Panelo: PNoy a gentleman despite political differences

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo described the late President Benigno Aquino III as a "gentleman" who only had nice things to say despite his political differences with the current administration.

A Malacañang file photo shows President Benigno S. Aquino III taking at the Pasig River from the Palace window on the final day in 2016

Panelo made the statement following Aquino's death on Thursday, June 24, to renal disease secondary to diabetes. He was 61.

In a statement, Panelo commended the country's 15th president for being a gentleman.

"I remember the former President as a gentleman who had always something nice to say about this representation despite our political and ideological differences," he said.

The Palace official likewise said he was impressed by Aquino's knowledge about an issue concerning national interest during a meeting with President Duterte.

"In a rare occasion that engaged three former Presidents of the Republic and the current President in a frank discussion on an issue involving national interest that I have been privileged to witness, I was impressed with the late PNoy’s depth of knowledge of the subject matter," he said.

In July 2016, the first month of his administration, President Duterte met with former presidents Aquino, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, and Fidel Ramos in Malacañang.

According to the Palace, among the issues that Duterte discussed with the four former presidents and the National Security Council (NSC) were the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the West Philippine Sea.

Meanwhile, Panelo wrote in his statement that Malacañang was one with the public in praying "for the eternal repose of soul."

"While PRRD and his predecessor have differences in the approach and concentration in managing the intricate affairs of the country, the goal of both have always been to improve the lives of our citizens," he said.

"Hence, we join the Filipino people in praying for the eternal repose of President Noynoy Aquino as we pay tribute to his accomplishments as a public servant," he added.

Panelo said that despite differences, the Duterte administration has recognized many of the reforms in governance that Aquino, known as PNoy, sought during his term.

"As among the youngest presidents of our country, PNoy embarked on a campaign against corruption and abuse as he sought ways to implement reforms in governance," he said.

"He adopted programs which also helped improve key sectors, such our country's education system, social development, and poverty eradication, as well as our national economy, a number of which have been recognized, if not pursued, by this administration," he added.

President Duterte himself has expressed his condolences to the family of his predecessor. He encouraged the public to be inspired by PNoy's legacy.