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Former colleagues recall Aquino’s passion for service

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • 17:00 PM Thu Jun 24, 2021
Benjamin Pulta/PNA
Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

MANILA – Senators recalled how ex-president Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III, also their former colleague, fulfilled his duties as a public servant with fervor.

Aquino died at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City on Thursday. He was 61.

Senator Imee Marcos remembered they were both neophytes in Congress in 1998 — she from Ilocos Norte’s Second District and Aquino from Tarlac.

She said she “will always treasure the memories of our long years together as freshmen legislators” and until 2007.

“For beyond politics and much public acrimony, I knew Noynoy as a kind and simple soul. He will be deeply missed,” she said in a statement.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who also won a seat at the House of Representatives as Bukidnon solon in 1998, said he had always “recognized and respected how committed he was as a public servant”.

“Through his time as congressman, as senator, and eventually as President, he was able to balance the weight of being an Aquino, carrying all the history of the name, and all the expectations that came with it, while also carving a path for himself," he stated.

Senator Grace Poe thanked Aquino for his service.

"Sa nagbukas ng pinto ng serbisyo publiko para sa atin, maraming salamat sa iyong legasiya ng pagsisilbi nang buong katapatan at dedikasyon (To you who opened the doors of public service, I thank you for your legacy of selfless service and dedication)," she said.

Senator Cynthia Villar said she has "only fond memories of working with him during his term as President.”

“We passed many relevant legislations then. I remember he fondly called me Ma'am Cynthia, which he said is a sign of respect dahil nasabi nya nga dati na noong Speaker of the House pa si Manny, nagsilbi daw akong parang ina sa kanilang mga bagitong kongresista pa noon (because when my husband Manny served as Speaker of the House, I was like a mother to neophytes like him),” she said.

“Like his parents, Ninoy and Cory, Noynoy's legacy will be an important part of Philippine history. May his soul rest in eternal peace," Villar added.

Senator Joel Villanueva, appointed by Aquino as Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), said he was "shattered in million pieces" upon learning of his friend’s passing.

"The nation lost a leader, and I, a friend. But he was more than that. He was a mentor, a brother to me," Villanueva, who earned the moniker “Tesdaman”, said in a statement. “He believed in the great talents of our youth, waiting to be unlocked if given good training, right breaks, and inspiring success stories.”

"No matter what political side you're on, when a former president passes away, the country mourns," Senate President Vicente Sotto III said. (PNA)

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