky burial of Philippine's former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

TWHA partners (Gabriela, Council for Health and Development, Advocates for Community Health and Ibon Foundation) joined thousands of people across the Philippines who took to the streets on November 25 to protest the burial of former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the National Heroes' Cemetery.

In Manila, about 15,000 protesters gathered at Rizal Park (national park) despite steady downpour and slew of online attacks that attempted to discredit the protests organized by groups belonging to the progressive social movement. Similar rallies were held in more than 30 key cities and municipalities all over the country.

Marcos was buried last November 18 in a sneaky and closely guarded ceremony to evade the growing outrage of the citizens over President Duterte’s decision to allow the Marcos family to bury the dictator at the heroes’ cemetery and the recent Supreme Court ruling assenting to the President’s decision. The ceremony was closed to the public and all media. Around 1,000 policemen posted around the cemetery to prevent any protesters from disrupting the ceremony. The military, meanwhile, honored the dictator by performing a 21 gun salute.

Martial Law

President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972 and ruled the country with an iron fist for 21 years until he was toppled by a popular demonstration, called People Power, in 1986 and, together with his family, was exiled to Hawaii where he died in 1989. He left a country reeling in poverty as he plundered up to $10 billion dollars from state coffers during his rule. He was widely known as one of the world’s greatest thieves. His rule was also marked by massive human rights violations: about 70,000 were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, 3,240 killed and 800 disappeared.

In 1991, then President Corazon Aquino, allowed Marcos wife Imelda Marcos to return to the Philippines to face charges of graft and tax evasion which she was able to evade due to corrupt and dysfunctional justice system. She even ran for President in 1992 elections but lost.

In 1993, then President Fidel Ramos, Marcos cousin, lifted the ban on the return of Marcos’ body but objected to giving Marcos a state burial. Before his burial at the national heroes’ cemetery, his body was displayed inside a refrigerated, vacuum-sealed glass coffin at the family mausoleum in his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Imelda and their children have since regained political power. Imelda is now the representative of her husband’s province while Aimee, the oldest of the three children, is its governor. Marcos’ son and namesake served as senator for six years before narrowly losing the vice presidential post in the recent elections.

In a speech last October, Duterte formally declared his decision to allow Marcos burial at the national heroes’ cemetery openly admitting it as a payback for the campaign contribution he received from the Marcos family.


The protest gathered together the older generation of activists who directly fought against the dictatorship of Marcos and the millennials (today's generation) composed mostly of students who marched from their respective schools and campuses and joined the veteran activists in chanting Marcos, Hitler! Diktador (dictator)! Tuta (lapdog of US)!, the slogan commonly chanted by street demonstrators during Martial Law to condemn the US-backed Marcos dictatorship.

These millennials became the object of online attacks claiming that they were being used and misled by those who oppose the Marcos burial.

A student leader refuted the accusation as he delivered his message before the huge crowd: “We are not here because we are being used or made to believe that Marcos cannot be a hero, we are here because we know our history. We are here to hold Marcos responsible for what happened to our country. We say to those who rant against us, we, the youth, are the ones directly bearing the result of Marcos plunder of our country. We were robbed of a prosperous and decent nation!”


The progressive social movement, however, clarified that the protest was not meant to break away from its alliance with President Duterte but vowed to become more critical of the President.

“Our principled alliance with the Duterte administration is not predicated on one single issue or program alone. We held protest actions, filed resolutions in Congress and sued the Duterte administration to stop the Marcos hero’s burial. We will continue to oppose President Duterte and the Supreme Court ruling favoring the Marcoses. This, despite our alliance with his administration on other pro-people and patriotic policies and program.

“We supported Pres. Duterte knowing fully well of his unprogressive pronouncements and programs, which we will continue to constructively engage with him.”

The progressive social movement’s support for Duterte include his independent foreign policy, assertion of sovereignty, the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the release of political prisoners, the appointment of progressives in his cabinet, and implementation of measures beneficial to the people such a land reform, social services and so on.

Meanwhile, differences with Duterte included his stand on the Marcos burial, the conduct of the war on drugs and the neoliberal economic policies being carried over from the previous regime.#

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