Remembering PNoy’s final days in Malacañang

Published June 25, 2021, 7:27 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

‘It’s an honor to serve the Filipino nation’

•       Aquino demonstrated humble and principled governance and left a legacy forging the country’s economic resilience, a peace pact with Muslim separatists, a landmark court victory asserting the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea, among others. 

•       He was catapulted to the presidency with a campaign slogan of “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap.” His mantra evolved into “Daang Matuwid” and “Kayo ang boss ko,” indicating his commitment to incorruptible and selfless governance.

•       Under Aquino’s watch, the country shed its old reputation as the “Sick Man of Asia” and emerged as Asia’s Bright Spot or Asia’s New Tiger with the economy growing an average of 6.2 percent.

•       Around 7.7 million Filipinos have been lifted out of poverty with the help of the cash subsidy program while more than six million have landed gainful employment.

•       The government’s health care program covered more than 93 million Filipinos.

President Benigno Aquino III (Manila Bulletin file photo)

His administration’s “Daang Matuwid” was more than a snappy slogan.

Then President Benigno Aquino III had a challenging six-year term but left Malacañang in 2016 without feeling fear or worry.

Aquino demonstrated humble and principled governance and left a legacy forging the country’s economic resilience, a peace pact with Muslim separatists, a landmark court victory asserting the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea, among others.

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

A few days before stepping down from office in 2016, Aquino, fondly called PNoy by many Filipinos, talked about efforts to make a “government for others” and how he was content with the administration’s accomplishments.

“If my dad could only see what we’ve done together, maybe he would be a little less inclined to sing ‘The Impossible Dream.’ As we leave office, we can do so with our heads held high, because we’ve done right by the Filipino people,” he said before an assembly of government workers in Malacañang on June 23, 2016.

On the same day, Aquino beamed with pride about leaving a country better than he found it.

“Totoo pong maipapamana natin sa susunod na henerasyon ang isang bansang mas maunlad at mas masigla. Hanggang sa mga huling sandali po: Isang karangalan ang makapaglingkod sa dakilang lahi ng Pilipino) It is true we will leave a country more prosperous and vibrant. Until the last moment: It is an honor to serve the great Filipino nation),” Aquino said in a June 23, 2016 Department of Health anniversary event at the Manila Hotel.

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

Aquino, the country’s 15th president, died on Thursday, June 24, at the age of 61. Messages of condolence and tributes have flooded from family, friends, political allies and even rivals, and international community since the announcement of Aquino’s death. A 10-day period of national mourning has been declared until July 3, 2021 in his honor.

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

Back in 2010, the son of freedom icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino was catapulted to the presidency with a campaign slogan of “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap.” His mantra evolved into “Daang Matuwid” and “Kayo ang boss ko,” indicating his commitment to incorruptible and selfless governance. A “no wang-wang policy” was also laid down both in the country’s roads as well as the bureaucracy as Aquino sought to dismantle a sense of entitlement and red tape.

Days before his “graduation” from the presidency, Aquino used the final string of public speeches to highlight his government’s record and show gratitude to the people.

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

“I have no cause for fear, or worry. I will be leaving behind a Philippines renowned for its economic resilience and for its commitment to inclusivity,” Aquino said. “I will be leaving behind a citizenry ready to work with able, trustworthy partners…I will be leaving my office as someone who remained true to his Bosses: the Filipino people,” said the popular leader.

Under Aquino’s watch, the country shed its old reputation as the “Sick Man of Asia” and emerged as Asia’s Bright Spot or Asia’s New Tiger with the economy growing an average of 6.2 percent.

Around 7.7 million Filipinos have been lifted out of poverty with the help of the cash subsidy program while more than six million have landed gainful employment under Aquino’s watch. The government’s health care program covered more than 93 million Filipinos.

“Malinaw naman sa ating kasaysayan: Walang problemang nalutas dahil sa mga taong walang pakialam. Ito nga ang dahilan kung bakit namin sinikap na maging government for others (It is clear that in our history: No problem is solved because of people who do not care. This is why we strived to make a government for others),” he said in his June 2016 commencement speech at the Ateneo de Manila University.

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

“Isinara natin ang mga minanang backlog sa classroom, textbook, at upuan sa mga paaralan. Tinanggal natin ang wangwang sa mga sistema at proseso ng pamahalaan (We closed the inherited backlog in classroom, textbook, and chairs in schools. We removed the sirens in our system and government processes),” he said.

Aquino was also proud about contributing to the modernization of the police and military, citing the equipment upgrade and training they needed.

After the controversial standoff in Panatag Shoal, his administration filed a case against China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In 2016, the court handed down a ruling in favor of the Philippines although China has refused to recognize the arbitral award.

(Manila Bulletin file photo)

Before handing the reins of power to then President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, Aquino hoped that the next administration would build on his government’s gains to further the country’s stability and progress.

“Now that our time in office is coming to an end, we must continue to do our own, small part in the grand task of building a nation. And I hope that, perhaps even on an unofficial level, we may still find ourselves working together, as fellow citizens this time, to give rise to a Philippines that we can be truly proud of,” he said.

 
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