Government Bans Marcos Body Until After May Elections
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The government today rejected plans by the family of the late President Ferdinand Marcos to bring his body back from Hawaii before next month’s election, saying it could disrupt the balloting.
There was no immediate reaction from Marcos’ widow, Imelda, who had planned to bring the body home from Hawaii on Sunday. But Mrs. Marcos’ lawyer, Antonio Coronel, said the family will defy the government ban.
Presidential sources have said President Corazon Aquino fears Mrs. Marcos, who is running for president, will use her husband’s body to try to drum up sympathy for her campaign.
″It is a big risk to allow it to return now considering the election tension. Some words may be spoken at the wake and we cannot take the risk of public disturbance,″ said Executive Secretary Franklin Drilon.
The Marcos family planned to bring the late president’s body back to his home province of Ilocos Norte on Sunday from Honolulu, where it has been kept in an air-conditioned crypt. They set the burial for April 21.
There was no immediate comment from Mrs. Marcos, but her only son, Ferdinand ″Bong-Bong″ Jr., said his family ″has made every effort to accommodate the government concern. Where now does reconciliation begin?″
Mrs. Aquino still blames Marcos for the 1983 assassination of her husband, former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. He was assassinated moments after returning from the United States to challenge Marcos for national leadership.
Marcos was driven into exile in Hawaii during the February 1986 ″People Power″ uprising that swept Mrs. Aquino to the presidency.
For the stated reason of national security, Mrs. Aquino barred Marcos from his homeland after he died in September 1989.
Last fall, she modified her position by saying the body could be brought to Marcos’ home province but not to Manila.
Mrs. Marcos recently announced the return and burial plans for this month, but the presidential palace then said she would first have to clear the plans with the government.
Her lawyer this week sent a letter to Drilon outlining the plans, and Drilon today rejected them.
Mrs. Marcos is among seven candidates running for the presidency.
Mrs. Aquino refused to seek re-election but endorsed her former defense secretary, Fidel Ramos, a cousin of Marcos who helped topple him by joining the 1986 mutiny.