Philippine Catholic Church leaders cited former president Benigno Aquino’s “deep dedication to democracy, good governance and the dignity of the human person.”
Aquino, the son of two of the Southeast Asian country’s democracy icons, died in a Manila hospital on Thursday, June 24, of renal failure as a result of diabetes.
In a statement, the country’s Catholic bishops said they are “grateful for the mutual respect that existed between [Aquino’s] administration and the Catholic Church in the Philippines.”
The Church leaders described the relationship as “rooted in our unwavering faith in the Triune God, and our shared commitment to build a just, humane society, especially for those who are in need.”
“We remember too, with gratitude, the role and participation he and his administration played in ensuring the success of the Canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod in 2012,” said the bishops.
They also cited the role Aquino played durin the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis in 2015, and the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City in 2016.
“We commend his soul to our Heavenly Father, confident in His mercy and love,” read the bishops’ statement signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“We offer our condolences and prayers to the Aquino family, the friends and colleagues of the former president, and the entire Filipino nation as we mourn the passing of president Aquino,” said the bishops.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared June 24 to July 3 as period of national mourning, with the national flag to be flown at half-mast on all government buildings, for the death of Aquino.
“I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Aquino family,” Duterte said in a speech. “Please accept the love and the prayers of a grateful nation.”
Vice President Leni Robredo, who ran under the then Aquino-led ruling party when elected in 2016, said it was “heart-breaking” to hear of his death.
“He tried to do what was right, even when it was not popular,” she said in a statement. “He worked quietly and tirelessly for the good of everyone. He will be missed.”
Known popularly as Noynoy, Aquino rode a wave of public support to the presidency after the 2009 death of his mother, the revered “People Power” leader Corazon Aquino, who was herself president from 1986 until 1992.
His namesake father, a senator who staunchly opposed the rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated when he returned home from political exile in 1983.
The killing shocked the nation and helped propel Marcos out of office in the 1986 People Power revolution and ushered in his mother’s presidency.
In a statement, Senator Imee Marcos, daughter of the late dictator, paid tribute to Aquino for his “kind and simple soul” and said he would be deeply missed.
Aquino still carried a bullet wound from an attempted military coup in 1987 against his mother’s administration, during which he was shot five times and three of his bodyguards were killed. – with a Reuters report