Lest you think the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is now in the funeral delivery business, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, military spokesman, said the chopper arrangement was only granted because no airline could fly a corpse with a last-minute arrangement.
“I think there was no commercial airlift that could provide the service (last-minute),” a Rappler article quoted Padilla as saying. But the general assured that it was not offered by the AFP but, “it was requested from the armed forces.”
The PAF used its brand new choppers, Bell 412, newly bought from a Canadian aircraft dealer. The choppers flew the “brown wooden coffin” of former President Ferdinand Marcos direct from Ilocos Norte then straight to the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in Taguig City, Metro Manila on the morning of November 18, Friday.
Though tagged a “family private burial,” the sudden and unannounced nature of the event surprised the whole nation, to say the least. Even Batac folks and tourists were shocked to know that Marcos was being buried in Taguig all the while that his “corpse” was still being viewed at the Mausoleum Marcos there.
According to Padilla, the airlift was not a freebie. The Marcos family shouldered all the cost. Referring to PAF reports, Padilla said the Marcoses were charged P1.2 million in all. But that didn’t include the gravesite preparation inside the LNMB, which the Marcoses alleged also shouldered.
But who gave the go signal to use the PAF choppers for the burial?
Padilla claimed “higher authorities” gave the permission to use the new choppers, though he didn’t pinpoint who. “It could be the President himself or the Department of National Defense,” the general said. But later he also added: “I think the arrangement was part of the coordination between the family and the armed forces. I am not privy to the details.”
Moreover, “The coordination went from the instruction of the President to the Department of National Defense. All the arrangements were done at the level of the people who were directly in touch with the family. We don’t know any of those because we were out of the loop,” Padilla added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for his part, said he had no knowledge that the Marcos burial would happen that day of November 18 at the LNMB.