Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Army pays tribute to former Army Chief

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – The Philippine Army honored its former Commanding General, General Ernesto S. Mata, as he was finally laid to rest  at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at 12:00nn today, an Army official said.

Major Harold M Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson said that prominent military officers, both retired and active, paid their respects to General Mata who had also served as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Senior officers came in droves to salute a very fine officer and gentleman who had faithfully served the country. Among those who attended the funeral honors include Army Chief Lieutenant General Emmanuel T Bautista, former CGPA, retired General Victor Ibrado, and former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita,” said Cabunoc.

Mata, 96, was the last surviving member of Philippine Military Class (PMA) of 1937. After his compulsory retirement in 1964, he was recalled to duty and was appointed Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by late President Marcos.

In 1967, he retired from active duty after which he served as Secretary for the Department of National Defense.

As a former Defense Secretary, Mata was accorded military honors by a battalion-sized unit. Hundreds of soldiers from the three major services of the Armed Forces came to witness the traditional burial honors.

Before the coffin  was lowered to its final resting place south of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the soldiers rendered their final salutation as the flag was prepared to be folded according to the tradition.

Mata's widow, Mrs Angela Montilla-Mata, tearfully received the flag from  Major General Elmir Dela Cruz, the military host.

"I respectfully turn over this flag to you, which symbolizes the faithful service of your loving husband. We will never forget his legacy of professionalism and dedication to duty," said Dela Cruz.

The military burial honors is a specially orchestrated ceremony given by a country’s military to a soldier, marine or airman who died in a battle; a veteran or other foremost military figures or head of state.

The funeral features gun salutes and other military elements with Philippine flag draping over the coffin.

Note: Photos courtesy of Pfc Marlon San Esteban

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