Tributes pour from allies, rivals mourning passing of President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ S. Aquino III

Published June 24, 2021, 7:01 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

  • Incorruptible, righteous and decent – VP Leni Robredo
  • Principled leadership — Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima
  • A leader who championed good governance reforms – Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso
  • Aquino’s enduring legacy was the establishment of good governance and sustained economic growth – former Press Secretary Sonny Coloma
  • He leaves behind a legacy of service – Congressman Feliciano “SB” Belmonte
  • He gave us a reason to dream –Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) Chairman Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno
  • Brave, fair and just –Retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales

The death of former President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III on Thursday, June 24, has sent shockwaves across the country, triggering grief and tributes pouring in for PNoy from both allies and rivals.

Aquino, who led the country under the “Daang Matuwid” reform agenda from 2010 to 2016, died at the age of 61, from renal disease secondary to diabetes.

From Malacañang 

Malacañang offered sympathies, and expressed appreciation for former President Aquino’s service to the Filipino nation.

“We commiserate and condole with the family and loved ones of former President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III as we extend our condolences on his untimely demise,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing on Thursday, June 24.

“We are grateful for the former President for his contribution and services to the country. We ask our people to offer a prayer for the eternal repose of the former chief executive. Rest in peace, Mr. President,” he added.

Incorruptible, righteous and decent – VP Robredo

Vice President Robredo, who was endorsed by Aquino as vice presidential bet in 2016, saddened by Aquino’s demise, said the former President was “incorruptible, righteous and decent.”

“I also saw how unaffected by power he was. He remained very simple,” she said.

She recalled how Aquino looked after her and her children after her husband Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo died.

“It has been my greatest honor to have worked with him, even only for a while. It was a blessing to be his friend,” she said.

Many regarded Aquino’s death as heartbreaking while others remembered his humble and principled leadership.

We’re very proud of him

Deedee Siytango, a close family friend, said Aquino had been undergoing dialysis thrice a week in preparation for a kidney transplant before his passing. She said Aquino, who was at home in Quezon City, was rushed to the hospital Thursday.

“He was rushed to the Capitol Medical at 6 a.m. but it was too late. When they got there, I understand he had no more pulse,” she said over ANC Thursday.

“I am sorry we lost him at the peak of life because he was such a fine boy and grew up to be a morally erect president and we’re very proud of him,” she added.

Important people in history – Pres. Arroyo

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also reacted soon after she learned about Aquino’s death. “My family and I join the Filipino people in prayers and sympathy on the passing of former President Benigno Aquino III. Aside from his own achievements, he will be remembered as part of the Aquino family that has contributed three important people to the history our nation, Senator Ninoy Aquino and our 11th and 15th presidents, Cory and Noynoy Aquino,” she said in a statement.

Aquino, a former senator who ran on a campaign platform of “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” succeeded Arroyo after her almost 10-year term ended in 2010.

Farewell, PNoy – Pres. Erap

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada said he was saddened by the passing of former president.

“Ako at ang sambayanan ay nalulungkot sa pagpanaw ni former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. (I and the Filipino people are saddened by the passing of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III),” Estrada said in a statement.

“Sa pagkakataong ito, ang aking tanging dasal ay bigyan kayo ng Diyos ng lakas ng loob. Paalam, PNoy! (At this moment, my only prayer is that God give you courage. Farewell, PNoy!)” Estrada said.

During the 2010 elections, Estrada ran against Aquino for the presidential post.

 Aquino’s courage, vision – Villar 

Another political rival, former Senate President and House Speaker Manny Villar, also expressed sadness over Aquino’s passing.

“My family and I are deeply saddened with the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III. We send our condolences to the Aquino family and ask that everyone honor their request for respect and privacy,” Villar said.

“President Noynoy was a formidable political adversary at one point but he was a Filipino leader that I respected. Despite our differences, I admired his courage and vision to serve our people. We set aside those differences in order to work together in 2013 so we can build a better nation for our people,” Villar, who lost to Aquino in the 2010 presidential elections, added.

“But personally, and more significantly, I admired him greatly when he came and visited the wake of my mother in 2015. At a time of profound sadness and grief, he offered kind words of comfort, perhaps drawing from his own experience when his mother, former President Corazon Aquino died.

“It is the same words of comfort that we offer to his loved ones who are grieving and to a grateful nation mourning the loss of a Filipino who served his country well,” Villar concluded.

Good governance, sustained economic growth – Coloma

Two former Cabinet members of Aquino also sent sympathies following the death of the former President and remembered his legacy to the nation. Former Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said the President served the nation “with dedication and humility.”

