FAST ONE

In a surprise ceremony, dictator Ferdinand Marcos was given a hasty hero’s burial in the Philippines

The Marcos family pulled a fast one on Filipinos this morning.

The remains of dictator Ferdinand Marcos were laid to rest at the Cemetery of the Heroes (Libingan ng mga Bayani), catching anti-Marcos protesters and the media off guard in Manila.

Marcos’s remains, which had been preserved for almost 30 years in a mausoleum in northern Philippines, was quietly transported by helicopter to the hallowed burial site reserved for military heroes for a “very simple and very fast ceremony,” chief superintendent Oscar Albayalde told CNN. The ceremony, punctuated by a 21-gun salute, was closed to the public and all media.

About 1,000 police officers were on standby to hold back protestors, Albayalde confirmed, and Marcos’s eldest daughter Imee, a governor, spearheaded the coordination for the snap reburial. After his death in exile in 1989, the Marcos family worked its way back into Philippine politics. In addition to Imee, his widow, Imelda, and son, Ferdinand Jr. (“Bongbong”), respectively serve as a representative and senator in congress.

Former Phlilippine first lady Imelda Marcos gestures as she speaks to reporters in Manila March 5, saying she was leaving up to the people and to God the decision on where to bury her late husband, Ferdinand Marcos. President Fidel Ramos has said the Marcos family was free to bury Marcos' corpse anywhere in Manila except in the Heroes Cemetery for soldiers. Marcos's preserved corpse now lies in a mausoleum in his hometown of Batac. A local power firm has cut electricity to the mausoleum because of unpaid electricity bills.
Imelda Marcos. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)

Honoring Marcos with a place in the cemetery has been a polarizing issue in the Philippines since president Rodrigo Duterte proposed the idea earlier this year. More than 75,000 cases of human rights violations are attributed to Marcos, who was ousted in 1986, during his bloody martial law regime from 1972 to 1981. The Philippine Supreme Court supported president Duterte’s resolve to honor the original strongman leader in a controversial Nov. 8 ruling.

According to the Philippine national police chief, Duterte knew that the Marcoses, who paid for the air transport of his remains, were planning to sneak the dictator’s body into the national cemetery today. But presidential spokesperson Marie Banaag later denied that the president had any prior knowledge of the burial’s scheduling. Duterte is on his way to Lima, Peru for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings.

“Once again, the Marcoses cheated the due process,” said lawyer Neri Colmenares who filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. “Thirty years ago, they disregarded due process and human rights and they’re doing it again,” he said on CNN.

An anti-Marcos demonstrator wears a mask during a rally, after the Supreme Court has allowed a hero's burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, Philippines November 8, 2016.  REUTERS/Czar Dancel - RTX2SGKX
#MarcosNOTaHero (Reuters/Czar Dancel)
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