Duterte firm on Marcos burial at Heroes' Cemetery

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – President Rodrigo Duterte stands firm - late dictator Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).

Speaking to reporters before leaving for Thailand and Malaysia Wednesday, Duterte said the law allows Marcos' interment at the LNMB because he was a former soldier and president.

"As a lawyer, I stick by what the law says," Duterte said.

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

Human rights groups and some top government officials protested the Supreme Court's 9-5 ruling allowing Marcos' burial at the LNMB.

Senate President Koko Pimentel on Tuesday said he will urge Duterte to rethink and try to stop the high court's decision. But Duterte said: "I don't have the sole power of the changing fortunes of this country."

"It has to be based on the law," he added.

The Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City was established in 1947 to pay tribute to Filipino soldiers and fallen heroes, and to serve as a final resting place for former Philippine presidents, war veterans, notable government statesmen, dignitaries and national artists.

LOOK: 'Libingan ng mga Bayani at Isang Magnanakaw' on Google Maps

Asked if he considers Marcos a hero, Duterte said "it depends on the beholder." He said the Ilocanos, for instance, believe Marcos did nothing wrong.

"The question on this tussle about the dictatorship of Marcos is something which cannot be determined at this time. That part of the sins of Marcos has yet to be proven by a competent court," Duterte said.

President Marcos, whose two-decade rule was ended by a people power revolt that ousted him in 1986, died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. His remains were brought back to the country in 1993 and has since been kept in an air-conditioned crypt at the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Batac, his hometown in Ilocos Norte.

Earlier in May, Duterte told reporters that he will allow Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani "not because he is a hero … but because he was a Filipino soldier."

'Marcos not a hero'

But former Commission of Human Rights (CHR) chairman Etta Rosales said burying Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery will make him a hero.

"You bury him in a hero's cemetery, then he becomes a hero because this is done by jurisprudence, by the Korte Suprema (Supreme Court), by the chief executive," Rosales told CNN Philippines' The Source. 

A victim of human rights abuses during Martial Law herself, Rosales slammed the SC ruling, saying the only gains from the decision would be for the Marcos family.

She said the Marcoses did not need "healing" as they were not tortured and their loved ones were not killed during Martial Law.

 "All they want is to revise history," Rosales said. "You know the family of Marcos would not have kept their father afloat for 27 years if they did not have agenda."

Also read: SC decision on Marcos burial a betrayal of Filipinos, ex-CHR chair says