The nation mourns the passing of the country’s 12th president, certainly one of our greatest, dearly loved and admired not only for his contribution in uplifting the country, but, most of all, for reviving the pride and morale of the Filipino people.
FVR facilitated the country’s return to democracy after decades of martial law, suppressed two coup attempts, built consensus with former political rivals, and brokered the 1996 Peace Agreement between representatives of the Muslim rebels and government.
He transformed the military into a peace-making force. It was during his time and the few years after his term that the country experienced remarkable development at many fronts.
He dismantled monopolies in telecommunications and other large business corporations and opened up the economy thus encouraging competition and participation by various sectors.
It was with this creative energy and vision that he had transformed the country into coming close to a tiger economy after being perceived as the “sick man of Asia” for many years.
On a personal note, I am much pleased and honored to have had the privilege of continuing interactions with him during his term and later, when as Citizen Eddie, he continued to make himself available as speaker or guest of honor in many of our activities. Like him, I am a Pangasinense and a Protestant as well.
When I was appointed by President Cory as one of the 48 members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, he sent me a note of congratulation. It was also he who handed me the Award of Recognition for my role in the cooperative movement. I am grateful likewise for his having appointed me to the National Centennial of the Philippines chaired by the late Vice-President Doy Laurel. It was in this project where we (the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) were able to work on projects such as preparing frameworks for communication activities for the centennial and implementing the program which included a compilation of papers by social scientists and historians that tried to rectify historical distortions, among others. At the UNESCO National Commission (where I was also appointed by him as commissioner), I represented the country at several biennial conferences and meetings abroad.
He wrote the preface to a UNESCO- AIJC research project that I had conceptualized and edited, “Muslim and Christian Cultures- In Search of Commonalities.” For several years, he would buy dozens of copies of the book from us which he would present to development partners in various countries of the world.
In the preface, he noted: “The book not only offers a timely discourse on the commonalities shared by Muslim, Christian and ethnic Filipinos, but more importantly, a new perspective on how our leaders in government, civil society, academe, business and media can best address issues of peace and development. Efforts towards its attainment should be sustained and more bridges have to be built to connect our minds and our hearts to one another.”
I share the sentiments of most of those who have had the privilege of knowing this warm-hearted, kind, wonderful man. He will be missed by millions of Filipinos who are hungry for leaders who represent attributes of nobility, integrity and respectability.
My profound condolences to the family, and may he rest in peace.
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