The Philippine Congress must decide whether late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is buried in a heroes’ cemetery, the ex-president said yesterday.
Fidel Ramos’ remarks appeared to contradict the controversial decision of firebrand leader Rodrigo Duterte to allow Marcos, who has been accused of massive corruption and human rights abuses, to be buried in the Heroes Cemetery despite a widespread outcry.
“I said officially, let the people decide. Who are the people? Our representatives and senators now sitting in Congress,” said Ramos, who served in the military under Marcos until turning on him in 1986.
He suggested that elected lawmakers issue a resolution about Marcos’ burial, saying it would reflect the will of the people.
Duterte, who openly boasts of his alliance with the Marcos family, has said Marcos deserves burial in the special cemetery because he was a soldier and a president, regardless of any misdeeds.
Marcos ruled the country for 21 years, mostly under martial law, and he and his family looted state coffers and ruthlessly suppressed dissent.
But a popular revolt, helped by Ramos, toppled Marcos from power and sent him and his family fleeing into exile in Hawaii where he died in 1989.
For his role in ousting Marcos, Ramos was appointed defence chief and later elected president, serving from 1992 to 1998.
He is influential with Duterte, having helped him get elected president in May.
But the country’s National Historical Institute has questioned Marcos’ war claims and activist groups say burying him in the cemetery would whitewash his crimes.
The Marcos family, which has made a remarkable political comeback in recent years, has kept the preserved body of their patriarch on display in their hometown in the northern Philippines but have insisted that it deserves burial with honours in the Heroes’ Cemetery in a Manila suburb.
However, a former Ramos official, then-interior secretary Rafael Alunan, recalled that during the Ramos administration, Imelda Marcos agreed to have her husband’s body buried in their hometown, not in the Heroes’ Cemetery.
“We said that because the burial will have to be done there, will be no burial in the Heroes’ Cemetery,” Alunan said.
Alunan told reporters he did not know if the accord could be considered legally binding but remarked: “I would think that because the agreement is still in force, then both sides should honour it.”
Representatives for the Marcos family could not be contacted for comment.
A group representing former detainees under the late dictator said yesterday they would file a petition with the Supreme Court to stop the burial.
“Marcos is no hero. He was a mass murderer, torturer and a plunderer. To confer national honours to Marcos is a defilement of the people’s historic struggle against the tyranny of martial law,” the group said.
Former Philippine president Fidel Ramos (centre) does 10 push-ups after a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Manila yesterday.