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Family members and followers of President Ferdinand E. Marcos gathered for a vigil at his tomb yesterday, a day after his secrecy-shrouded burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City triggered widespread protests three decades following his ouster.
Marcos’ widow Imelda, clad in black, thanked supporters and local officials who traveled by bus from Marcos’ northern home province of Ilocos Norte to pay their respects. She said they had given her family strength as they kept the hope for nearly 30 years to have him buried at the national cemetery, which is reserved for former presidents, national artists, and soldiers.
Thousands of pro-democracy activists who rallied in Manila on Friday say the decades-long debate over the ex-President’s final resting place was far from over and they were planning more protests in the days and weeks ahead.
The National Capital Region Police Office is gearing for more and even bigger protest actions in the coming days following the surprise burial of President Marcos.
Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde, NCRPO director, said they will tolerate mass actions in usual protest action sites in Metro Manila such as the People Power Monument and EDSA Shrine provided that they would be done in peaceful and orderly way.
“Rallies in these places can be tolerated as we respect the freedom of assembly, provided that protests would be conducted peacefully and orderly,” said Albayalde.
Various anti-Marcos groups said that they would not stop protest actions until the body of President Marcos is exhumed and removed from the LNMB.
Albayalde advised organizers of protest actions to obtain permits from the local government units concerned.
“Under Batasang Pambansa 880, mayors are required to assign public spaces where people can freely protest,” said Albayalde. “Without designation from mayors, all parks will be deemed freedom park in the city,” he added.
As of yesterday, Albayalde said they have not monitored any anti-Marcos rallies in Metro Manila. But he said they are prepared should there be any in the coming days.
“We have not monitored any anti-Marcos rally. However, in any protests, we will exercise maximum tolerance,” said Albayalde.
Albayalde said security inside the LNMB will be handled by the Philippine Army, being the caretaker of the burial site. “They have rules inside. I don’t think they will just allow anybody to go inside,” said the NCRPO chief.
President Duterte, who gave the go-ahead for the burial, appealed for calm.
“I know Ferdinand will at last be at rest here at the Heroes’ Cemetery,” Imelda said in front of a black tomb surrounded by wreaths of white flowers. “But I know we still have a lot of criticisms to face.”
Her daughter, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, and son, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., also thanked supporters and apologized for keeping the burial secret. He said there were reports that anti-Marcos groups would create trouble.
The burial threatens to open old wounds in the Philippines, where Marcos is accused of massive human rights violations and corruption under martial law he had placed the country during half of his 20-year iron-fist rule.
He was ousted in a “People Power” street protest in 1986 that sent him and his family into exile in Hawaii, where he died three years later. (Aaron B. Recuenco and AP)