Robredo body lies in state at Malacañang, accorded full state honorsBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Carried by pallbearers in a flag-draped casket, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo returns for the last time in Malacañang, where President Benigno Aquino pays his last respects to a dedicated public servant who served his Cabinet for more than two years. His remains will lie in state at the Kalayaan Hall until Sunday. Slideshow by Matikas Santos, photos by Malacañang and music by PolygonMusic
MANILA, Philippines—Jesse Robredo, who felt more comfortable in shorts and rubber slippers, was accorded honors befitting a head of state when the flag draped casket carrying his body arrived Friday at Malacañan Palace where it will lie in state for two nights before being flown back to Naga City.
When his remains arrived at Malacañang under somber skies on Friday morning, a 19-gun and three-volley salute filled the air and confetti rained down from the sky as the casket was carried by pallbearers into the Palace’s American-era Kalayaan Hall.
President Benigno Aquino, wearing a black armband, welcomed remains of his interior and local government secretary into the hall that was soon filled with mourners, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, Cabinet secretaries, Congress leaders and key military and police officials.
All throughout the transport of his remains— from the Archbishop’s Palace to the airport in Naga City, then from the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to Malacañang—Robredo was accorded full honors as part of the state funeral for him.
In a state funeral, as in Robredo’s case, arrival, departure and final military honors are rendered; a book of condolence is opened for dignitaries in Manila and in foreign posts; and expenses for funeral services are paid by the state, according to the committee for funeral arrangements and burial.
The last state funeral was held on July 4 this year for the late National Scientist Perla Santos-Ocampo. The last state funeral for a former President was for the late President Diosdado Macapagal in 1997, the committee said.
Military honors include elements such as a flag-draped casket, two uniformed personnel standing guard by the casket, a 19-gun salute and a three-volley salute, and taps, it said.
During Friday’s arrival honors, Aquino, together with Robredo’s widow, Leni, and daughters Aika, Patricia and Jillian, stood under a covered porch of the hall, as eight uniformed pallbearers carried the casket from the hearse and lowered it on a stand before them. A dirge played in the background.
The pallbearers then gave way to the honorary pallbearers—Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Cavite Rep. Joseph E. A. Abaya, Harvey Keh of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, Alice Murphy of the Urban Poor Associates, and Joan dela Cruz of the Department of Interior and Local Government—who took their position around the casket.
As the military band played the national anthem, a 19-gun and three-volley salute rent the air.
The uniformed pallbearers resumed their original position, and carried the casket inside the hall, followed by the honorary pallbearers, the President and Robredo’s family, as a shower of confetti fell from a hovering helicopter.
Cabinet members, military and police officials, and Malacañang staff filed inside the hall, which observers said was decked with wreaths of flowers and festooned with orchids, after them.
“I was holding back tears,” Keh, lead convenor of the Kaya Natin! Movement, said on the phone later, recalling how he felt during the arrival honors.
Inside the hall, the mood was “somber” and “quiet,” he said. “Everyone was praying and paying their respects. The President escorted the family to lunch.”
But earlier that day, Keh said he was surprised to see people from all walks of life—urban poor, kids, government employees— come out in the streets as the hearse bearing Robredo’s remains drove from the Villamor Air Base to Malacañang.
“It all seemed like Tita Cory’s funeral,” he said, referring to the large crowds that lined the streets during the late President Corazon C. Aquino’s funeral in August 2009. “This just goes to show how Filipinos love good men; how much Filipinos value integrity, honesty and public service.”
Memorial services sponsored by the Department of Interior and Local Government, urban poor groups and the Kaya Natin! Movement followed in the afternoon and a Mass in the early evening. To keep the wake solemn, the hall was closed to the media, but the proceedings were broadcast live on TV.
Apart from the Cabinet officials, Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Senators Ralph Recto and Gregorio Honasan, other government officials, military and police officials came to pay homage to the late secretary.
Malacañang has organized a state funeral for Robredo. It has announced national days of mourning from August 21, when Robredo’s body was recovered from the bottom of the sea, until his interment, and ordered all government buildings to lower the national flag to half-staff.
Robredo died with the plane’s two pilots when it crashed into the sea off Masbate City Saturday afternoon while flying from Cebu to his hometown Naga City. His police aide survived the crash.
Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang, commenting on full honors for Robredo, said: “They befit someone like Jesse who has done so much to help his country. If there were more people like him in the country, this would be a much better place.”
First posted 4:53 pm | Friday, August 24th, 201