Duterte denies restoring Marcoses back in Malacanang
President Rodrigo Duterte denied on Wednesday there was an effort from his part to bring the Marcoses back to Malacanang as claimed by those opposing the burial of late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, or national heroes cemetery.
"I don’t have anything to put the Marcoses back. I never said it and I will not," Duterte said.
Some students who expressed rage against Marcos' burial at the national cemetery aired that the recent development could be a step to the return of the Marcoses in Malacanang.
Duterte reiterated his position why he allowed Marcos to be buried at the heroes cemetery and challenged critics to prove Marcos was not a president nor a soldier.
"While I was in Lima, I also understand that there were plans to greet my return with protests over the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani," Duterte said.
"To all the protest organizations, let me throw this simple proposition to you: I will gladly and happy even to step down and relinquish my post if you can answer in the negative these two key questions: Was the late Ferdinand Marcos a President and was he a soldier?"
"Was Marcos a soldier? Because if he was not, he doesn’t deserve to be there. Was Marcos a president? If he was not, then he should not be there. Was Marcos a coward during the war? That is not my business. We cannot tell."
Declaring a "Black Friday Protest," several groups are set to hold rallies on Friday in Luneta, Manila and other parts of the country to protest the "surreptitious" burying of Marcos' remains at the heroes cemetery.
While Duterte posed a challenge to protesters, he said he would allow them to conduct their rallies even without a permits.
He even ordered the military and the police to back off from rallies, except for those who would ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
"Let me assure you that while protest actions are being staged, our military forces will remain and be confined in their camps. They are restricted to be there in their proper places. We shall also keep a lean number of police personnel. Their role shall be limited to traffic enforcement and the basic policy standards. They are prohibited from carrying long firearms," he said.
"Protest action shall be allowed in all open public places for as long as they want with no time limit. The protesters will neither need to secure rally permits in fear of being evicted," he added.
Duterte said securing permits is a legal exercise, but because the protesters are travelling from one jurisdiction to the other, they would not need to get permits.
"I will answer for all legal issues there. The purpose is to assure the public peace. To paraphrase what was said: I may not agree with what you say but I will protect your right to say it. That is our democracy. As your President, you have my word and you have that commitment," he said.
Duterte said he might expand the mandate of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), whose function is to go after the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies during their 21-year in office.
"What I say the PCGG is limited to the Marcos wealth. But I want it broadened and with more power," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS