NEW YORK – A coalition of Filipino-American community groups and organizations gathered in front of the Philippine Consulate General in New York to protest plans of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to bury former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Community leaders, survivors of Martial Law atrocities and human rights advocates spoke out to denounce the president’s plan and asked him to reconsider and listen to the voice of the people.
Baltazar Pinguel, who came all the way Philadelphia, assailed the government’s plan to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Bal was imprisoned for five years and heavily tortured during the martial law years.
“The People Power revolution was a total rejection of Marcos. There should not be reason whatsoever to rethink about his burial,” Pinguel said. “He can be buried anywhere but not at the Libingan ng mga Bayani!”
The former dictator’s remains is in his family’s mausoleum in his hometown of Batac, Ilocos Norte. Duterte has said that burying the former president at the LNMB is the right thing to do because he was the country’s president and a bemedalled soldier.
The group chanted ‘Marcos is no hero, he killed Filipinos’ and carried placards that read ‘Marcos, Not a Hero,’ ‘Justice for the Martial Law Victims,’ ‘No to Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani’.
“Mr. Marcos does not deserve a hero’s burial because he is not a hero. Is taking 10 billion dollars as ill-gotten wealth, is that heroic? Is the common disregard for international human rights and due process leading to countless extra-judicial killings, is that heroic? I stand in solidarity for those who are expressing our discontent to President Duterte,” community organizer Steve Raga said.
“The sins of the Marcos family are not only sins of the past. We are suffering today, even unborn Filipinos already has a debt to pay because of the debt accumulated under the Marcos dictatorship,” said Berna Ellorin of Bayan USA. “We owe it to the youth to tell them our history. We cannot deny what happened in the past. The Marcos family is on a vicious campaign to rewrite history.”
Loida Lewis, representing US Pinoys for Good Governance read an open letter to President Duterte requesting him to reconsider his decision.
“To bury former president Ferdinand E. Marcos together with the nation’s heroes is an insult, an affront to the thousands of lives tortured and murdered during Marcos’ reign,” the petition letter said. “You said it will do away with division. To bury him there will create more division because that is an injustice to the victims of martial law.”
Lewis added that under Martial Law from 1972 to 1981, about 3,000 Filipinos were killed; 34,000 were tortured and 70,000 people were imprisoned.
After the program ended, Loida Lewis, along with author Ninotchka Rosca and Kinding Sindaw’s Potri Ranka Manis, presented the open letter to the Philippine government representative at the Philippine Center, Consul Arman Talbo.
The Kontra Libing Coalition is composed of several groups with branches all over the world which also staged similar protest rallies in front of their respective consulates and embassies.
The Kontra Libing Coalition issued a statement against the order of President Rodrigo Duterte for a hero’s burial for Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani “not because we harp on the past, but because we care about our country’s future.”
President Marcos is not a hero but a criminal, thus not deserving of a place in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and that a hero’s burial glosses over the crimes he committed against the Filipino people during the fourteen years he usurped power, the coalition statement further said.
“When a people power uprising finally booted him out of the country in 1986, he fled with an estimated $10 billion worth of plundered loot hidden worldwide. He left the economy in shambles, with $28 billion of external debt, an inflation rate of over 50percent, a 58.9 percent incidence of poverty, and a negative economic growth rate,” detailed the coalition statement.
“Marcos also dealt brutally with those who opposed his one-man rule. Amnesty International estimates the number of opponents killed by the Marcos dictatorship at 3,240, raped and tortured at 34,000, and number imprisoned at 70,000.”