MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead Tuesday's state funeral for Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo and posthumously bestow upon him the Philippine Legion of Honor, with the rank of Chief Commander.
Robredo, widely mourned and feted since he died in a plane crash in Masbate, will be given the highest award the President can give without congressional approval for his achievement in public service, according to Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
The conferment ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. after the funeral mass at the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia in Naga City.
"The President will confer on Secretary Robredo the Philippine Legion of Honor with the rank of Chief Commander. The Philippine Legion of Honor is considered the highest award the President can bestow without the need for approval of Congress," Lacierda said in the latest bulletin on the funeral arrangements for Robredo.
"Secretary Robredo is being conferred the Philippine Legion of Honor for life achievement as Secretary of the Interior and as Mayor of Naga City," he added.
The President is expected to present the insignia to Atty. Leni Robredo, widow of the late Secretary, and then deliver a eulogy for the deceased.
Director General Nicanor Bartolome, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said at least 500 policemen will be deployed inside and outside of the Basilica, the home of the famous Our Lady of Penafrancia, where at least 50,000 of mourners are expected to converge.
"We have been preparing for his since Saturday and so far, we are ready," said Bartolome.
Yesterday, a funeral procession was held in downtown Naga City which was marked by a rare water salute on Panganiban Avenue and rotunda using fire trucks of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the volunteer groups.
On board a flatbed truck designed with yellow flowers, Robredo's casket left the Naga City Hall, where public viewing and necrological services were held since the remains arrived from Manila, at around 8 a.m.
People showed up along the route, with most of them converged near the public market and near their ancestral house where Robredo's cortege made a brief stop.
The casket arrived at the Basilica Minore shortly before 10 a.m., where arrival honor was held. Public viewing was immediately allowed and lasted until midnight.
Established in 1947, the Philippine Legion of Honor is conferred on both Filipino and foreigners for valuable and meritorious service. The award has four degrees, the highest is Chief Commander which will be conferred on Robredo.
The civilian division of the Philippine Legion of Honor has six ranks, namely Chief Commander, Grand Commander, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, and Legionnaire.
The rank of Chief of Commander is conferred upon a civilian for life achievement in public service not otherwise qualifying for the Quezon Service Cross; or upon a former or incumbent head of State and/or of government.
Past recipients of Legion of Honor include former President Fidel Ramos, the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, the late President Sergio Osmeña, and the late Senator Lorenzo Tañada.
Other notable personalities who received the same award are US President Franklin Roosevelt, Emperor Akihito of Japan, and General Douglas MacArthur.
Aquino is also expected to deliver a eulogy, after which, the casket is brought out of the Basilica by pallbearers.
While state funeral is regularly rendered by the military, Bartolome said the Armed Forces of the Philippines was already advised that the PNP will be part of the ceremony.
The casket will then be loaded onto the caisson after the departure honors at the Basilica, followed by a funeral cortege to the crematorium.
At the crematorium which is located not far from the Basilica, a 19-gun salute coinciding with a three-volley salute, will be given by a company of 21 soldiers, followed by the playing of the Taps, a musical piece sounded generally on bugle or trumpet.
According to Wikipedia, Taps is played in the tune sometimes known as "Butterfield's Lullaby", or by the first line of the lyric, "Day is Done".
Following the Taps, the national flag is taken off the casket, folded and presented to the wife of Robredo by President Aquino.
The presentation of the flag serves as the conclusion of the state funeral.
Based on the schedule, the remains are brought inside the crematorium. After the cremation, Bartolome said the PNP will provide an escort for the family of Robredo for private interment of the ashes.