A state funeral for Robredo

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2012 03:43 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2012 03:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The family of Jesse Robredo has accepted Malacañan's grant of a state funeral for the fallen Interior and Local Government Secretary.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President offered the state funeral and the Robredos accepted.

Based on protocol, state funerals cannot be imposed and can only be offered by the government and accepted by the bereaved family.

Lacierda explained that in a state funeral, all expenses are shouldered by the state along with the grant of full honors.

Undersecretary Manuel Luis Quezon III, who is in charge of the funeral arrangements, said that based on the Proclamation of the President, all government offices began flying the Philippine flag at half staff today, in addition to Malacañan, the City of Naga, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) offices.

He said today is the 2nd day of National Mourning for Robredo.

Honors for the DILG chief

Quezon explained that an honor guard will be at Naga City till August 24, when Robredo's remains will be brought to Malacañan by 930am. The uniformed services will alternate in rendering honors.

The PNP will render departure honors in Naga City as well as escort the remains to the Pili Airport. The PNP will also provide departure honors at the airport prior to its flight to Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

At Villamor, the Armed Forces will provide arrival honors, after which the remains will be escorted by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to Malacañan Palace. The PSG will provide arrival honors for Robredo's remains at the Palace, including the gun salute.

The remains will lie in state from August 24 to August 26 at the Palace.

Quezon could not yet determine if the wake will be at the Heroes' Hall of Malacañan, where previous wakes were also held. He explained that the Heroes' Hall is the only hall large enough and with enough dignity in the Palace for such an event.

Quezon said only Presidents lie in state in the much larger Ceremonial Hall or Rizal Hall at the 2nd floor of the Palace. The Heroes' Hall is at the ground floor. 

The communications undersecretary explained that the Heroes Hall is named after the country's heroes.

Traditionally, only presidents had wakes in Malacañan but in recent years, members of the official family also had wakes at the presidential palace.

In the Arroyo Administration, wakes for Palace undersecretaries Jose Capadocia, Marilous Frostrom and 5 others were also held in Heroes Hall following a chopper crash up north.

A wake was also held for Press Secretary Cerge Remonde at the Heroes Hall in 2010. Diosdado Macapagal was the last President to lie in state in Malacañan.

Funeral cortege and gun salutes

Quezon said a state funeral is the highest possible funeral a republic can give.

He explained the elements of a state funeral are the same whether the recipient is a Medal of Valor awardee or the president, except for minor differences based on ranks in the number of gun salutes. All National Artists are given state funerals.

The PSG will also handle departure honors from Malacañan and VAB when the remains are flown back to naga on the 26th.

Back in Naga, planeside and batallion honors will be provided by the AFP.

The PNP will escort the remains to the Naga City Hall.

Robredo will be interred on August 28, 2012.

Quezon explained that since it is a state funeral, there will be an escort battalion, a funeral cortege with uniformed services, arrival honors at the place of interment, a gun salute, a 3-volley salute, the playing of the taps, and finally the handing of the national flag to the widow.

Book of condolence

Quezon also announced that books of condolences have been opened in Philippine consulates and embassies overseas. A book of condolence has been opened by the Department of Foreign Affairs for members of the diplomatic corps here.

Quezon reiterated the government appeal for netizens paying tribute to Robredo to use the unified hashtag #salamatjesse in tweeting their tributes.

When asked about suggestions for a hero’s burial for Robredo, Quezon replied that the President already gave instructions for the highest possible honors to be given to the fallen DILG chief.

He said Aquino is conscious of the need for the consent of the family.

"The remains have not even been in his hometown for more than 48 ours. The process must go through its own pace in view of the need of the family to rest," he said.