Aquino’s enduring legacy, Coloma said, was the establishment of good governance and sustained economic growth.

“He was always mindful of his role as ‘father of the nation’, and that his decisions would affect the lives and welfare of millions. In every meeting at which he presided, he did his homework and required those who worked with him to be as thorough in studying policy choices to ensure that the decisions would be beneficial to the people,” Coloma said.

Principled leadership – Purisima

Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also shared the nation’s grief on Aquino’s passing and offered condolences to the family. He also lauded Aquino’s “principled leadership” that facilitated the country’s economic growth during his term.

“The turnaround story of the Philippines – from Asia’s sick man to Asia’s bright star – is without doubt one of his greatest legacies. He left office with a Philippines more optimistic about its future, having ended the vicious cycle of doubt and having entered a virtuous cycle of confidence,” he said.

He said Aquino’s principled leadership likewise placed “people over politics, prudence over populism, refusing to let expedient electoral games get in the way of his sacred responsibility to the Filipino people.”

The country mourns – Sotto

“No matter what political side you’re on, when a former president passes away, the country mourns,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.

Continuing the legacy of his esteemed parents – Angara

 Senator Sonny Angara, expressed his gratitude to Aquino for “continuing the legacy of his esteemed parents” former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

“PNoy introduced widespread reforms and espoused a strong anti-corruption policy during his presidency,” Angara said in a statement.

“’Walang wang-wang, walang counterflow, walang tong, walang tongpats. Kayo ang boss ko.’ These are just some of the quotes of PNoy that are forever etched in the hearts and minds of every Filipino and aptly captures his stance against the abuse of power by the people in power,” said the senator.

Bongbong Marcos condoles

Another perceived rival of Aquino, former Senator Marcos, also extended his condolences following the death of the former leader. The two prominent families are known as longtime political enemies.

“The nation mourns together with the Aquino family at the passing of former President Noynoy Aquino. May you rest in peace,” Marcos said in a Facebook post.

 He served with honor, integrity – Lacson

 Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said hearing the news of Aquino’s passing “is heartbreaking.”

“As our country’s leader, he did not deserve to be unappreciated. He served his country very well with humility, honor and integrity. Even as President, he always managed to promptly respond to my messages no matter how casual or trivial,” he added.

“It was indeed a privilege to have served with him — both in the Senate and the Executive department — but more than that, to be his friend,” Lacson added.

Kind and simple – Senator Imee

Senator Imelda “Imee” Marcos, a strong political rival of the Aquinos, offered her heartfelt condolences to the family of “PNoy,” who was her “classmate” in the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2007.

“I will always treasure the memories of our long years together as freshmen legislators and members of a tiny opposition,” Marcos said in a statement.

“For beyond politics and much public acrimony, I knew Noynoy as a kind and simple soul. He will be deeply missed,” she said.

 The nation lost a leader – Sen. Villanueva

Sen. Joel Villanueva also admitted he is still in a state of shock upon hearing the demise of the former president.

“I am still shattered in million pieces…The nation lost a leader, and I, a friend. But he was more than that. He was a mentor, a brother to me…He believed in the great talents of our youth, waiting to be unlocked if given good training, right breaks, and inspiring success stories,” Villanueva said.

“When the passion of the present had died down, a fair assessment of his administration will bear the truth of great achievements, brave decisions and moral leadership,” Villanueva said.

“PNoy spent his post-presidency in the ways he wanted it to be: a simple man, plain citizen Noy, a compassionate tito, never missing the perks and the powers he once wielded,” he emphasized.

From House of Representatives

“He served our country with utmost integrity and dedication, surely living up to the legacy of his parents Senator Ninoy (Benigno Aquino Jr.) and former President Corazon ‘’Cory’’ Aquino,’’ Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said, mourning the passing of former President Aquino.

Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman said Aquino was a true patriot whose heart is dedicated to the country and served his country, traits that could not be equaled.

“Paalam, kapatid kong PNoy! Saludo ako sayo (Goodbye, my brother PNoy! I salute you!). Sa iyong paglisan, baon mo ang aming paggalang, paghanga at pagkilala. Hinding hindi ka namin malilimutan (With your passing, you bring our respect, admiration and friendship), ’’ Hataman added.

House Majority Leader and Leyte Representative Martin G. Romualdez, in a statement, said: “The news of his death was a shock to all of us. We all grieve for losing him so early — a man of integrity, a Filipino leader who made it his primary mission to institutionalize good governance reforms.

