Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Thunderbird Hotels J. Pardo, Lima, Peru
18 November 2016

President Rodrigo Duterte released a statement today, Friday 18th of November, upon landing at Chávez Airport in Lima, Peru on the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos and he said: “Hopefully, both sides will exercise maximum tolerance and come to terms with the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos.”

In an additional statement to the Presidential Communications Office, he further said that he hoped everybody would find a space in their hearts to forgive and to set free those who had hurt or injured them.

The decision to bury the late President Ferdinand Marcos today is a personal decision of the Marcos family. We respect their choice of date for the internment.

The Supreme Court lifted the status quo ante order and allowed the internment of the remains and the President adheres to the ruling of the High Court.

Government extended the necessary assistance in matters relating to protocol and honors.

We understand that there is a segment of society against the burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The President fully understands this and has allowed any form of mass action as long as it is legal, peaceful and in accordance with the law.

In the past he has said: “Let history judge but I will do what is legal and the Supreme Court has ruled that it is.”


Lynda Jumilla (ABS-CBN): Sir, good morning. Was the President informed or consulted that the burial will take place today?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know, he was not — he was not that…He was not sure about the exact date, as far as I know.

Ms. Jumilla: Do you think that there will be some adverse impact on the burial of the former President which was timed whether intentionally or not on the President’s arrival and participation in the APEC Leaders’ Meeting? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let’s put it this way, I am sure that there will be reactions whether negative or positive, whether he is going to be there or not. So, I suppose this has to be expected and respected.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, just to belabor the point…


Mr. Morong: The Marcos family did not inform President Duterte of the date of the internment?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know there was no direct line between the Mar[cos]…As far as I know, there was no direct conversation regarding those matters. He was on his way to his…His attention was focused on the trip to Lima.

Mr. Morong: But, of course, you need considerable amount of time for government forces to render assistance, right? So that must have been communicated through what office?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There were…There were other agencies that were attending to the matter.

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star): Usec, the President is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and I suppose the Army was informed beforehand of the date. So he was informed by the Army of the date of the burial? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, as far as I know that there are agencies responsible for these matters and since it’s a…You know, actually at the end of the day, it’s a simple burial, you know. So, proper agencies actually addressed the matter.

Henry Uri (DZRH): In one of the interviews of the media, General Bato dela Rosa says that the President informed about the burial of President Marcos at the LNB, what’s your reaction?


Mr. Uri: General Bato dela Rosa admits in one of the media interviews na alam daw po ng Pangulo ang paglilibing sa Libingan ng mga Bayani kay Marcos.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Then he must know some things. Thank you.

But as far as we know, as far as we know, the President was focused on the trip to APEC — for the APEC in Lima, Peru. Thank you.

Mr. Morong: Sir, the statement of the President you just read, when did he write it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He didn’t write it. He actually verbalized it to me.

Mr. Morong: When you came down? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes…Not came down. Before we came down…I went up to him and asked — I told him that, “Sir, so and so has happened…And do you have any statement regarding this matter?…”

Mr. Morong: So noong nasa eroplano pa kayo, pababa?

Nasa plane pa kami.

DJ Yap (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, obviously there is going to be some suspicion that it was timed perfectly for the trip of President Duterte — the Marcos burial. And there is going to be some speculation that he may have avoided the backlash as a result of this timing?

Well, whether he would have stayed or whether he left, there would always be some form of a comment. 

You know, one of the things that people were expecting that he would be there because this was supposed to be a campaign promise but he was not there.

So it just so happened that, you know, there is certain responsibilities as leader and he does it.

Mr. Yap: Sir, one of the reasons why so many people seemed to be so affected or disturbed by this news is the sneakiness or the — sneakiness, the perception that it was done “like a thief in the night”, that is the quote by some of the commentators.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I doubt that there is anything sneaky about the matter. In fact, it was part of his campaign promise, right? So the fact that they finally buried him is part of the whole process as there was no intent to be as you say “sneaky”. Thank you.

Dexter Ganibe (DZBB): Sec, good morning. Welcome to Lima. Sir, papano how nalaman ng Pangulo iyong paglilibing kay Ferdinand Marcos — kay dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos at sino ang nag-inform sa kanya during the flight.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, actually I went up to him…I don’t know if he knew about it but when I went up to him, I assumed that…I am going by events that’s when he made the statements so I assume that that was when he heard about it.

