MANILA - An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday shared his thoughts on whether everyone buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani should really be honored as heroes.
In an interview with radio DZMM, AFP spokesperson Restituto Padilla was asked by anchor Gerry Baja: "Pag d'yan po ba inilibing sa Libingan ng mga Bayani, kailangan na po ba natin talaga silang kilalanin na sila ay mga bayani?" (If someone is buried at the Heroes' Cemetery, should we really recognize them as heroes?)
In reply, Padilla said: "Hindi naman po." (Not really.)
He then explained that the Heroes' Cemetery, whose old name was "Libingan ng Bayan", is not exclusive to national heroes but also caters to those who rendered public service like soldiers, war veterans, former Philippine presidents, national artists, scientists, dignitaries, and AFP chiefs of staff.
The cemetery, he added, is also open to former First Ladies and the wives of former Defense and Army chiefs.
"Ang akin pong pagkakaalam, dating tinawag na 'Libingan ng Bayan' itong Libingan ng mga Bayani hanggang sa nagkaroon po tayo ng pagpapalit ng pangalan base sa isang issuance po sa atin. Inilaan po natin ang lugar na ito bilang pagkilala sa kontribusyon ng mga nakasaad at nakalistang tauhan diyan habang sila ay nagsisilbi po sa pamahalaan," he explained.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled that the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who was both a former President and a former soldier, deserves to be buried at the heroes' cemetery. Critics of the late dictator have vowed to lodge a motion for reconsideration asking the SC to reverse its ruling.
HONORS FOR AN EX-PRES, BURIAL FOR A SOLDIER
Padilla said it is up to Marcos family to decide whether the late strongman would be accorded a state funeral befitting a former President or a more modest soldier's burial.
Under the first option, Marcos will get arrival honors at the cemetery, a funeral march, a 21-gun salute, and Value of Fire rites.
Fit for an ex-president: AFP explains Marcos burial rites
"Ang pinal na paghahanda po ay nasa pamilya kung anong nanaisin nila," Padilla said, adding that the Marcoses have yet to inform the Army of their wishes.
(The final preparations will be based on what the family wants.)
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, the dictator's daughter, earlier said her family is merely seeking a soldier’s burial for her father.
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The Marcos burial was a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, who said it will pave the way for national healing and unity.
Duterte won't change mind about Marcos burial at Libingan