MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army said it has already received the directive from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to give military honors to the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos during his planned burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
The directive requires the Army to provide a vigil, a bugler or drummer, a firing party, a military host or pallbearers, escort and transportation, and arrival and departure honors, according to an Inquirer report.
The Army has also designated a protocol officer who will coordinate with the Marcos family on the details of the planned burial.
President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the transfer of Marcos' remains from Ilocos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he believes the late dictator, who was a soldier and a former president, deserves to be buried there.
"Even if he is not a hero, he was a soldier," he said during a press conference in Davao City on Thursday, August 11. (READ: Duterte: Marcos ‘not a hero’ but 'law' allows burial at Libingan)
His decision has met opposition from no less than the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, which noted that US military files showed that Marcos' stint as a World War II soldier was "fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies."
Aside from historians, lawmakers, and martial law victims as well as their relatives also opposed the planned burial, saying the killings, torture, disappearances, corruption, and media oppression during Marcos' rule make him unfit to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Still, following Duterte's order, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the AFP has already began "the necessary planning and preparations" for the burial.
The DND had said that as per the rules of the AFP, Marcos can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he was a former president, soldier, defense secretary, and war veteran. (READ: Who can be buried at Heroes' Cemetery? AFP explains rules)
In an interview with the Inquirer, Army Spokesperson Colonel Benjamin Hao said that as early as last week, a private contractor through the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) has already began work on the 100-square-meter space where Marcos will be buried.
PVAO is the government office that supervises the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Hao said Marcos' plot would be next to that of former President Carlos Garcia. Former presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Elpidio Quirino are also buried in the cemetery.
On Sunday, August 14, a coalition of various groups from different sectors and political parties will hold a protest rally against Marcos' burial. (READ: In protest of Marcos burial, national artist's remains exhumed) – Rappler.com