De Lima grieves passing of PNoy, says PH lost a great leader


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has mourned the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III whom she regards as a proud Filipino and a true public servant.

De Lima, who was Justice Secretary during the Aquino Administration, said the nation has lost a great leader “who served with all his heart, not just to continue the legacy of his parents, but to also offer his life to lead our nation on a righteous path.”

“It is with an immensely heavy heart that I learned of Sir PNoy’s passing. I’m in a state of utter disbelief and indescribable grief. Sobrang napakabigat sa loob,” she said in a handwritten message.

“As the Filipino nation and the whole world mourn his passing, our love and admiration show that he was never alone; that we are truly grateful for everything he has done and sacrificed,” she added.

Aquino, popularly known as PNoy, passed away on Thursday at the age of 61. His family said he died peacefully of renal failure as a result of diabetes.

As President from 2010-2016, Aquino was praised for reviving the Philippine economy and his staunch defense of the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), among others.

During Aquino’s term, the Philippines turned into a rising economic star as the country’s economy grew an average of 6.2%, which was the fastest since the 1970s.

It was also under his administration that the Philippines challenged China’s legal basis for its expansive claim on the WPS before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, and won the case in a landmark award in 2016 after the tribunal invalidated Beijing’s assertions.

For her and for the millions of Filipinos he served and inspired, De Lima said Aquino has lived “a fulfilled and selfless life.”

“PNoy often shared to us what his father said: ‘I would never be able to forgive myself if I will have to live with the knowledge that I could have done something and did not do anything.’ And this is the very wisdom that PNoy has lived by,” she shared.

Sa bawat instruction niya sa akin noon bilang miyembro ng kanyang Gabinete, hanggang sa mga simpleng kuwentuhan at pag-uusap naming dalawa, alam mo na napakabuti niyang tao, at ang puso niya ay para sa kung anong ikabubuti ng mga Pilipino,” she recalled.

If there is anything she regrets, De Lima said it is knowing that “hindi na niya [Aquino] nasilayan ang muling pagbawi at pagkakaisa ng Pilipino para bumalik sa tuwid at makatarungang landas na kaniyang ipinaglaban.”

In a separate statement posted on Twitter, De Lima recalled that she joined the Aquino administration because she believed in the former President’s principles and leadership style despite not knowing him personally.

“For myself, I did not follow the man. I followed the path he was on because I believed that it leads to a better place. That was why I joined the PNoy administration. I didn’t know him then, and he didn’t know me beyond our respective track records. But we found ourselves on the same path because we both believed it leads to a better Philippines for all Filipinos,” said she.

“Sadly, we have lost another good person, but PNoy would be the first to say that we can fight the good fight with or without him. Of course we will, it is just that the fight is more worthwhile with people like him by our side and among our ranks. People who really do care both in their words and in their deeds.”

“It has been an honor serving the Filipino people with you, Sir. Your march may have ended, but our fight goes on para sa Mahal na Sambayanang Pilipino,” she added. (30)

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