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Senators remember Cory's greatness, simplicity

August 1, 2009 9:31am

Senators on Saturday remembered the greatness of former President Corazon Aquino as they expressed their condolences and sympathies to the family and the whole Filipino nation with her passing.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, in a television interview, said that the whole Senate is one with the Aquino family in grieving the death of the former Philippine leader.

"Dapat ipagdasal natin ang dating pangulo sa kanyang pagpanaw sa ating mundo. Sana kukupkupin siya ng Panginoon kung saan man siya pupunta (We should pray for the former President. May the Lord keep her wherever she is)," Enrile said.

He added that the Filipino people should be grateful to Mrs. Aquino for her contribution in bringing back freedom and democracy in the country.

Siya ay kasama natin sa lahat ng pangyayari upang matapos ang rehimen ng dating Pangulong (Ferdinand) Marcos (She was with us in our fight to end the regime of former President Marcos)," he said.

Enrile, together with then Armed Forces of the Philippines vice chief of staff Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, led a military uprising in February 1986 that sparked the EDSA “People Power Revolution" and toppled the Marcos regime.

Recently, Aquino’s former foes, including Enrile, decided to bury the hatchet and join the nation in praying for her.

In a text message to GMANews.TV, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said he had mixed feelings upon learning Mrs. Aquino’s death. Pimentel served as Mrs. Arroyo's interior and local government secretary.

"Sad a dear friend has passed away. Glad for the selfless service she rendered to our people. Cory is irreplaceable and her integrity in public service is beyond compare," Pimentel said.

In an earlier press statement, he said Mrs. Aquino epitomized hope, sincerity and moral courage when she discharged the role that fate assigned to her upon the assassination of her husband, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.

Pimentel said he saw how Mrs. Aquino accepted the challenge of leading the fight against the Marcos authoritarian regime without any hesitation, but with personal conviction.

"We shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy unmindful of the risks and personal sacrifices that she faced during those turbulent days," said Pimentel who also served as chief negotiator with Moro rebels during the Aquino administration.

Nation's loss

Senator Edgardo Angara describe Mrs. Aquino’s death as an "irretrievable loss for the nation."

"President Cory sets the example for peoples everywhere to regain their power through prayers and flowers," he said in a separate text message to GMANews.TV.

In a press statement, Senator Manuel Roxas II said Mrs. Aquino’s dreams will live on and will never be defeated despite her death. “Tita Cory stood for the unity and reconciliation of our people."

“We saw how the EDSA revolution that was sparked by Tita Cory reverberated globally. It inspired peoples all over Eastern Europe and Latin America to bring down authoritarian rule without violence, to the extent that even the Berlin wall was torn down three years later. The whole world owes much to her shining example," Roxas said.

He said Mrs. Aquino joins the ranks of the greatest freedom fighters of the last and current century— Ghandi, Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, among several others who have devoted their life and being to principle that there is nothing more precious than the liberty and dignity of human beings.

The senator asked politicians "to set aside our partisan interests, tone down our partisan voices and pray as one nation for her peace and the peace that she dreamt for all of us."

Senator Francis Escudero said Mrs. Aquino’s story should forever inspire the present and future generations of Filipinos, and serve as a constant reminder that the Filipino is worth fighting for.

"In democracy’s darkest hour, she joined many others in confronting a repressive dictatorship. Her willingness to accept the daunting challenge of running against Ferdinand Marcos––despite criticism that she was a “mere housewife"–– served as a catalyst for an unprecedented bloodless uprising that would lead to the restoration of democracy and the reinstitution of the many freedoms we enjoy and cherish today," Escudero said in a press statement.

"Experience shows us that an honorable and virtuous president who leads by example will always enjoy the respect of her fellow leaders and her people. And Cory’s life teaches us that with an unwavering faith and a sincere desire to serve the nation, any Filipino can make a difference," he added.

Independent senator Francis “Kiko" Pangilinan said Mrs. Aquino will forever be remembered as “the Philippine president who inspired our people to rise up against tyranny and usher in the renewal of democracy in the country. “

“We are grateful for that legacy. It was through her that we found our voices and gained the courage to express ourselves freely and without fear. She was able to unite a country that was bound and gagged for so long, and lead them towards freedom and democracy. She displayed self-sacrifice by stepping down when she knew her work was done; a rarity in Philippine politics."

“We are saddened by her passing, yet we will forever be grateful for her legacy," Pangilinan said.

Senator Richard Gordon, in a text message, said Mrs. Aquino will always be fondly remembered for the legacy of the peaceful transition of power that brought about change, transformation and a new era of democracy.

Sen. Loren Legarda said: The death of Cory Aquino should serve to remind us of the kind of courage and unity we should show amid lingering threats to our collective freedoms. Her death and the sacrifices she made for the Filipino people will have greater meaning if we stop relying on icons of democracy and do what we can as a people, one and united. That’s the greatest tribute we can give her.

Chimed in Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, “I condole and offer my prayers to the passing of a leader of all
generations, Mrs. Corazon Aquino, who until her remaining years continued to inspire and guide our countrymen toward the ideals of public service and the true essence of democracy."

“Let us consciously carry on her legacy for the sake of the country she very well loved," he added.

’Just call me Cory’

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon remembered Mrs. Aquino as a down-to-earth person even when she was already in power.

He recalled his first close encounter with Mrs. Aquino when he was still a Marine colonel and she was just three days into her presidency in February 1986. Mrs. Aquino called him to her office to discuss a rehabilitation program for armed rebel groups.

Sumaludo ako sa kanya, sabi ko, ‘Mrs. President this is a very rare opportunity and privilege for a soldier to meet face to face with his commander-in-chief.’ Alam mo ang kasimplehan niya, sinabi niya sa akin, ‘Tawagin mo na lang akong Cory’ (I saluted her and told her, ‘Mrs. President, this is a very rare opportunity and privilege for a soldier to meet face to face with his commander-in-chief.’ She was so simple, she told me, ‘Just call me Cory’)," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

Di ko nga malaman kung saludo ko itutuloy ko o hahalikan ko ang kamay niya, o luluhod ako. Iba ang aura niya that day (I did not know whether to continue saluting, kiss her hand, or kneel. Her aura was different that day)," he added.

At the time – Feb. 28, 1986, Biazon was brigade commander of the Philippine Marines in Davao and was summoned to Mrs. Aquino’s office, then at the Cojuangco Building in Makati City.

He had just submitted a rehabilitation and reconciliation program for rebel forces including the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Biazon eventually served as commandant of the Philippine Marines from 1987 to 89, commanding general of the NCR Defense Command in 1988 to 1990, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff in 1990 to 1991 and AFP chief of staff in 1991.

'Yung opisina niya noon, Cojuangco Building sa Makati. Gwardya doon na napansin ko di military kundi blue guards (Her office was at the Cojuangco Building in Makati. The guards were not military guards but civilian security guards)," Biazon recalled. - Kimberly Jane Tan, GMANews.TV