Hero or dictator? Philippines court postpones decision on Marcos burial

Story highlights

Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines as dictator for decades

Current President Rodrigo Duterte wants him buried in the national heroes' cemetery

CNN  — 

The Philippines’ top court has postponed a decision on whether to grant former dictator Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial.

A ruling was expected this week, but the Supreme Court said Tuesday that the case will be extended to November 8.

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

“(This issue) must be taken out of limbo,” said Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which brought a case objecting to the burial.

“Let the sleeping dog lie as is. Incorrigible dictatorship, insatiable greed and inebriated lust for power do not a hero make.”

Marcos died in exile in 1989. Since 2015, his body has been on display in his family stronghold of Ilocos Norte in the northwest Philippines.

In August, President Rodrigo Duterte announced plans to re-inter the former dictator in the National Heroes’ Cemetery in Manila, sparking outrage from victims of the Marcos regime and civil society groups.

‘Not a hero’: Hundreds protest burial plan for former Filipino dictator

‘Public interest’

On Sunday, Duterte said he hoped the court decides “not on emotion” but on “the public interest,” and vowed to abide by the ruling.

“We are hopeful that the court will see our way,” said Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which filed the case objecting to the burial.

“(The court should) reaffirm the historical reality that Marcos, the fascist dictator and plunderer par excellence, was no hero but a legendary heel.”

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition objecting to the re-internment, and thousands are expected to protest a decision in favor of the burial.

Supporters of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos demonstrate in Manila.

‘Opportunity for healing’

Imee Marcos speaks at a pro-Marcos rally in Manila on Monday.

Marcos fled the Philippines after a revolution in 1986 ended his decades as dictator. Many young Filipinos have little or no knowledge of Marcos and martial law and recent years have seen his family re-emerge on the political scene.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. narrowly lost the election for Vice President of the Philippines this year by just 0.64%.

The late dictator’s widow, Imelda Marcos, has been elected four times to the House of Representatives, despite ongoing controversies over the huge sums of money she and her husband plundered from the country. In February, the government approved the sale of $21 million worth of Marcos’ “ill-gotten” jewelry collection.

Imelda and Ferdinand’s daughter Imee Marcos has been governor of Ilocos Norte since 2010. She addressed the rally outside the Supreme Court Monday.

“We are pleading for the Supreme Court to open their hearts and minds to the truth that this is an opportunity to erase the hatred, conflicts and discord in our society,” she said.

“The healing presidency of President Duterte will take over and we as one nation will be great again.”