VP, senators disappointed and sad as Supreme Court allows burial in hero's cemetery for Marcos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Top government officials and lawmakers expressed disappointment and frustration Tuesday over the high court's decision to allow the burial of a "reviled dictator" at the heroes' cemetery.

In a widely anticipated and controversial landmark ruling, the Supreme Court voted 9-5 to reject petitions blocking the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Senator Kiko Pangilinan called the decision "shameful and deplorable."

"We kicked out a reviled dictator and now we are honoring him by burying him in our national heroes cemetery. No less than our Supreme Court wants our citizens, our children to honor a plunderer and tyrant," he said in a statement.

Watch: Libingan ng mga Bayani: Who deserves a hero's burial?

Vice President Leni Robredo, who was "saddened by the decision," said the ruling may "pass the bar of legal technicality" but it "can never be consistent with morality and the spirit of the Filipino People Power revolution."

The People Power Revolution in February 1986 was a bloodless, peaceful four-day revolt that led to the end of Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorship. His 21-year-rule included nine years under Martial Law, where thousands of his opponents were tortured, imprisoned, or killed.

Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 but his widow Imelda was allowed to bring his body home in 1993. However, a burial at the heroes' cemetery was not allowed by then-President Fidel Ramos, one of the key figures who led the People Power revolution.

The petitions forwarded by human rights victims under Marcos' rule had hoped the Supreme Court would prevent the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, on grounds that he was not fit to be accorded such an honor. 

Read: Petitioners to protest if hero's burial for Marcos approved

Senator Bam Aquino said the court's decision must be respected, and he expressed sympathy for the human rights victims.

"My heart goes out to the thousands of victims during the darkest years in Philippine history," Aquino said in a statement.

Senator Aquino is nephew of the late Corazon Aquino who was the symbol of opposition to the Marcos dictatorship and was swept into the presidency by the People Power revolution.

He vowed to pursue his work with the Education Department "to ensure that the truth about Martial Law is effectively taught in our schools."


Senator Risa Hontiveros, then a student activist during Marcos' rule, called on Filipinos to be vigilant against "historical revisionism."

"The high tribunal has failed to protect the truth from the Marcoses' fictional universe," she said in a statement.

While the Supreme Court has "miserably failed the test of history and broken our hearts," Hontiveros held out hope that the decision was not final since it is not executory.

She called on President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his decision to allow Marcos' burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

"President Duterte is at a critical juncture in history. He could either stand up for truth and justice or submit himself as an instrument to the dictator family's desperate attempt to rewrite history and clear their name. I urge the President to choose well," she said.

Duterte's move to allow the burial was to hasten national reconciliation and fulfil a campaign promise to the Marcos family. His move prompted the petitions to the Supreme Court which heard arguments and deliberated for two months on this long-divisive issue.