MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former president Fidel V Ramos called for an investigation of key officers of the military and the police who, according to him, connived with the Marcos family for the surprise burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last Friday, November 18.
Ramos slammed the burial as part of a conspiracy among these groups, noting that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and his undersecretaries did not know about it. (READ: Defense chief on Marcos burial: ‘I do not know’)
“Those military, police, and other uniformed personnel involved must be investigated and, if necessary, booted out of the service because they were disloyal to the service for failing to inform their immediate commanding officers,” Ramos told a press conference Monday, November 21.
He added: “Hindi alam ni Secretary Lorenzana although sabi ni [military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto] Padilla, based on instruction from DND, but when I checked last Saturday, some undersecretaries did not know.” (Secretary Lorenzana did not know although Padila said it was based on instruction from DND. But when I checked last Saturday, some undersecretaries did not know.)
The chain of command was broken in this case, according to Ramos.
‘Di ganyan ang Armed Forces noong panahon namin. Meron kaming chain of command, di lang para sa military at police, pati intelligence service,” he said. (The Armed Forces during our time was nothing like that. We had chain of command, not just for the military and the police, but also for the intelligence service.)
The former president, who’s one of the major players in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos, dismissed claims that those involved in the burial didn’t have enough time to prepare for it. (READ: Behind the scenes: 12 hours to prepare for Marcos burial)
It was clear there was “advance planning,” Ramos said. “One in connivance [between] the Marcos family and some local military, police officials. I’m saying local because the commanders did not know and some of them were out of town. It also included the active connivance and participation of helicopter pilots and ground personnel including those at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, as well as the generals.”
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Ricardo Visaya and the commanding generals of the military’s major services – army, navy, and the air force – were absent at the private burial. (READ: Top military generals absent at Marcos burial)
Padilla earlier explained that they were not available for the burial that was arranged last minute.
Asked if President Rodrigo Duterte was also part of the conspiracy, Ramos replied with a question. (READ: Palace spokesperson: We didn’t know about Marcos burial)
“Let me pose a question to answer your question. Secretary Abella the spokesman said hindi alam ng president. Maniwala ka ba dyan? Isa pa, Frank Malabed sinabi ‘nagulat ako nung nawala.’ Maniniwala ka?” said an unconvinced Ramos, referring to the mortician of the late dictator. (READ: Marcos ‘body’ still in Batac mausoleum after burial)
The AFP, for its part, maintained they only implemented the orders from “higher offices.” Should there be a case filed against the military, AFP Public Affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said they would be ready to answer.
“It’s too early to talk about that. What we can say is we are implementing the orders. Pangalawa, if there will be a case against us then that’s the time that we’ll be able to answer based on the contents of the case,” Arevalo said.
PNP had advance information
Ramos also refused to buy the statement of Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa that he, too, was just as surprised about the burial, having been informed about it a day before.
The former president said the National Capital Region Police Office could not have deployed over a thousand policemen if they were not informed way ahead of time, considering there was a big event that same day – the return of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa from Abu Dhabi.
“Ang PNP, may advance information din ‘yan (The PNP also had advance information). How can they deploy 500 units under Albayalde, ng NCRPO, in front of the gate at the same time that there was concurrently a briefing at Camp Crame dahil dumating si (because of the arrival of) Kerwin Espinosa?” Ramos said, referring to the press conference held by Dela Rosa in the early morning of Friday straight from the airport.
Ramos said he felt “very bad” when he found out about the hero’s burial of Marcos, saying it is a “trivialization” of the sacrifices of the uniformed personnel during the 1986 People Power Revolution. (READ: FVR: Marcos burial an insult to AFP, PNP)
His Monday press conference was his own way of protesting, he said.
“Consider this my own protest. I have joined every EDSA reenactment where the soldiers and the policemen marched to meet the civilians,” Ramos said. – Rappler.com