By Cristina Arzadon | Inquirer Northern Luzon
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay said the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos has agreed to a proposal to have his remains buried in his home province of Ilocos Norte.
Binay made the statement in a press conference at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel on Tuesday in the presence of Marcos’ widow, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, who accompanied him for the launching of the government’s housing program in the region.
Mrs. Marcos did not confirm or deny Binay’s statement. The Marcos family has yet to issue a categorical statement on the matter.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos said in Manila the family has not agreed to anything because there has been no formal government proposal on it. But he added: “As long it is accompanied by full military and state honors, I am open to it.”
“Yun lamang ang aming pinaninindigan dito—ang kanyang honors as a president and as a soldier (That is the principle we are fighting for, that he be given due honors as a president and as a soldier).”
Binay discussed the Marcos burial issue in response to a question raised during the press conference. He stressed that he went to Ilocos Norte to lead a government housing caravan and the forum was not meant to be a venue for any announcement on Marcos’ burial.
He said discussions on Marcos’ burial place have been trimmed down to two issues.
“The main issue was [whether to have the burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani]. That became moot and academic because the burial place originated from [the late president] who made a wish to have his body buried at the Libingan,” Binay said.
“If [the Libingan burial] is not possible, then we have to consider the family’s wish. But the Marcos family has already agreed to have the burial in Ilocos Norte,” he added.
Binay had recommended Ilocos Norte as Marcos’ final resting place, citing the results of a survey he conducted earlier this year showing that Filipinos favor military honors for Marcos in his home province.
President Aquino earlier tasked Binay with recommending the best way to resolve the issue of Marcos’ burial.
Marcos’ relatives and supporters insisted on a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani while other groups opposed the move, saying Marcos, who ruled the country for 20 years, did not deserve the honor.
Marcos was ousted by a civilian-backed military uprising in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. His body was flown back to the country in 1993 and has since been preserved in a glass case inside a temperature-controlled mausoleum in the family’s compound in Batac City.
Binay, however, did not say whether he has formally sat down with the Marcoses to discuss the burial preparations.
“We will issue an official pronouncement on the matter in the coming days once we have ironed out the remaining details of the burial plans,” he said.
Mrs. Marcos later told reporters that the family has yet to discuss the final burial plans. “I leave the decision to God as to where Marcos should be buried,” she said.
Ilocos Norte officials, however, said the Marcos widow could be keeping her final decision on the burial place in time for the 94th birth anniversary of the late president next month.