MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine Air Force deployed its brand new choppers to transport the “brown wooden coffin” of the late president Ferdinand Marcos from Ilocos Norte straight to the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday morning, November 18, for a private burial that surprised the nation.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the heirs of the former president shouldered the cost of flying the Bell 412 choppers that were recently purchased brand new from a Canadian supplier. He couldn’t give an amount, however.
“It was requested from the armed forces… I think there was no commercial airlift that could provide the service (last-minute),” said Padilla.
“I was informed that the helicopter lifted off from Ilocos before 9 today, about 8:46 or 8:47. It arrived 11-past at the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” the military spokesman told reporters after the burial.
The burial ceremony started at noon.
P1.2 million for use of choppers
Padilla said the military will be charging the Marcoses for the use of the Bell 412 choppers.
The Marcoses also shouldered the cost of preparing the gravesite inside the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Citing information from the Philippine Air Force, Padilla said the total cost of using the two choppers was P1.2 million.
It costs P106,000 to operate a Bell 412 chopper for one hour, said Padilla. On Friday, the two choppers were both used for 5.7 hours, he added.
Air Force choppers are deployed in twos. One carried the coffin while the other served as the escort.
Padilla said “higher authorities” approved the use of the choppers. “It could be the President himself or the Department of National Defense,” he said.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he did not know that Marcos would be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 18.
Padilla said: “I think the arrangement was part of the coordination between the family and the armed forces. I am not privy to the details.”
President Rodrigo Duterte promised during the campaign that he would allow the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. It was one of his first orders when he became president-elect – he said the burial could be arranged immediately.
Padilla said Duterte immediately gave the go signal for the burial. He recalled that meeting between Duterte and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr in Tacloban City on the day of the Supreme Court ruling. The Marcos family then coordinated with the Department of National Defense.
“The coordination went from the instruction of the President to the Department of National Defense. All the arrangements were done at the level of the people who were directly in touch with the family. We don’t know any of those because we were out of the loop,” said Padilla. – Rappler.com