Duterte unafraid by protests
PRESIDENT Duterte is unperturbed by opposition to his decision allowing the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani, Malacañang said on Sunday.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Palace would refer all legal questions surrounding the issue to Mr. Duterte’s chief legal adviser, Salvador Panelo. “It’s up to him to make the recommendation to the President,” Andanar told the Inquirer in a phone interview. Panelo has said that the regulation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines allowing the burial of former soldiers and Presidents at Libingan “does not distinguish if the president is good or bad.”
He said the government would block all legal remedies against the President’s decision. In a separate statement, Andanar reiterated Mr. Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that he would let the Marcos family bury the remains of the deposed strongman in the special cemetery intended for war heroes and former Presidents. “The President’s stance, however, remains firm: There is clarity in the regulations governing the late President Marcos’ burial,” the Palace official said.
“The President shall, therefore, remain undistracted and it shall be governance as usual with his full and undivided attention in winning the war against drugs, criminality and corruption,” he added.
Andanar said Mr. Duterte, who had publicly declared his admiration for the late dictator, also recognized the right of those criticizing his decision, stressing that the President would not bar them from holding protest rallies. “This is consistent with his philosophy that criticism, good or bad, true or not, is part of the territory of governance in public,” he said. Andanar said he would ask House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for his comment regarding the claim of former President Fidel Ramos that Marcos’ burial should have the concurrence of Congress.
The Palace, he said, has yet to get an official copy of the agreement between the Ramos administration and the Marcos family, which allowed the burial of Marcos in Ilocos Norte province as one of the conditions for the return of his remains from Hawaii in 1992.
He said the copy of the 1992 agreement would be given to Panelo for his appraisal. Asked if Malacañang would review the agreement, Andanar said: “I cannot say if it’s a review because that would mean we’re concurring with it.” On several occasions, Mr. Duterte said Marcos’ burial would allow the country to “move on,” maintaining that the martial law ruler had the right to be laid to rest at Libingan since he served as a soldier and was elected president.