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Protesters display a banner while giving the thumbs-down as they denounce the planned burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroe's Cemetery) during a protest at a park in metro Manila, Philippines August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco


MANILA (Reuters) - Leftist activists and victims of human rights abuses in the Philippines urged the Supreme Court on Monday to block the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at a cemetery for national heroes, saying it would be unconstitutional.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the army to bury Marcos, who ruled with an iron fist for two decades, at the cemetery, saying he was fulfilling a campaign promise to have him interred there as a former president and soldier.

Critics of the plan include Vice President Leni Robredo and senators allied with former President Benigno Aquino.

On Monday, victims of rights abuses during the rule of Marcos and leftist activists went to the Supreme Court seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the plan.

"The interment of the remains of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani with the honours that supposedly befit only Filipino heroes with overall unblemished integrity and dignity is contrary to the constitution," they said in the petition, referring to the cemetery.

Marcos was a soldier and guerrilla leader during World War Two when the former U.S. colony was occupied by Japanese forces.

As a dictator in the 1970s and '80s, Marcos, his family and cronies amassed an estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth and thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were killed. His wife, Imelda, denies amassing wealth illegally.

In 1986, he was ousted in a "people power" revolt and fled to Hawaii where he died three years later. His remains were returned in the early 1990s and have been kept in a family mausoleum in his hometown in the north.

The critics said Duterte's plan to transfer Marcos' remains would also violate military regulations that bar from the cemetery "those who have been dishonourable discharged from service or personnel convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude".

Chanting "Marcos, not a hero," hundreds of people held a protest on Sunday at a park to oppose the government plan.

Presidential Press Secretary Martin Andanar, said the president was not bothered by the protests and the plan was going ahead.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robert Birsel)


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