Rains fail to dampen fervor of protests against hurried Marcos burial
Critics of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. braved rains on Friday in a protest over what they described as the sneaky burial of the former dictator's remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last week.
Clad in dark shirts in accordance with Black Friday Protests, representatives from militant groups, students, survivors of Marcos' iron-fist rule and ordinary people gathered at Luneta Park in Manila Friday afternoon, carrying placards expressing disgust against the man they accused of atrocities during his regime
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary general Renato Reyes said Marcos' burial is a blessing in disguise as it has roused the public from its slumber.
"I think this is the first time in the last 30 years there was their kind of outrage since EDSA 1," Reyes told Daily Manila Shimbun in a brief interview, referring to the bloodless EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.
What they could not accept is why the Duterte administration allowed the burial of a person who proclaimed Martial Law, a dark chapter of the country's history which left around 3,000 people dead, at the national heroes cemetery in Taguig City .
Among those present are former Senators Wigberto Tanada and Rene Saguisag, former party-list representatives Neri Colmenares and Satur Ocampo. Marcos was buried last Friday, November 18 after the Supreme Court voted 9-5 in favor of his burial at the Heroes Cemetery .
The burial of Marcos, who died in 1989, angered critics as there was no prior announcement from the government about the interment and no final resolution from the high tribunal.
They also scored President Rodrigo Duterte supporting Marcos' burial, as they chanted: "Duterte, Duterte, Marcos is no hero."
Reyes said approximately 15,000 people joined the demonstration at the Quirno Grandstand despite the rainy weather.
"We are hoping we can sustain this movement.," said Reyes.
The National Capital Region Police Office gave a much lesser crowd estimate. Chief Inspector Kimberly Molitas, NCRPO spokesperson, said only 1,500 people were present at the rally as of 6 pm
They have not monitored demonstrations in other parts of Metro Manila, Molitas said, noting the event was generally peaceful.
In a forum at the Ateneo, historian Ambeth Ocampo, asked by a student why Filipinos have forgiven the Japanese but not the Marcoses, Ocampo said while Japan has not officially apologized for the atrocities during the war, but it did in another way.
He said when Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Manila in January and they visited the heroes cemetery, they bowed “exceptionally low and exceptionally long.” Ocampo showed they were sorry through action. “That’s the big difference,” he said, noting that the Marcoses have yet to say sorry.
Some protesters belong to the younger generation. Among them is Joy Asueno, a 17-year-old student at the University of the Philippines Manila campus.
In a brief interview, Asueno said she joined the protest to show millennials are aware of Marcos' sins to Filipinos.
"While we did not actually experience Martial Law, we are aware of its history," she said.
One of the highlights of the activity is a skit done by comedian Mae Paner who, dressed
as Imelda Marcos, lambasted the demonstrators while showing "love" for her husband.
She kissed an effigy of Marcos in casket and holding bags with Peso signs, a symbol of the former chief executive's corruption.
Another highlight is when the protesters destroyed a large mural of Marcos before the media.
However, not all protesters were against Marcos' burial.
Across Roxas Boulevard in front of Rizal Monument , about 40 members of the group Duterte Youth expressed support for the President and Marcos.
Duterte Youth chairman Ronald Cardena, 31, said in an interview: "We want to show that not all people in the country are angry at Duterte and Marcos."
He slammed militants for criticizing Duterte while their leaders are members of Duterte's Cabinet.
"They are thick-skinned. Their leaders are in government but they are backstabbing our leader," said Cardena, referring to Duterte.
Among the progressives in Duterte's Cabinet are Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and National Anti-Poverty Commission Chairperson Liza Maza
He defended Marcos' record, saying while atrocities occurred during Marcos' presidency, it was the former leader's generals were at fault.
"He was only the chief policy maker. He wanted to get rid of communists and secessionists. The people who implemented the atrocities were his generals," said Cardena.
"Why don't they file cases against these generals instead of pinning the blame solely on Marcos."
Sought for comment, Reyes declined to give any statement as doing so would just give importance to Cardena's group. Emmanuel Tupas/ Celerina MonteDMS