'Marcos was no hero', say Filipino protesters marking 5th burial anniversary

Philippine activists and martial law victims raise their fists and placards during a protest to mark the anniversary of the heroes burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose son has emerged as an early frontrunner in the 2022 elections, outside the National Heroes' Cemetery in Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines on Nov 18, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

Philippine activists held a protest on Thursday (Nov 18) to mark the anniversary of the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose son has emerged as an early front runner in the presidential race next year.

"We are here to inform the people that Marcos was no hero. He was a dictator," said human rights lawyer and former lawmaker, Neri Colmenares, who had been tortured and jailed during the 14-year martial rule.

Philippine dictator's son Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jnr runs for president, sparking anger from his father's victims.

Colmenares and at least a hundred other protesters stood at the entrance of a cemetery for national heroes, shouting "Never again, never again to martial law", while carrying placards and banners, some including the words "Marcos hindi bayani" (Marcos is no hero).

The protesters staged a caravan that ended at the cemetery in the capital, Manila, where five years ago Marcos was buried with military honours, more than 30 years after his 1989 death in Hawaii.

Many in the Philippines were angered by the way Marcos's family had kept the timing of the burial secret.

Filipino activists during a Manila protest on Thursday marking the 5th anniversary of the “hero” burial given to dictator Ferdinand Marcos. PHOTO: Reuters

"We hope our message will reverberate throughout the nation, because another Marcos is wanting to go back to Malacanang (presidential palace)," Colmenares said, referring to the only son and namesake of the late dictator who is running for president in next year's election.

Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jnr wants to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte, whose single six-year term ends next year. Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president's popular daughter, will be his running mate.

The Marcos family is among the country's most famous dynasties and despite its fall from grace, it has retained far-reaching and powerful political connections.

During martial law, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed, according to data from Amnesty International.

Thousands of victims were paid compensation using millions from Marcos' Swiss bank accounts recovered by government.

READ MORE: Philippines group seeks to bar Marcos from presidency over tax evasion