Opposition senators on Thursday, June 24 mourned the passing of former President Benigno Aquino III saying the Philippines lost an honest and sincere leader who served the country “with the purest of intentions.”
“I have lost a dear friend and the nation has lost a gentleman who served his country well—with all honesty and sincerity and with the purest of intentions,” said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a Liberal Party stalwart and partymate of Aquino.
“I am thankful for the opportunity of having worked with PNoy during his Presidency. He meant well and wanted the best for the country and for all of us. We have lost an honest man,” Drilon added.
Detained Senator Leila de Lima said she received the news “with an immensely heavy heart.”
“I’m in a state of utter disbelief and indescribable grief. Sobrang napakabigat sa loob (It’s so hard to accept). During these very difficult times, our nation has lost a great leader. A leader who served with all his heart, not just to continue the legacy of his parents, but to also offer his life to lead our nation on a righteous path,” De Lima lamented.
Senator Risa Hontiveros for her part, said that even if there were naysayers about Aquino’s leadership, these outweighs the contribution the former leader was able to bring about to the country when he was in power.
“There’s a saying that a prophet or a leader is not always fully recognized or appreciated or accepted in his own homeland. But I should say, he’s one of the best things that happened to our country after the 1986 People Power Revolution,” Hontiveros said during a virtual press briefing.
“I think, in the future, when we start looking back on the different administrations that took over the country’s leadership, more and more of us will be able to give him his fair share of recognition for the good things he has done when he was our President,” she stressed.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, said it was heartbreaking for him to hear the news, saying he could not understand why the nation is losing “many good and honest persons” during this time.
“Let’s strengthen our hearts…Even if it hurts to think that one of our strongest pillar of democracy is gone, there is someone who will come out to become a new pillar of democracy which he and his parents started,” Pangilinan said.
A dedicated leader
Other members of the Senate said they view Aquino as one dedicated leader.
Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao hailed the former leader for manifesting his term of service and championed the “Daang Matuwid” and the “Kayo ang Boss Ko” platform.
Sen. Richard Gordon said that though he and Aquino may not have agreed on some issues, “we both have the same dream of making our country great and believe that as a nation, we should assert and defend our sovereignty over what is rightfully ours.”
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, an ally of President Duterte, said the current administration is thankful to Aquino “for having dedicated his life in the service of the country and our people.”
“President Duterte and I have the highest respect for former president Noynoy Aquino. We were with him on many occasions especially when he ran for President in 2010 and we saw how he really loves his fellow Filipinos,” Go said also in a statement.
Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said that as president, “he was able to balance the weight of being an Aquino—carrying all the history of the name, and all the expectations that came with it.” “We have lost a dedicated leader. I am shocked and saddened by his passing,” Zubiri said.
Sen. Cynthia Villar said she has only fond memories of working with him during his term as President.
“We passed many relevant legislations then. I remember he fondly calls me ‘Ma’am Cynthia’, which he said is a sign of respect because when (former Senate President) Manny (Villar) was Speaker of the House, he said I served like a mother for all the new congressmen,” Villar said.
“Like that of his parents, Ninoy and Cory, Noynoy’s legacy will be an important part of Philippine history. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” she said.