Lawmakers pay last respects to ‘Iron Lady’
MANILA, Philippines – Fellow lawmakers of the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago visited her on the first day of her wake on Thursday, September 30, at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City.
Former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr was among the first ones to bid goodbye to Santiago who died early Thursday morning after a long battle with lung cancer.
Belmonte said her relationship with Santiago goes beyond government service, which is why her demise is “especially painful” for him.
“Kumare ko ‘yan eh. I am the godfather of his late son. And of course, as a legislator myself, I’ve seen her as a great statesman,” he told reporters after visiting the wake. “Our country definitely has lost one of its greatest statesmen."
Santiago’s former Senate colleagues – Ferdinand Marcos Jr and incumbent Taguig 2nd District Representative Pia Cayetano – arrived later in the evening.
Marcos, who ran with Santiago in the last elections, expressed his sadness over her passing. “Philippine politics and public service will greatly lose [from Santiago’s death]. That’s why even if it is a good evening, I am still very sad,” he said in Filipino. (READ: Bongbong recalls last advice from Santiago)
“She is really brilliant. But what I admire about her is her capacity to simplify complicated issues. Her jokes, yes, we laugh about them. But when we think about it, there’s a lesson in those jokes,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. (IN PHOTOS: The life and times of Miriam Santiago)
Cayetano, on the other hand, could barely express her grief. “She was more than a colleague to me. She was a life mentor,” she said.
“I’ve known her from the start to be [a] very loving, [a]very considerate woman. That's my relationship with her. She would always be concerned with [how] I am so when I saw her [remains], I was sad,” she told reporters.
Aside from the 3 legislators, Ilocos Norte First District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas also visited Santiago.
The late senator’s remains will be open for public viewing. She is set to be interred on Sunday, October 2, at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. (READ: Miriam Santiago to be buried October 2 in Marikina)– Rappler.com