Protests have erupted in the Philippines as dictator Ferdinand Marcos is buried at a heroes' cemetery

Updated: 

Protesters have taken to the streets against the burial of a former dictator in a heroes' cemetery in the Philippines.

Police officials said the service took place despite growing opposition after the Supreme Court ruled that one of Asia's most infamous tyrants can be entombed in the hallowed grounds. Marcos died in 1989, but was embalmed and his body put on display in the city of Batac.

Ferdinand Marcos, President-elect of the Philippines, poses with his wife Imelda,(AP/PA)
Ferdinand Marcos poses with his wife Imelda in 1965 (AP/PA)

The highly-secretive funeral shocked many pro-democracy advocates and human-rights victims who had planned several protests nationwide on Friday to oppose the burial at the cemetery, where former presidents, soldiers and national artists have been interred.

Demonstrators have rallied online using the hashtag #MarcosisNOTaHero to share their feelings.

Left-wing activist Bonifacio Ilagan, who was tortured and detained during Marcos' time in power, said Marcos was being buried "like a thief in the night".

"It's very much like when he declared martial law in 1972," Ilagan said. "This is so Marcos style. I want to rush to the cemetery to protest this. I feel so enraged, I feel so agitated."

Protesters hold placards decrying the plan to bury Marcos in a heroes cemetery (Aaron Favila/AP)
A protest against the burial in September (Aaron Favila/AP)

He said he and other stunned activists, gathering outside the Supreme Court in Manila for the previously scheduled "Black Friday" protest against the burial, had not decided their next step.

Burying someone accused of massive rights violations and widespread corruption at the heroes' cemetery has long been an emotional and divisive issue in the Philippines, where Marcos was ousted by a largely non-violent army-backed uprising in 1986.

It is not just those who suffered under his premiership who are protesting. Jorge Bagaporo, a student at Ateneo de Naga University, joined a student mobilisation against the burial. "I took part because I believe that the burial is a great shame and betrayal to the Filipinos especially to those who were deprived of human rights during his regime," he said.

A sign protesting the burial of Ferdinand Marcos (Jorge G. Bagaporo Jr/PA)
(Jorge G. Bagaporo Jr/PA)

Bagaporo says the sign hung on the Four Pillars of the Ateneo de Naga University in the photo below means ""Never before. Not today. Will never be."

Nicole Rey, 18, a student at De La Salle University in Manila said: "I joined the protest because I deeply feel that our voices should be heard, especially of my generation who will soon lead this country.

"Others may attempt to revise history, and silence those who are witness to the Marcos atrocities, but I hope and know that the truth would ultimately prevail."