'Salamat, PNoy': Senators recall simplicity, humility of former president

Published June 26, 2021, 4:00 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

“Simpleng tao, walang yabang, nag-aaral.”

These were the words used by Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon to describe former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who, he added, had always made sure that he would not violate laws in every decision he made.

President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III looks at the Pasig River from his office in Malacañang for the last time on his final day as Philippine president on June 29, 2016. (Malacañang File Photo)

Aquino’ ashes were laid to rest on Saturday, June 26, beside his parents, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino III and former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

“Simpleng tao, walang yabang, nag-aaral. At bago po magdesisyon, lahat ng anggulo tinitignan niya (He is simple, no trace of arrogance, and he always studies. And before he decide on matters, he would always look at all angles),” Drilon said of the former president in an interview over radio DWIZ.

“Talagang importante sa kanya na kung ano mang gagawin niya ay sang-ayon sa Saligang Batas at sa mga batas na umiiral (It was really important to him that everything he does would adhere to the Constitution and other existing laws),” he added.

Drilon, who served as Senate President during Aquino’s presidency, shared that every time the former president calls for a meeting in Malacañang, the latter would always have a book of the Constitution ready for his reference.

The former chief executive would also always ask him about laws, Drilon said, since he, too, served as justice secretary under the administration of former Pres. Cory Aquino.

Drilon said Aquino had never been negatively affected by the allegations hurled against him, and preferred to face them head on and respond.

Despite the issues against him even after his presidency, Drilon said the sympathy of Filipinos on his passing proved Aquino’s work in government.

“Maraming ‘pong taong pumila sa kalsada, sumigaw ng pangalan ni Noynoy. Doon ko narealize na talagang malawak ang suporta ng Panglong Noynoy sa ating mga kababayan (Many lined up in the streets, shouted his name. That’s when I realized that President Noynoy still enjoys the support of many of our countrymen),” said the opposition lawmaker, who joined the funeral rites of the former president on Saturday.

“Iyan po ay hindi trolls, ‘yan po ay tunay na damdamin na nakita ko, ng ating mga kababayan sa pagkilala ng nagawa ni Pangulong Noynoy sa ating bansa (Those people were not trolls, they showed the true sentiment of our people in recognizing the contributions of President Noynoy to our country),” he added.

For his part, Sen. Joel Villanueva, who served as director-general of the TESDA under the PNoy administration, recalled that Aquino would always call him out for “breaking protocols”.

He posted on Twitter an instance when Aquino mentioned his energetic introduction of the former president in some events.

“Hirap po sundan ang ating kalihim dito sa TESDA, parang nakainom na ng sampung tasa ng kape. Buhay na buhay, baka sabihin naman nanlalambot tayo dito,” Aquino was recorded saying in jest.

“Talagang masarap pero nakaka-tense ipakilala si PNoy. Noon pa man ay dama ko na po kung gaano siya kadakila bilang lider at kung gaano siya kasimple bilang tao (It would always be a pleasure but I was always tensed to introduce PNoy. Ever since, I would always feel his excellence as a leader and his simplicity as a person),” Villanueva tweeted.

Ex-senator and Aquino’s cousin, Bam Aquino, likewise paid tribute to the late former president as he was laid to rest.

“Kasabay ng ating pagluluksa ay pag-alala sa lahat ng kabutihang iniwan ni PNoy sa ating bayan. Maraming salamat sa pagiging tapat, mahusay, at mabuting tao na taos kung magmahal. Hindi ka namin malilimutan, Kuya Noy. #SalamatPNoy (Along with our grief are memories of all the contributions made by PNoy to our country. Thank you for being honest, excellent, and being a good man. We will not forget you, Kuya Noy. Thank you, PNoy),” he also tweeted.

Aquino died in his sleep on Thursday morning, June 24, due to renal failure secondary to diabetes. He was 61.

On Saturday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed a resolution conveying the Upper Chamber’s sympathy and condolences on Aquino’s passing.