MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claims to not have been informed that the remains of former president Ferdinand Marcos would be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday, November 18.
Asked if the burial was pushing through on Friday, Lorenzana said in a text message to Rappler, "I do not know. I am here in Lima, Peru with the President."
The defense chief said he was only informed that the Marcoses wanted the burial to take place "not later than December 1." President Rodrigo Duterte was also told of this. (READ: Palace spokesperson: We didn't know about Marcos burial)
"The President was duly informed of the Marcos wish," added Lorenzana.
But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which oversees the Libingan ng mga Bayani, is supervised by the Department of National Defense.
AFP officials reportedly had a meeting on Thursday night until the early hours of Friday morning about the burial.
In fact, AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told reporters on Friday, after the dictator was buried, that the military was informed about the burial date on Thursday, November 17, at 5 pm.
At the time, Duterte was on a flight to Lima, Peru to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Lorenzana is part of the official delegation with the President.
Lorenzana said his instructions on the burial were already relayed to the different units involved as early as July 7. The burial was temporarily stopped by the Supreme Court following petitions filed by those who opposed the interment.
But after the High Court's decision allowing the burial, Lorenzana had told the AFP to coordinate with the Marcos family on their desired date for the event and to follow his July instructions.
"They had their original instructions in my original directive of July 7 that was temporarily stopped by the Supreme Court. The date of burial would be determined by the Marcos family," said Lorenzana.
A military general privy to burial preparations told Rappler that the Marcos family wanted a "private burial" and for the ceremony to be "held in confidentiality."
After the late strongman's remains were flown from Ilocos to the Heroes' Cemetery by chopper, the burial took place around 12 noon.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.