Saturday, August 8, 2009

P25,OOO each for 4 honor guards


By Nina Catherine Calleja, Fe Zamora and Tarra Quismundo

THE FOUR HONOR GUARDS who received heaps of praise
and recognition as they stood immobile on a flatbed truck
carrying the casket of former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino
during her funeral procession received P25,O0O each
for "nine hours of honor and duty," raised. by grateful businessmen
and former senator Agapito "Butz" Aquino.
For almost nine hours, the four honor guards-Police Officer
1 Danilo Malab Jr., Petty Officer 3 Edgardo Rodriguez,
Airman 2nd Class Gener Laquindam and Private 1st Class Antonio Cadiente-
stayed motionless, without taking a break for
meals or going to the toilet, as the truck brought the casket of the former president through
a 23-kilometer route from the Manila Cathedral to
Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque Ciry.
"Many sacrificed, but we cannot reward them all," said
Butz, Aquino, younger brother of the former president's
husband, Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
"What they did seem ordinary to us. But try standing
up for hours on the truck without moving and you'd
see how difficult it was," he said.
Changing AFP image
By rewarding the guards, they were trying to change
the image of the military and police who implemented martial
law during Ninoy's time, Aquino added.
He said the suggestion of coming up with a reward came
from businessmen he met with every Wednesday. "The sentiments
were unanimous. Everybody wanted to say thank you," he said.
"We should keep the ball rolling," added Greg Garcia, a
businessman who accompanied Aquino during the turnover at a
Makati City restaurant yesterday.
He added that although praises and promotions were
psychic rewards, a bit of monetary help could mean a lot
for men in uniform who earn only around p11,aOO monthly.
Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano and Metro Manila police commander
Roberto Rosales were also around to congratulate the four.
Not 15 minutes of fame
"This is not about what your assignment is but how you do
it," Cayetano said. "What they did was not 15 minutes of fame
but nine hours of honor and duty."
The four have become instant celebrities, with people
swarming around them, shaking their hands and taking
At Camp Crame's weekly forum yesterday, Malab attributed
his capacity to endure the nine-hour journey to "maximum
tolerance," a crowd control policy adopted by the military
and policy especially during mass demonstrations or rallies.
"People threw coins-one peso coins, 25 centavos at us,
often hitting me in the face. It hurt but I just practiced maximum
tolerance," Malab said.
"I was tired but I had to overcome the feeling because I was
representing the PNP uniform and badge," said the 25-yearold
Isabela native, who entered the service just a year ago. "I only
did my job."
Senior Insp. Jesus Manalo Jr., chief of the PNP Escort and
Honor Guard Service, said he chose Malab because of his
height (5'9"), his youth and physical fitness.
'The Escort and Honor Guard Service, a unit under
Camp Crame's Headquarters Support Service, began security
and honor preparations for Aquino in coordination
with the military and the Aquino family a week before
she passed on Aug. 1, he added.
20 female guards also honored
Malab and 20 female honor guards who took part in rites
to honor the late former president will also be recognized
Monday morning in Camp Crame, said PNP spokesperson
Senior Supt. Leonardo Espina.
The Aquino family will personally thank the four soldiers
on Aug. 21, the 26th anniversary of Ninoy's assassination,
according to a text message sent to INQUIRER yesterday by
Cory's son-in-law, Eldon Cruz.
They will also thank Private 1st Class Rico Seno, Airman
1st Class Sherwin del Rosario, Sgt. Carlo Tiongson,
EM3 Samuel Fuertes and SN1 Arturo Roadilla- the five soldiers who
stood guard by the former president's casket when it
was moved from La Salle Green Hills in San Juan City
to the Manila Cathedral on Aug. 3.
Aquino was buried beside her husband, Ninoy on the
site where the family gathers every Aug. 21 in a memorial
for the senator who was assassinated in 1983.

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