MANILA – Some 30 supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte held a rally simultaneous with the anti-Marcos groups’ #BlackFiday protest at the Rizal Park on Friday to show their support for his decision to have former President Ferdinand Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Separated by a street from about 4,000 protesters of the Marcos burial, the Duterte Youth, who campaigned for him ahead of the May elections, held a banner that read, “DUTERTE YOUTH supports our Strongmen of Asia: President Rodrigo Duterte & President Ferdinand Marcos”.
“We believe that he’s really worthy to be there because of many qualifications,” Duterte Youth chairman Ronald Cardema told InterAksyon.com in an interview. “He served as commander-in-chief, he was a congressman, he was Senate president, he was a World War veteran, he was a Medal of Valor awardee, most importantly.”
The Medal of Valor is the military’s highest honor. Marcos got his on October 16, 1958, as Ilocos Norte 1st District representative, under the administration of then President Carlos Garcia.
Asked what he had say to the protesters on the other side of Luneta, Cardema replied, “Don’t portray na 100 percent evil naman si President Marcos, because 80 percent of his term, his accomplishments, kitang-kita pa rin natin ngayon. Ginagamit pa rin natin ‘yung mga laws and ‘yung mga infrastructure na ginawa niya (Please don’t portray President Marcos as 100 percent evil, because 80 percent of his term, his accomplishments, we can still feel today. We still use the infrastructure he had built).”
Cardema acknowledged that there were victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime. In fact, the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board said early this year that they were processing 75,730 claims.
“But kung pwede lang, habulin natin ‘yung libu-libong nag-implement nun. ‘Yung mga nag-torture, nag-rape, pumatay (But please, let’s go after the people who implemented them. Those who tortured, raped, and killed). Because possibly they’re still alive ’til now,” Cardema said. He then singled out former President Fidel Ramos, who was chief of the Philippine Constabulary during Martial Law.
Cardema also had a message to Leftist Cabinet members whom he accused of “sending their underlings” to the protest against the Marcos burial.
“Leave the Cabinet first before criticizing the President like that in public,” he said. “(W)hen he announced it, you should be united with your leader, with your President because you’re working under him. Hindi ‘yung nababack-stab siya nang ganito (Don’t stab him in the back like this).”
He added that they had known Duterte was in favor of the burial even during the campaign period. They, as well as Vice-President Leni Robredo, should have brought up the issue with him during Cabinet meetings, Cardema said.
He believes the rally on November 30 was meant to build momentum leading to Duterte’s ouster, with Robredo being the one to gain.
Cardema expressed doubts that Robredo won legitimately, and said he had “no problem” if an investigation found that it was former Senator Bongbong Marcos who had won.
Did this mean then that it was okay if it was Bongbong who stood to gain from the protests which would supposedly lead to Duterte’s downfall, but it was not okay if it was Robredo who would gain from it? Cardema’s reply: “Pinag-uusapan kasi ‘yang dayaan na ‘yan noong eleksyon pa (The cheating was being talked about even during the elections).”
He claimed that in Congress, where he worked, there were factions pairing all the presidentiables with Bongbong, but Robredo was only paired with Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas. He also cited the strong support of religious groups for Bongbong, which was why his loss was “very nakakapagtaka(questionable).”
Cardema appealed to the public to stop adding “stress” upon the President, and to support him, instead.
“Ang Presidente natin, matanda na. Madaming problema ‘yan. Sabihin nating baka may sakit… sabi sa Malacañang they receive around 5,000 texts every day, mga reklamo, mga problema ng bansa. Nai-i-stress din ‘yan (Our President is old. He has many problems. Let’s say he’s sick… they say in Malacañang that they receive around 5,000 texts every day, complaints, our country’s problems. He gets stressed, too),” Cardema said.
He also asked that people stop making an issue of the Marcos burial.
Many of those who were protesting against it anyway were also against Robredo, as well as former President Noynoy Aquino, and it is they [the so-called Yellow Forces] who would gain from Duterte’s downfall, Cardema said.
He said they were also ironing out details for another rally on November 30, in the same venue as the anti-Marcos protesters.