Senators on Salonga: 'A statesman of the highest order'
MANILA, Philippines – Former and current senators of the country paid tribute to former Senate President Jovito "Jovy" Salonga on Tuesday morning, March 15, at the Senate building in Pasay City.
"He was...an outstanding public servant, a statesman of the highest order, a pillar of democracy, an indefatigable fighter for truth and justice whose brilliance and integrity were unparalleled," Senator Loren Legarda said in her eulogy during the necrological services for Salonga.
Salonga died on Thursday, March 10, at the age of 95.
Like Legarda, Senate President Franklin Drilon lauded Salonga as "a great statesman whose uncommon valor, brilliance, and integrity captivated generations of Filipinos." (READ: Fast Facts: Jovito Salonga)
"Senator Jovito Reyes Salonga belonged to a rare breed of mankind: a politician with scruples and a leader with principles. His life and work inspired me and a legion of his admirers to emulate him," Drilon recalled.
He considers Salonga a mentor and friend: "Thank you for the privilege of knowing you and sharing a space in our nation's political life with you. Thank you for giving the best years of your life to the motherland." (READ: The life, love and struggles of Jovito Salonga)
'A man of humility'
Both senators remembered how Salonga’s "fierce loyalty" to the Philippines led him to vote against the RP-US Bases Treaty in 1991.
Former Senator Wigberto Tañada, one of the the "Magnificient 12" who voted with Salonga against the bases, said the former senate president "put the country first before himself."
"Before he banged the gavel that signaled the defeat of the US military bases treaty, Salonga explained his decisive vote: 'I have been warned by well-meaning friends that this stand on the treaty may hurt my chances of becoming president. No matter. That is an inconsequential matter,'" Tañada recalled.
The senators also remembered Salonga as a man of humility despite his many achievements in life, a man whose deep faith in God sustained him during the lowest times of his political life, and a man of courage who fought hard to restore the country’s freedom.
"He vigorously opposed the dictatorship in 1972 and defended cases that both involved well-known political prisoners and obscure detainees," Legarda said.
Drilon, for his part, hoped Salonga’s life will inspire today’s youth to "protect our hard-won democracy."
Former Senate President Edgardo Angara, meanwhile, said Salonga "initiated, restored, reinstated, and restrengthened" the country's education and health systems, governance, social housing, and agrarian reform.
"When Jovy took over, the per capita income was P13,000. When his term ended, it doubled to almost P24,000. Of course, it's much higher now because the GDP has grown almost 5 times," Angara said.
He added: "But just to emphasize that his quiet, but effective, humble not loud leadership, led to the laying down of the foundation that now provides us the promise of what he said, prosperity and security to our people so that one day, in the fullness of time, we will have a free society where the weak shall be strong and the strong shall be just."
Salonga's remains will be buried Wednesday, March 15, at the Pasig Cemetery. (READ: PH mourns death of 'great Filipino' Jovy Salonga) – Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler.com