Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday he would not allow any form of state honour for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, amid a push by the late ruler’s family to rehabilitate his image.
Sanctioning a state burial or any government honours for Marcos, who ruled the country for 20 years, including nine by martial law, would dishonour the memory of those who died or suffered fighting the dictatorship, Aquino said.
“I am not sanctioning a (state) burial under my watch for the late president Marcos. It sends the wrong message,” Aquino told reporters.
“It really would be, I think, the height of injustice to confer any honours.”
Both of the current president’s parents were democracy icons and his father, also named Benigno Aquino, was assassinated by Marcos security forces at Manila airport in 1983.
He was among thousands of political opponents who went missing or were killed under the regime, and the dictator’s family was accused of plundering up to $10 billion from the nation according to one government estimate.
Successive governments have launched an array of lawsuits and other legal efforts to recover the funds, but they have largely failed and no member of the Marcos family has gone to jail.
When Marcos was toppled, he and his family fled into exile in Hawaii, where he died in 1989.
Marcos’ wife and children returned to the Philippines after his death and have since regained political influence.
Marcos’s embalmed body is now stored in a crypt at the family home and his family has been leading calls to have him buried at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery.
While such a burial would help rehabilitate his image politically, his family argue he deserves the honour because they say he was a World War II hero who won many medals fighting the Japanese occupation.
American and local historians have disputed the authenticity of the medals, while human rights victims have expressed outrage over the burial proposals.
The dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, now a senator with presidential ambitions, accused Aquino of deceiving the family in an interview with local press.
He said it was “very hard to deal in good faith,” with Aquino, in transcripts released by his office.
“That is why for me, he has wasted a very good opportunity to unify the nation,” he said, adding that the family did not have any immediate plans to move his father’s remains from its current location.
The current president’s mother Corazon Aquino took over from her dead husband to lead the popular revolt that swept aside Marcos, and she then served as president for six years.