Mr. Ganibe: For clarification it po ba ‘yung lumapit po kayo sa kanya at napagusapan niyo ‘yung paglilibing na kay Ferdinand Marcos? Ito ‘yung galing na kayo ng Auckland patungo ng Lima?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Kanina lang po, kanina lang po.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Upon arrival, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Upon arrival and okay…Upon arrival and there was news coming from social media. And so we talked with Sec. Martin, I went to see — meet to the President and I asked him, I informed him, “sir, this event has happened,” and he said, “do you have a statement?” So it was handled with regularity. Okay, thank you. Last question.

Mr. Morong: Was the President surprised when you told him that Marcos was buried today?  

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He certainly did not have a prepared statement so I suppose he was surprised. Okay, thank you.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV-4): Any directive from the President kasi hindi maiiwasan na magkakaroon ng mga rally and ano, may appeal kayo sa public ldin regarding this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes. We..Like the President said, like the President said that he hopes that we might find a space in our hearts to be able to forgive and set free those who have hurt or injured us. 

Also, in a more elevated sense of logic, he said that he hoped that the burial would actually set a, you know, bring about a cycle of healing for the Filipino people. And it has been a few decades… And in fact, practically a new generation has grown up not really knowing about the Marcos years. 

And while we may put these things in perspective later, we certainly hope that the Filipinos will be able to move on and bring about a—of course, people resent — some people resent that statement about moving on but it is a…I believe it is a reasonable thing to ask that the people do after this event, that they would set aside differences and learn to build bridges and that we might build a stronger nation, which we see the President attempting to do. 

It’s a difficult situation, there are many concerns regarding the matter but it is something that we hope that the Filipinos will be able to overcome and build a stronger, lasting nation.

Mr. Ganibe: Sec, kumusta po ang Pangulo sa kanyang byahe? Hindi ba makakaapekto sa kanya yung mga balitang nanggagaling ngayon sa Pilipinas na medyo dumadami ‘yung mga nagpoprotesta dahil sa Marcos burial? Hindi ba makakaapekto ito sa kanyang pagdalo dito sa APEC Leaders’ Summit?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The President is very grounded and a very centered person. And he… This is not in, and he in fact, he anticipated that there will be protests, that there will be negative perceptions but he did say he allows it. He himself gives space for resistance.

Mr. Ganibe: Kumusta po ‘yung mahabang byahe niya? At saka hindi ba siya nagreklamo at medyo mahaba-haba?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi eh, mukhang presko nga eh. 

Mr. Morong: Sir, yun lang, baka malimutan. Natanong na kanina but I just want to emphasize. Some feel na very, yung point is sneaky and it was like a thief in the night dahil being in their character na, you know, tumatakas talaga sa ano. How does the Palace feel that the Marcos family…How does the Palace and also the President feel that the Marcos family did it this way?  

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let me give you my opinion and usually I do not. But to, I think it’s very misguided to consider the President as doing as sneaky act. 

In fact, he has always faced all his situations square and fair. This is, I do not say that this is a minor event but this is a thing of the past that he’s just putting an end to and I think it’s a very courageous…The fact that he has allowed is actually a very courageous act already.

Mr. Morong: But I think the manner? 


Mr. Morong: The burial na sikreto tapos biglang sumipot nalang sa–

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The burial belongs to the Marcos family. He is being given a soldier’s burial. So it is their private affair.

Mr. Morong: And however they wanted to do it is out of the President’s hand?


Mr. Uri: Secretary, do you think the Marcos family should issue an apology once and for all to diffuse or to erase all the hatred—

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I cannot speak for the Marcos family but let them handle their concerns one by one. First, they buried and then, as things will transpire, they may come around to that situation but it’s not for us to say that.

Mr. Uri: Can we ask for your opinion, sir, if they should apologize?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: In this case, I have no opinion. Thank you.

Q: Sir, yung mga rallies na–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah and it will… It will have to take its own natural course. Thank you.

Ms. Novenario: So ang sinasabi po ng Palasyo eh yung pangyayari po eh responsibilidad lang ng mga Marcos at hindi po ito kargo ng gobyerno?

 PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe that the President has done his part and then the Marcoses also — the actual burial itself belongs to the Marcos family. Thank you very much.