MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Thousands of Filipino protesters returned Wednesday to the site of a 1986 revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, this time to condemn his burial at a heroes’ cemetery.
Police said at least 3,000 people gathered at the “People Power” monument along the main EDSA highway in metropolitan Manila, chanting “Dig him up.” Protesters held up pro-democracy placards, including one that read, “Keep calm and democracy will die.”
Millions gathered three decades ago at the site just outside the main military and police camps in a largely peaceful uprising to oust Marcos, ending a presidency marked by massive corruption and human rights violations.
Wednesday’s protest was the latest in a growing political storm following the Nov. 18 burial, which was allowed by President Rodrigo Duterte and upheld by the Supreme Court amid protests by anti-Marcos groups.
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The rally speakers included Maria Serena Diokno, who resigned Tuesday as head of the government’s historical commission to protest the burial.
“We should never forget our history,” Diokno said. “We won’t allow even a part of the dictatorship to return.”
A few thousand activists gathered separately last week in a “Black Friday” protest at Manila’s seaside Rizal Park, where they carried Marcos’ effigy in a mock coffin.
Duterte, whose father served in Marcos’s Cabinet, allowed the burial on grounds that there was no law barring his interment at the Heroes’ Cemetery, where presidents, soldiers, statesmen and national artists are buried. It was a political risk in a country where democracy advocates still celebrate Marcos’s ouster each year.
Duterte’s decision was upheld earlier this month by the Supreme Court. Marcos opponents had 15 days to appeal the decision, but Marcos’s family, backed by Duterte’s defense and military officials, buried him in a secrecy-shrouded ceremony with military honors at the cemetery.
The stealthy burial enraged democracy advocates and sparked protests in Manila and other cities, including in southern Davao city, the president’s hometown.