MANILA - The Aquino family may have opted not to have a state funeral for President Aquino, but the former commander in chief was given full military honors on Wednesday.
As the remains of the former president is laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Wednesday afternoon, the military and all its service units performed rituals for a president that they had a thorny relationship with in the eighties.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said three 21-gun salute would be rendered all through Wednesday: When the coffin was placed on top of a flatbed truck after the requiem mass at the Manila Cathedral; when the funeral procession arrives at the Manila Memorial Park, a private cemetary, and; an hour after the funeral rites.
The gun salute involved volleys fired at one-minute intervals until it reached the 21st. The military did this in 4 military camps in Metro Manila: the Philippine Navy Headquarters in Roxas Boulevard; the Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio; the Airforce Base in Villamor; and, at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo.
At the Manila Memorial Park itself, there was a brigade-size, honor-guard contingent of about 500 to 600 personnel from the military's service units: the army, air force, navy, and some Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel.
The gun salute at the private cemetery coincided with the playing of the national anthem, Brawner said.
Aside from the rituals on Wednesday, there was also a firing of volleys on Saturday, August 1, the day President Aquino's death was announced. Brawner said the the ritual started at 8 a.m. with 8 volleys fired. Thereafter, a volley was fired at 30-minute intervals until sundown.
This military custom was carried over from the battlefield. Warriors then temporarily ceased fighting to tend to the dead. The volleys signaled that the burial party was ready to resume battle.
Brawner said the volley-of-fire ritual was done also during the funerals of previous Philippine presidents who have passed away.
Flags in military camps are also at half-mast for 30 days, as dictated by the military's manual, according to Brawner.
In government offices, flags are at half-mast for 10 days, as announced by President Arroyo last Saturday.
Cory and the military
Former President Aquino had a fluid relationship with military adventurists during her 1986 to 1992 term. Her administration survived 9 coup attempts from various factions of the military.
Brawner said that was a time when there was a lot of anxiety within the military, which, for decades, served a dictatorial regime. President Aquino restored democracy in the country through a bloodless people power revolution.
"There was paradigm shift in the psyche of the military. Under a dictatorship, the military had great power. But with the entry of President Aquino, what was emphasized was the supremacy of the civilians over the military," Brawner told ABS-CBN News.
Nonetheless, he said, "We will always remember President Aquino for introducing several reforms in the armed forces. We would like to remember her as the one who humanized the armed forces."
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