MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he was informed of the November 18 burial date of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos a day prior, or Thursday morning, November 17.
Dela Rosa, who went to check the surroundings of the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday morning, said it was National Capital Region police head Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde who told him about the Marcos family's decision.
"Naisahan kayo 'no? Ako nga naisahan din ako eh, kahapon ko lang nalaman eh. pareho tayo," Dela Rosa told reporters in jest.
(They got one over you, didn't they? They too got one over me, I found out only yesterday, so we're the same.)
"Kahapon ko lang nalaman na ililibing na pala nila, mga umaga. Nag-prepare ang ating NCRPO para just in case ready," Dela Rosa told reporters on the sidelines of the Senate budget deliberations on Friday, November 18.
(I just found out about the planned burial yesterday morning. The NCRPO prepared for it.)
While Dela Rosa admitted prior knowledge of the plan, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza, who has supervision over the military units that organized the burial, claimed he did not know. (READ: Defense chief on Marcos burial: I do not know)
Duterte would have known
Dela Rosa said he believes President Rodrigo Duterte knew about the plan.
"I presume alam niya dahil nag-uusap naman sila sa pamilya Marcos," Dela Rosa said.
Asked if there was a deliberate request to hide the information from the public, Dela Rosa said, after a pause followed by laughter:
"Sabi ko nga kahapon ko lang nalaman. Busy ako kay Kerwin Espinosa. Pinabayaan ko na si Albayalde na mag-asikaso sa libing ni President Marcos." (I told you I knew about it only yesterday. I was busy with Kerwin Espinosa. I allowed Albayalde to be in charge of it.)
He, however, said he did not receive any order from the President or Malacañang.
Asked why he did not check with the executive or the military, Dela Rosa said he assumed the military knew what they were doing. They are, after all, the agency that has control over the cemetery, he said.
"Napausapan sa balita, pamilya, 'di naman siguro papayag military na walang basis 'yung kanilang action, so everything is plantsado na…alalay na lang sa labas," he said.
(It was talked about in the news, with the family, and I assume the military won't allow it if it were baseless, so everything is ironed out already... the police just provided assistance.)
Dela Rosa also said that the PNP has long been ready for the burial. They started preparing, he said, as soon as the Supreme Court released its decision, even if petitioners could still file motions for reconsideration.
Recounting his conversation with Albayalde Thursday morning, Dela Rosa said: "'Di ba since lumabas order ng SC ready na kayo anytime?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Paglabas ng order, anytime ang libing, maka-deploy tayo.' Sabi niya matagal na silang ready," the police chief said.
("Since the SC order has been released, you're ready anytime, right?" "Yes, sir." "Once the order is out, the burial can take place anytime, so we should be able to deploy personnel." He told me they've long been ready.)
Don't blame PNP
Dela Rosa said the public should not blame the PNP for the sudden burial, saying it is the military that owns the cemetery and which coordinated with the Marcos family. The PNP has no jurisdiction over the Libingan, he stressed.
"Ang sa amin, let us be very clear on this. Papel namin diyan maintain peace and order sa palibot ng LNMB, 'yung may raliyista. As far as specifics ng libing, bakit, kailan, saan, ang may hawak niyan military," he said. "Huwag kaming pagbintangan na nag-asikaso niyan. 'Di kami. It's not our job. 'Di sa amin 'yung Libingan."
(On our part, let us be very clear on this. Our role is just to maintain peace and order in the surroundings of the LNMB, where the protesters are. As far as specifics of the burial, why, when, where, the military handles those. Don't blame us for the burial. Not us. It's not our job. We don't oversee the Libingan.)
Dela Rosa said he went to see police troops stationed outside the cemetery just to give them support. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org