MANILA, Philippines – Why sanction Philippine National Police (PNP) officials over the surprise Marcos burial?
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa defended his personnel on Thursday, November 24, after former president Fidel Ramos said military and police officials should be investigated – and possibly dismissed – for the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
“Wala naman akong pakialam sa pag-libing, hindi naman ako party to that. Ang amin lang naman, sinisiguro namin na kung ilibing man, walang gulo. So nag-deploy kami ng mga pulis namin para mag-secure sa area,” said Dela Rosa in a chance interview at the House of Representatives on Thursday evening.
(We have nothing to do with the burial, we are not party to that. Our concern was to make sure that there would be no untoward incidents if the burial pushed through. So we deployed police to secure the area.)
Ramos had earlier criticized the burial as a conspiracy among military and police officials, noting that even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was in Peru then, did not know about the burial.
“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,” said Ramos earlier this week. (READ: Marcos burial: Did AFP commit violations?)
Ramos was among the key figures during the People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos. A long-time general in the AFP then, Ramos was among those who turned against Marcos.
The burial, kept secret by military and police at the request of Marcos’ heirs, took most Filipinos by surprise – Marcos loyalists included. News of the burial was confirmed to media only an hour before the late dictator’s remains were interred at the Libingan on November 18.
Dela Rosa previously said he only learned about the burial on November 17.
The burial had been stalled following petitions before the Supreme Court (SC). On November 8, the SC ruled that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to order Marcos’ interment at the Libingan was not against the law.
Dela Rosa on Thursday reiterated that the cops’ only duties were to secure the cemetery’s perimeter and manage any demonstrations. (READ: Dela Rosa brushes off criticism over secret Marcos burial)
“Ang preparations talaga sa pag-libing is between the family of Marcos and the AFP. Hindi ‘man amin ang sementeryo, so how can we be party to that?” the PNP chief said.
(The preparations for the burial were between the family of Marcos and the AFP. The cemetery is not ours so how can we be party to that?)
Marcos’ 21-year rule was marred by the declaration of martial law, human rights abuses, and corruption, which, his critics said, make him undeserving of a hero’s burial.
Allowing the Marcos family to bury their patriarch at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was among Duterte’s 2016 campaign promises. (READ: Marcos burial: ‘We hold Duterte admin responsible’)
The President himself has said he wasn’t aware that Marcos’ burial would take place on November 18, as he told the late dictator’s family that the date was up to them.
On Friday, November 25, anti-Marcos protesters will hold a grand rally at the Luneta Park in Manila. Dela Rosa said police would allow protesters to air their grievances, provided they are not unruly.
Duterte also said the protesters will be protected as they assemble in any public place and “for as long as they want.” – Rappler.com