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MANILA, Philippines (RNS/ENInews) Filipino church leaders are divided over a proposal to give the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial.

In late March, a resolution was endorsed by 193 lawmakers urging President Benigno Aquino III to allow the burial of Marcos’ remains in a heroes’ cemetery in Manila. Marcos’ body is currently in a refrigerated crypt in a family mausoleum in Batac City, about 280 miles north of Manila.

“This is ironic and this happens only in the Philippines,” Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church told ENInews. “The proponents of the proposal either have no sense of history or have misplaced values on human rights.”

The exiled Marcos died in 1989 in Hawaii after he was ousted by a civilian-backed military revolt in 1986 that drew widespread support from Filipino churches. The current president’s late father was an opposition leader and his late mother, Corazon Aquino, assumed power after Marcos’ fall.

The resolution “makes a mockery of the Heroes’ Cemetery because Marcos was a villain, not a hero,” Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon told ENInews.

But retired United Methodist Bishop Benjamin Justo favors the resolution. “Who among those buried at the heroes’ cemetery were perfect and sinless? And who could not forget what Marcos contributed to the country?” he told ENInews.

Other leaders said the country has more important things to worry about.

Retired Catholic Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he considers the debate a “non-issue,” adding, “let’s better leave things as they are. There are more than enough divisive issues in this poor and pitiful country.”

– MAURICE MALANES, Religion News Service

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