“We extend our condolences to his family and loved ones. May you find peace in knowing that he is now back to the loving embrace of our Father. Rest now former President Aquino. Paalam (goodbye).”

Bicol Party-List Representative Alfredo A. Garbin Jr., chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, expressed his ‘’deepest and sincerest sympathies,” in a statement said:  “As a former President of our Republic, former President Benigno Aquino III merits the posthumous honors befitting him. This is a time for national mourning to honor a former president,’’ he said.

“He made sure the transition to the administration of President Duterte was orderly and constitutional,’’ he added.

Good governance reforms – Mayor Domagoso

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso remembered former President Aquino as a leader who “championed good governance reforms.”

In a statement, Domagoso said the reforms made under PNoy’s presidency “promoted efficiency and reduced opportunities for corruption.”

“The Philippines was cited as the fastest-growing economy in Asia during his administration,” he said.

“PNoy was a pragmatic man who did the best with the cards life had dealt with him,” the Manila mayor added.

The mayor said Aquino also served as an inspiration to the Filipino people.

“May his legacy continue to lead others to the right path,” Domagoso added.

The Philippine flag at the Kartilya ng Katipunan in Manila was at half-staff on June 24 to mourn the passing of Aquino.

 Remarkable public servant – Mayor Belmonte

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed great sadness in learning about the passing of former President Aquino.  “On behalf of all QCitizens, my family and I send our deepest condolences to President Aquino’s loved ones during this difficult time,” Mayor Belmonte said in a statement.

“Quezon City mourns with you, and celebrates the outstanding life of a remarkable public servant who devoted his life to pursue and uphold what he called a “Daang Matuwid”,” she added.

Belmonte remembered the occasions they have been together throughout the years as her mother, the late Betty Go-Belmonte, and former President Cory Aquino were very close friends.

The city mayor also said that they have frequently discussed public platforms that will help increase livelihood and alleviate poverty.

Dedicated the best years of his life – Mayor Binay

In a Facebook post, Makati City Mayor Abigail “Abby” Binay said: “I am saddened by the news of former President Aquino’s death. He dedicated the best years of his life to the country and to public service, and for this we are grateful,” she said.

“My most heartfelt condolences to the Aquino family, with whom our family has shared a deep bond that goes back to the time former president Cory, who was my ninang (godmother) at my wedding, brought in my dad as part of her campaign security during the 1986 snap elections. Rest in peace, PNoy.”

A big brother – Mayor Oreta

Malabon Mayor Lenlen Oreta mourned the passing of his cousin and former President and said his death “is truly a heartbreaking loss” for him.

“I looked up to him as a big brother who I can approach for any advice and counsel. He is not only my karate instructor but my idol when it comes to shooting,” Oreta said in a Facebook post.

Oreta said he would never forget the former president’s wisdom and all the light moments he had with him.

“Gaya noong siya’y naging best man sa aking kasal, at lalo na ang kanyang words of encouragement tuwing may mga challenges tayo na hinaharap (Just like when he became the my best man during my wedding and also his words of encouragement every time I would face challenges),” the mayor said in his post with his photo with Aquino.

“Farewell cousin Noy! Your legacy will forever be in our hearts. You will always be the best Best Man,” he added.

Prayers for peaceful journey – Mayor Fresnedi

Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi, extending his heartfelt condolences to the family former President Aquino, said: “As an honest public servant, former President Noynoy fought for ‘Daang Matuwid’ and the improvement of services by the government and support for poor Filipinos. The former President was a partner in different programs implemented by the city.”

“Thank you former President Noynoy for your sacrifice and love for the country. We offer our prayers for your peaceful journey toward the Kingdom of God,” Mayor Fresnedi said in a statement.

Thank you for serving the country well – Mayor Zamora

San Juan City Mayor Francisco Zamora thanked former President Aquino III for “serving the country well” in a statement Thursday, mourning the passing of Aquino who served as the country’s 15th president.

“I offer my deepest condolences to the Aquino family on the passing of our former President,” the San Juan mayor said.

“PNoy served our country well as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines from 2010 to 2016,” he said.

Zamora also recalled how he was able to experience Aquino’s “brand of leadership” when he was still the vice mayor of San Juan.

Thank you – Mayor Calixto-Rubiano

Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano thanked former President Aquino for serving the country well as President, and for all the help he has extended to the city during his presidency.

“Rest in Peace, Pnoy!” Rubiano said.

Many  years of friendship between our families – Former VP Binay

Former Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay has sent his condolences to the bereaved family of former President Aquino.

