Marcos supporters hold vigil as Supreme Court set to issue ruling on burial at heroes’ cemetery

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  • Hundreds of supporters led by the daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos gathered on Monday at the Philippine Supreme Court ahead of its much-awaited decision regarding a hero's burial for Marcos.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Hundreds of supporters led by the daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos gathered on Monday at the Philippine Supreme Court ahead of its much-awaited decision regarding a hero's burial for Marcos.

The justices are expected to hand down on Tuesday, October 18, or in the succeeding days, its ruling on a petition to stop the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday vowed to uphold the Supreme Court's decision.

"We will follow what the Supreme Court says for after all, it is the Supreme Court who interprets the law and decide which of the public interest is served among the contending parties,"  President Duterte said in the press briefing Sunday before leaving for his state visit to Brunei.

Appeal for favorable decision

Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos told her supporters that President Duterte passed by the provincial capital of Laoag on Friday as he changed planes on his way back from a visit to the typhoon-ravaged province of Batanes. 

She said Duterte reiterated to her his belief that Ferdinand Marcos deserved burial in the heroes' cemetery.

The Supreme Court stepped in following a petition filed last August by human rights groups and lawmakers opposing the burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The petition was prompted by a move by Duterte who gave military officials the go-signal in early August to proceed with plans for the heroes' burial for Marcos.

Victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime vehemently opposed the move, saying this was a mockery of the Philippines' struggle for democracy.

Related: Martial law victims: Marcos burial in heroes cemetery mocks our sacrifices

At the Sunday briefing before his departure for Brunei, Duterte maintained his position that "there is a law which grants Marcos a burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani."

"My position that as long as there is that law, it shall be followed," the president said.

But he emphasized that the court's ruling will be respected.

"I hope that the Supreme Court will decide not on the emotion. But of course, we know that it will be all legal at the end of the day. What the Supreme Court will rule must be followed," Duterte said.

Related: Duterte confirms Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

Marcos burial a contentious issue for years

The expected Supreme Court decision will put to rest the issue over a heroes' burial for Marcos, which has been a divisive issue for almost 25 years.

Marcos's remains are interred in an airconditioned mausoleum in Ilocos Norte since 1993.

Then-President Fidel Ramos allowed Marcos' widow, Imelda, to bring the body home. However, Ramos refused a heroes' burial for him.

Marcos died in exile in Hawaii on September 28, 1989, three and a half years after he was deposed by a popular uprising known as the People Power revolution.

People Power swept his opponent and the symbol of opposition to the Marcos dictatorship--the housewife Corazon Aquino--to the presidency from 1986 to 1992.

 

Following her death in 2009, her son Benigno Aquino III, won the elections and served as president from 2010 to 2016.

Aquino was succeeded by Duterte, who won the presidential elections in May.

"He (the late President Marcos) is qualified to be buried there. Kung ayaw ng ibang Pilipino, fine," Duterte said then. "Mag-demonstrate kayo, go ahead. You can use the streets," he added.

[Translation: ""He is qualified to be buried there. If other Filipinos don't want this, fine. You can demonstrate, go ahead. You can use the streets."]

Related: Marcos getting highest honors at Heroes' Cemetery burial

Padre Faura street where the Supreme Court is located was closed to traffic due to Marcos' supporters vigil. Hundreds of them, dressed in white and black t-shirts, had marched more than 450 kilometers from Paoay in Iocos Norte to join the vigil.

Motorists are warned against heavy traffic in the area.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ruth Cabal contributed to this report.