Ex-president Benigno Aquino buried, now Filipinos make calls for decency, dignity

Relatives of former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III marching on during the burial, at the Manila Memorial Park, in Paranaque city, Metro Manila, Philippines, on June 26, 2021. - Reuters

MANILA, June 27 (dpa): Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino was buried on Saturday (June 26) amid calls for Filipinos to honour his legacy by remembering to choose leaders who are decent and to never again compromise the people's dignity.

The 61-year-old Aquino, popularly known as Noynoy, died on Thursday due to renal disease, secondary to diabetes.

He was president from 2010 to 2016, and was credited for cementing a Philippine economic revival, passing a controversial reproductive health law and filing a successful arbitration case against China over the disputed South China Sea.

"The best eulogy tribute we can pay to our dear President Noynoy is to bring back, recover, preserve, safeguard and never again to compromise our dignity as a people and the decency of our leaders as servants, not bosses," Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in his homily at the funeral Mass for the bachelor president.

"The flags at half mast are not only for the dead president but for the dying decent governance," he added.

The rule of Aquino's successor, President Rodrigo Duterte, has been characterized by a violent illegal drug war that has left thousands dead, vulgar and misogynistic statements, and constant threats of arrests or being killed for opposing his policies.

"Maybe, and I do hope, his death will spark another fire within us to resurrect his example of decency and integrity," Villegas said.

"The sincerest form of tribute to President Noynoy is to relive his life lessons of decency and ethical leadership, recover honour and dignity in our private and public lives, among us private citizens and among our leaders," Villegas said.

Aquino's ashes were interred beside the tombs of his parents - two of the Philippines' democracy icons - after a simple ceremony and a 21-gun salute.

The Bureau of Fire Protection also gave the former president a water cannon salute at the start of a 30-kilometre funeral convoy to the memorial park.

People lined up along the route of the funeral convoy, waving yellow ribbons or cloths and Philippine flags.

They flashed the L sign, meaning "fight," a symbol popularized by his late mother, former president Corazon Aquino, who was propelled to power by an uprising that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

His father, senator Benigno Aquino Junior, was a staunch Marcos critic who was assassinated in 1983 upon return to the Philippines from exile in the United States.

Noynoy Aquino stayed out of the public eye after his term as president and refused to give statements about Duterte and controversies in the current government.

Duterte, who often criticized Aquino's past policies, declared a 10-day period of mourning over his predecessor's death until July 3, and hailed his "family’s legacy of offering their lives for the cause of democracy." - dpa

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