“Noynoy and I may have had political differences during the last few years of his term, but that will not diminish the many years of friendship between our families,” he said in a statement released on Thursday, June 24.

“My deepest condolences to the family. Godspeed, Pareng Noy.”

He left a legacy of service – Belmonte

Congressman Feliciano “SB” Belmonte, Jr. said former President Aquino left a legacy of service.

“He leaves behind a legacy of service, and I am grateful to have served along with him as Speaker of the House in the 15th and 16th Congresses. Under his leadership, we passed many progressive and life-changing laws like the Reproductive Health Act, the Kasambahay Law, and the Human Rights Victims Compensation Act,” he said in a statement.

“We also passed measures that would promote economic development and inclusive growth, such as the Competition Act, the creation of the DICT, the Sin Tax law, among many others. He served our country with utmost dignity and honor. His single-minded dedication to his duties and responsibilities, his campaign against corruption, and his unquestionable integrity were the hallmarks of his administration. His code of conduct was “Daang Matuwid,” and he lived that reality,” he added.

‘Remarkable legacy on PH foreign policy

The Department of Foreign Affairs has sent a heartfelt tribute following the death of former President Benigno S. Aquino III, calling him a “great man, leader and nationalist.”

The department, led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., expressed condolences to Aquino’s family and recognized the former leader’s legacy related to foreign policy and history.

“During his term as the 15th President of the Philippine Republic, President Aquino elevated the country’s conduct of foreign relations, steered foreign policy towards a principled direction that earned international respect and esteem, and invigorated the foreign service with a collective sense of patriotism, commitment to service, and professionalism,” it said.

Aquino likewise “left a remarkable legacy on our country’s foreign policy and national history,” according to the DFA.

“The Department offers its condolences to the President’s family and friends, and joins the Filipino people in grieving the loss of a great man, leader and nationalist,” the department added.

It was the Aquino administration that filed a case against China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In July 2016, the arbitration court issued a ruling in favor of the Philippines.

Utmost respect, admiration, gratitude – Guevarra

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday, June 24, said the late former President deserved “our utmost respect, admiration and gratitude.”

Guevarra served as deputy executive secretary for legal affairs during the latter part of the administration of the late former President.

“Leading a country like the Philippines with enormous social, economic, and political challenges is a colossal task. Anyone who accepts this awesome responsibility, like the late President Benigno Aquino III, deserves our utmost respect, admiration and gratitude,” he said.

He pointed out that “one of former President Aquino’s biggest decisions was to confront China in an international tribunal over the issue of the West Philippine Sea.”

“Only history will judge if it was his greatest decision,” he added.

Brave, fair and just – Former Onbudsman Morales

Retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales described the late former President Benigno S. Aquino III as “brave, fair and just.”

Morales administered the oath of office to the late former President in 2010.

Morales was appointed Ombudsman by the late former President in 2011 after her SC retirement. She retired as Ombudsman in 2018.

Her statement:

“It was a great honor to have served as Ombudsman when he was our President and honesty, integrity and the rule of law guided our government.

“He was brave. He went after powerful people who did wrong. But he was fair and allowed justice to prevail even to his discredit.

“He was an example of decency and earned us international respect.”

 Driven by his passion to serve our people – SC Associate Justice Leonen

Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen expressed his “profound sadness” on the passing on Thursday, June 24, of former President Aquino.

Leonen was appointed by the late former President as chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in July 2010. After the framework agreement on Bangsamoro was signed on Oct. 15, 2012, Leonen was named to the SC on Nov. 21, 2012.

Leonen’s statement:”It is with profound sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“I knew him to be a kind man, driven by his passion to serve our people, diligent in his duties, and with an avid and consuming curiousity about new knowledge and the world in general.

“I have learned a lot from him. I saw him carry his title with dignity and integrity.

“It was an honor to have served with him. He will be missed.”

You gave us a reason to dream – Diokno

“You left too soon.” This was how Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) Chairman Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno described the passing of former President Aquino on Thursday, June 24.

“You served our country well, uplifted the lives of many Filipinos, and gave us a reason to dream of a better future,” Diokno said in his social media post.

Diokno was part of the “Otso Diretso” senatorial line-up of the opposition in the 2019 polls. With reports from Jel Santos, Mario Casayuran, Jeffrey Damicog, Joseph Pedrajas, Jonathan Hicap, Rey Panaligan, Hannah Torregoza, Noreen Jazul, Allysa Nievera, Jean Fernando

 
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