Aquino leads rite to rebury president at heroes cemetery

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — President Benigno Aquino III led ceremonies Monday to transfer the remains of a long-dead president to a Philippine heroes’ cemetery where he has steadfastly refused to allow the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The national tribute included a 21-gun salute and a funeral motorcade for President Elpidio Quirino, whose remains were reinterred from a Manila graveyard to the cemetery reserved for presidents, war veterans, statesmen and national artists.

Quirino was president from 1948 to 1953 and oversaw Philippine reconstruction after World War II. He died 60 years ago and is the third president to be buried in the heroes’ cemetery, which opened in the 1940s as a burial site for Filipino war dead.

Aquino has refused to allow the burial there of Marcos, who was overthrown in a 1986 “people power” revolt after a two-decade reign tarnished by allegations of massive human rights violations and plunder.

Marcos lived in exile with his wife, Imelda, and children in Hawaii, where he died in 1989. His remains were later returned to his northern Philippine hometown of Batac, where his glass coffin has become a tourist attraction.

Near the end of Marcos’s reign, Aquino’s father, a former opposition senator, was assassinated while under military custody after arriving at Manila’s international airport. The current leader’s mother, Corazon Aquino, then helped lead the 1986 revolution that ousted Marcos and succeeded him.

When asked by The Associated Press in 2011 whether he would allow Marcos’s burial at the heroes’ cemetery, Aquino replied: “Not during my watch.”