Senators mourn death of ‘NPC big boss’ Danding Cojuangco

Aika Rey

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Senators mourn death of ‘NPC big boss’ Danding Cojuangco
(UPDATED) Nationalist People's Coalition members at the Senate recount Danding Cojuangco's contributions to politics and business

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senators on Wednesday, June 17, mourned the passing of tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr, the founder and chairman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

NPC stalwart Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Cojuangco’s death “leaves a big hole.”

“The legacy and vision of NPC’s big boss will continue with all its members, friends, and especially, among his family,” Sotto said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, an NPC member, recounted that Cojuangco had guided him as a young public servant.

“I have been with the NPC since the start of my political career and I witnessed how he has shaped, over decades, the ideals and objectives of the party that centered on love for country. He treated us like family and I will remain grateful for his support,” Gatchalian said.

Aside from Sotto and Gatchalian, Senator Lito Lapid is also a member of the NPC.

Lapid said he is indebted to Cojuangco, who supported him to victory as Pampanga governor in 1992 and during his comeback to the Senate in 2019.

“Si Boss Danding, kasama ng buong puwersa ng NPC, ang tumulong sa akin para maipanalo ang unang sabak ko noon sa pulitika. Isang bagay na hindi ko kailanman malilimutan,” Lapid said.

(It was Boss Danding, along with the support of the entire NPC, who helped me win my first foray into politics. That is one thing I will never forget.)

“Si Boss Danding ay hindi lamang lider ng isa sa pinakamatatag at malaking partido sa buong bansa. Siya rin ay isang tunay na kaibigang malalapitan sa lahat ng pagkakataon. Kaya gano’n na lamang ang taas ng aking respeto at lalim ng aking pagpapahalaga sa aming pagkakaibigan,” Lapid added.

(Boss Danding is not only a leader of one of the most established and biggest political parties in the country. He was also a friend I could turn to anytime. That’s why I have high respect for him and I deeply valued our friendship.)

‘Philosophy to help the needy’

Senator Grace Poe said Cojuangco had “looked for ways” to empower communities. The NPC supported Poe’s presidential bid in 2016.

Poe added: “He opened up opportunities for pervasive success as he believed deeply in the capabilities of Filipinos. We are saddened by his passing, but we celebrate a legacy, too, of the man behind iconic Filipino brands who in so many ways gave his share to make our country better.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto noted that San Miguel Corporation (SMC), of which Cojuangco served as chairman and chief executive officer, was driven by the tycoon’s “philosophy to help the needy.”

“SMC’s profit is the labor of thousands of its officers and employees. But SMC’s decision to give more than P1 billion in the national pandemic fight, in ways longer than its product catalogue, was the corporate implementation of Danding’s philosophy to help the needy,” Recto said.

“When profits give way to service during a national crisis, we know who was responsible for SMC passing its corporate citizenship test.”

Senator Sonny Angara likewise hailed Cojuangco’s charitable acts – “unsolicited, done sans fanfare, and many anonymously.”

“The financials of his companies are meticulously recorded, but he kept no accounting of the help he extended to the needy, especially from the provinces close to his heart,” Angara said.

“These were sick people hospitalized, bright young people sent to college, OFWs in distress helped, small businessmen extended loans, and many more.”

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also noted Cojuangco’s contributions to politics, business, and sports.

“He has done so much. In the political arena, of course, but especially in business. He took San Miguel to such great heights, and opened up employment opportunities to tens of thousands of Filipinos across the nation,” Zubiri said. 

“I can hardly imagine what the PBA would be like without his support,” Zubiri added.

Senator Joel Villanueva and Senator Nancy Binay also expressed their condolences to the Cojuangco family.

Cojuangco is a known Marcos crony and uncle of former president Benigno Aquino III. He founded the NPC in 1992 and ran for president that year, shortly after the government seized the coconut levy assets, but lost to retired general Fidel V. Ramos. (READ: Coco levy fund scam: Gold for the corrupt, crumbs for farmers)

Cojuangco was also governor of his home province Tarlac in the late 1960s and a former ambassador to the United States.

In 2017, Cojuangco returned to the NPC as its chairman to prepare the party for the 2019 elections. The party is now allied with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.