Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos can be buried at a heroes’ cemetery, the Supreme Court decided Tuesday in a ruling opponents say rolled back the democratic triumph when Filipinos ousted the strongman in a “people power” revolt three decades ago.
Court spokesman Theodore Te said the 15-member court voted 9-5 with one abstention to dismiss petitions opposing President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of Marcos’s burial at the cemetery, where ex-presidents, soldiers and national artists have been laid to rest.
Hundreds of pro-Marcos supporters celebrated, some weeping and other waving Philippine flags. Anti-Marcos activists were outraged, including petitioners, who vowed to ask the court to reconsider. Riot police stood between the opposing groups rallying outside the court.
“We are disappointed. We are heartbroken. We are outraged,” a coalition of nearly 40 groups opposed to Marcos’s burial at the cemetery said in a joint statement. “With this decision, the very definition of hero is now in question.”
The dictator’s son and namesake, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong Marcos Jr. thanked the high court for taking “a magnanimous act to uphold the rule of law” and expresssed his gratitude to Duterte.
“It is our sincerest hope that this will lead the nation towards healing,” Marcos Jr. said after decades of discord over the burial of his father.
Burying a dictator accused of massive rights violations and corruption at the heroes’ cemetery has long been an emotional and divisive issue in the Philippines, where Marcos was ousted by a “people power” revolt in 1986. He flew to Hawaii, where he lived with his wife and children in exile until he died in 1989.
His body was flown back to his hometown in 1993, where it has been displayed in a glass coffin. But his family wants his remains transferred to the heroes’ cemetery.