Senate of the Philippines

Senate honors legacy of Noynoy Aquino: ‘He fought a good fight’

Mara Cepeda
Senate honors legacy of Noynoy Aquino: ‘He fought a good fight’

THANK YOU, PNOY. Allies and supporters view the urn bearing President Benigno Aquino III's ashes at the Church of Gesu in Ateneo de Manila University on June 25, 2021.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Senators adopt a resolution to pay tribute to the late president a month after his passing

Senators crossed party lines in honoring the late former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as the chamber adopted a resolution remembering his life and legacy as commander-in-chief on Tuesday, July 27.

The legislators were able to adopt Proposed Senate Resolution No. 760 only on Tuesday as the 18th Congress was on a break when Aquino died of renal disease secondary to diabetes on June 22. He was 61.

Senators who were dear friends of Aquino and even those who were not necessarily allied with him when he was in power recalled how Aquino’s anti-corruption drive helped stabilize the economy.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III praised Aquino – the son of democracy icons, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino –  for refusing the trappings of power even if he once became the most powerful man in the land. 

“President Noynoy Aquino chose to be humble, away from the fanfare of politics – just like how they were raised by their parents. And this is how he lived even after his term as the president. Going over all these legacies he left, all I can say is, indeed, he had fought a good fight – all of these for his beloved country and the Filipino people,” Sotto said. 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the late president will be remembered as the man who dared to challenge China’s expansive claim over the South China Sea and won the case in favor of the Philippines.

“Mr. President, PNoy will be remembered as to one who stood up to and beat China. I am certain, Mr President, that history will recognize the legacy of president Noynoy Aquino in the same manner that the nation and the Filipino people have value the legacy of his parents, former president Corazon Aquino and former senator Ninoy Aquino,” Drilon said. 

Must Read

Aquino remembered for bringing China to court, ‘international respect’ for PH

Aquino remembered for bringing China to court, ‘international respect’ for PH

As former Senate president who served under the Aquino years, Drilon said the late commander-in-chief had a “strong political will” and a “harmonious” relationship with Congress.

This allowed him to sign a number of landmark laws, from sin tax reform to the reproductive health (RH) law.

Senator Pia Cayetano, one of the champions for RH law, lauded Aquino for defying the Church to ensure Filipinos would have easier access to contraceptives.  

“So on behalf of the Filipino women, on behalf of the Filipino families, there is now evidence that more families are able to choose the family size that they want, that they can support, because of access to reproductive health services and advice. We thank our late President Noynoy Aquino for the support that he gave,” Cayetano said. 

Noynoy’s ‘true’ character

Senator Grace Poe also said she saw Aquino’s true character when she had led Senate investigations on the inefficiencies of the Metro Rail Transit system and the deadly 2015 Mamasapano clash, which saw the decline in Aquino’s public opinion ratings. 

Poe said that not once did the former president try to call her and change the findings of her committee reports. Aquino had earlier appointed Poe to head the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board before she ran for senator. 

“And that really showed me the true character of our president then. Oo, kaibigan pero pagdating sa trabaho, kailangan ‘yung sinumpaan mong pangako sa bayan ang mananaig at hindi niya ito kahit minsan sinuway,” Poe said. 

(And that really showed me the true character of our president then. Yes, we were friends, but when it comes to work, the oath that you promised to the country should always prevail, and not once did he breach this.)

Must Watch

WATCH: Noynoy Aquino’s last hours with the Filipino people

WATCH: Noynoy Aquino’s last hours with the Filipino people

Senator Joel Villanueva, a close friend of Aquino and former head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, said he was still heartbroken over the passing of the late president. 

Without directly mentioning the name of Aquino’s successor and incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, Villanueva lamented the spread of the misinformation against Aquino.

He said the former president’s decision to stay silent in the face of these attacks was “honorable and brave.”

“The misinformation cannot cast doubt on the truth about PNoy. Time will come, a fair assessment of his administration will bear the truth of his great achievements, brave decisions, and moral leadership,” Villanueva said. 

Aquino was laid to rest beside the grave of his parents at the Manila Memorial Pack in Parañaque. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.