World Bulletin / News Desk
The Philippines’ president has defended a decision to bury a controversial predecessor in the country's Heroes' Cemetery, saying he is simply following the law.
The country's Supreme Court struck down petitions Tuesday barring former dictator Ferdinand Marcos from being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani cemetery.
Duterte -- speaking at a brief press conference before flying to Thailand and Malaysia on a state visit Wednesday -- said that the order to bury Marcos at the cemetery was in accord with written legislation that determined “soldiers and ex-presidents, those who have died, you will be buried there”.
“Now the question about the dictatorship of Marcos is something that cannot be determined at this time,” he said. “It has to have history.”
The decision has angered victims of Marcos' purges and rights groups, who have argued that only those who serve as an inspiration and as models for emulation can be buried at the cemetery.
According to human rights groups, Marcos’ dictatorship saw thousands of people murdered, tortured and jailed, and the Philippines' finances looted.
Duterte, however, claimed Wednesday that the allegations are “yet to be proven by a competent court”.
He called events surrounding the rise and fall of the dictatorship "a political fight initially that turned sour because of the power struggle of the ruling political families in this country.”
This, he underlined, “deteriorated into something almost like a revolution”.
“But as far as the right and privilege to be buried at Heroes' Cemetery, I simply follow the law... There is nothing we can do about that.”
Petitions to block the burial were filed soon after Duterte announced that he would allow the interment, as Marcos -- whose remains have been held in a refrigerated crypt since his family returned from exile in Hawaii in the early 1990s -- was a former president and a soldier.
The court ruled Tuesday that Duterte had not committed "grave abuse of discretion" in ordering the interment, junking all petitions with a vote of 9-5.
It maintained that no law prohibits Marcos’ burial at the cemetery, and that Duterte had “acted within the bounds of law and jurisprudence”.
Human rights lawyers have called on colleagues, law students and bar candidates to wear black at a university bar examination Sunday to protest Tuesday’s decision.
TV5's Interaksyon Online quoted former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, chairman of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, as saying the action was “a sign of mourning for the demise of the rule of justice”.
He blasted the court's decision, saying it paved the way for a hero’s burial for someone “who exploited the law to legitimize tyranny, plunder and autocracy”.Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2016, 10:23