MANILA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday to allow the remains of ousted former President Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the heroes' cemetery in Manila, hopefully ending more than two decades of dispute that continued to divide Filipinos.
Voting 9-5, court spokesperson Theodore Te told a news conference that the court dismissed all petitions to ban Marcos burial in the cemetery.
The high court found that "there is no law that prohibits the burial of Marcos in the heroes' cemetery," and that Marcos qualifies to be interred in the cemetery because "he was a former president, he was a commander in chief, he was a former soldier, medal of valor awardee, former legislator, (and) secretary of national defense," Te said.
Moreover, the court said that Marcos "had not been convicted of crime involving moral turpitude.
"The court said that the cases cited by the petitioners which were cases abroad were all civil in nature and therefore he has not been convicted by any final judgment involving moral turpitude," Te said.
The Marcoses hailed the ruling. Former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend and ally of the Marcoses.
"Our family will forever be thankful for his kind gesture," he said.
"It is our sincerest hope that this will lead the nation towards healing as we endeavor to move the country forward to give every Filipino a better life," said Marcos Jr.
Marcos Jr. also added that the Marcos family is "deeply grateful" to the Supreme Court for its decision to allow the burial of Marcos at the cemetery.
"Once again, the Supreme Court has taken a magnanimous act to uphold the rule of law," he said.
Marcos Jr. said his family will start finalizing the date for his father's interment.
An anti-Marcos petitioners said in a statement that they are "disappointed, heartbroken and outraged by the decision."
"With this decision, the courts have tramped on the graves of the true heroes of this country. They have trampled on the memory of those who have died defending our freedom, our rights, and our very identity as Filipinos," the anti-Marcos group said.
The group added that the Supreme Court has "subjected those who suffered and died under Marcos's orders to a new death once again, robbing them the sole consolation they have had: that their deaths were not in vain, that they died protecting a nation, that they died heroes."
Anti-Marcos groups, most of them torture victims locked up in jails when Marcos imposed martial law in 1972, filed a petition before the court to oppose the burial, arguing that Marcos is not a hero and does not deserve a plot in the cemetery reserved only for heroes.
They further argued that thousands of Filipinos suffered and were stripped of their rights during the Marcos dictatorship.
Citing a law that allows the interment of presidents and soldiers without distinction on whether they were heroes or not, the Marcos family and their lawyers argued that Marcos is a former president and soldier and therefore is eligible for ground burial at the cemetery.
Marcos loyalists led by Marcos' daughter, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and anti-Marcos protesters held separate rallies outside the court when the verdict was announced.
Last Sunday, former President Benigno Aquino, whose father was incarcerated by Marcos, attended an anti-Marcos prayer-cum-concert rally to remind the people about the oppressive Marcos rule. He described a burial of Marcos among heroes as "desecration" of the national heroes' cemetery.
The next day, Imee Marcos, lit candles, fingered her rosary and led a prayer vigil in front of the high court. She insisted that her father has the right to be buried in the cemetery.
"Let's bury Marcos so the country will heal, become united, and the Philippines would be able to move on," she told reporters.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend and ally of the Marcoses, has given the go-ahead for the body of disgraced Marcos to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery.
Marcos's embalmed body is currently on display in his home city of Batac in Ilocos Norte province, north of Manila, a known bailiwick of the Marcoses.
Marcos was elected in 1965, but declared martial law in 1972. Millions of Filipinos took to the streets in February 1986, deposing Marcos and his wife, Imelda. The Marcoses was forced to flee to Hawaii where the elder Marcos died in 1989. His body was bought back to the Philippines in 1993.
The Marcos family has long lobbied for an honorable burial in the heroes' cemetery. But the anti-Marcos and human rights groups had vehemently opposed the plan, saying the disgraced leader does not deserve a military honor and a plot in the hallowed ground. Enditem