Press Release
July 27, 2021

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH: Senate Resolution No. 760 expressing the profoundsympathy and sincere condolences of the Senate on the death of the former President Benigno Simeon Cojuanco Aquino III

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21)

Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

It is my honor to sponsor Senate Resolution No. 760 expressing the profound sympathy and sincere condolences of the Senate on the death of the former President Benigno Simeon Cojuanco Aquino III.

On June 24, 2021, the Fifteenth President of the Republic of the Philippines, Noynoy Aquino, passed away peacefully in God's hands.

Today, we pause for a while to remember him - the great man, the transformational leader, and the nation's hero.

PNoy, the proud son of Tarlac and democracy icons Cory and Ninoy, devoted all his life to his one and only true love - the Filipino people.

A love he chose to express in silence, out of the public eye, and without much fanfare after his fruitful presidential term ended.

The whole nation mourns; the rest of the world saw once more what a Filipino is capable of, and the ideals of our great country.

More importantly, the death of the former President has allowed us to take a look at our society and ourselves as individuals in the face of the pandemic.

Sa isang bansang batbat ng pagsubok at tigib ng pangamba dahil sa pandemya, ang pagpanaw ng dating lider ay tila isa pang mabigat na hagupit sa ating mga puso.

Many hearts were broken, especially of his family, friends, and former colleagues... I was shattered in a million pieces.

Bukod po sa nakasama natin si Pangulong Noynoy, dating Congressman Noynoy Aquino sa Camara. Kasama nila dating congressman Sonny Angara, congressman Migz Zubiri, congressman Win Gatchalian, congresswoman Risa Hontiveros, congresswoman Cynthia Villar, congressman Ralph Recto, ating Senate president pro tempore, at congresswoman Imee Marcos. Naging bahagi po din ako ng gabinete ni PNoy mula 2010 hanggang 2015, kasama po natin ang dating MMDA Chair, at ngayon senator Francis Tolentino, Of course , senator Lacson who is also with us. Hindi ko lamang siya naging "boss" kundi isang malapit na malapit na kaibigan.

When my mom and sister passed away last year, I asked: Is it really possible for a lightning to strike the same place twice? And when PNoy whom I consider a friend, brother, mentor and kumpare died unexpectedly, I realized that lightning really does strike the same place repeatedly, devastating us twice and thrice over.

Ang bigat sa loob na naramdaman ng kayraming Pilipino ay marahil dahil na Rin sa kawalan ng pagkakataong makapagbigay man lamang ng huling sulyap, pagpupugay, at pamamaalam sa yumaong Presidenteng hinahangaan at naging inspirasyon nila.

How can they forget their President who genuinely put his shoulder to the wheel paving the "daang matuwid" and bulldozed a "wang-wang" mentality?

Despite his admission that the Presidency requires the combined powers of "Superman and Einstein" which he could never have, he certainly had exerted super human efforts for national redemption and progress.

Sa loob ng anim na taon n'yang panunungkulan, tapat siyang naglingkod sa kanyang mga "boss" taglay ang paniniwalang "kung walang korap, walang mahirap."

In our cabinet meetings, kasama din si senator Kiko Pangilinan, doon sa Malacañang, he would always say that "the presidency is a lonely and the most thankless job in the world".

Hanggang ngayon, hindi ko pa rin maintindihan kung paano n'ya nasabi ito noon gayung ang bansang kanyang pinumunuan ay kinikilala bilang "Asia's Rising Tiger," "Asia's Rising Star," at "Asia's Bright Spot".

Personally, I thank PNoy for supporting Tech-Voc, making it an instrument for national progress. And if I was TESDAMAN, he was the TESDA Godfather.

Sa isang event sa TESDA, naaalala ko nang matapos ako sa aking talumpati, bumulong siya sa akin at sinabing hindi n'ya gusto ang isang bahagi ng sinabi ko sa mga tech-voc graduates: "Sungkitin n'yo ang inyong mga pangarap". Sabi n'ya, pinaghihirapan daw ang pangarap, hindi sinusungkit lamang.

I knew at that time that he was talking from experience. He made the Philippines, once touted as the 'sick man of Asia', into one of Asia's fastest-growing countries.

This is no coincidence or a streak of luck but a result of sheer hard work pushing the nation to go to a path that we would never otherwise go.

He supported the unprecedented success in the Tech-Voc sector since 2010. It has become our cause to empower Filipino youth to fulfill their dreams for a better life.

And the glory days of TESDA would have not been possible if not for the impressive gains of the Philippine economy under his watch.

Bago siya bumaba sa pwesto noong 2016, isa po ako sa ginawaran n'ya ng parangal, ang Order of Lakandula, para sa mga naging kontribusyon natin noon sa TESDA.

But our friendship and the love he had shown to my kids - both his inaanak, are the greater rewards.

During the awarding ceremonies in Malacañang, my wife and I were amused to see how President Noy obliged himself to carry our 5-year old son Jaden and pretended to leave the stage. But he quickly turned around to respond to my 3-year-old daughter and bunso, Gwyn, who asked where was the queen if we were in the Palace. PNoy wittingly quipped that maybe soon there will be a queen.

Mr. President, that moment still gives my wife and I goosebumps, especially now, thinking that our children have been blessed to have encountered a true hero whose memories and legacies make us all proud as Filipinos.

Napakarami n'yang napatunayan at napagtagumpayan. Subalit ang kanyang kababaang-loob, kasimplehan at pagiging maka-Diyos at makatao ang paulit-ulit kong ihahayag habang ako'y nabubuhay.

Paano nga ba magpasalamat sa isang lider na nag-angat sa napakataas na antas ang pagkilala ng buong mundo sa husay at galing ng mga Pilipino?

Paano nga ba magpasalamat sa isang Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas na hindi kailanman nagsawang magbigay ng suporta sa sektor ng edukasyon at tech-voc, at naghatid ng masayang pagbabago sa buhay ng mga Pilipino?

Mr. President, the pandemic took away a lot, but it can never take away our honor and dignity as a people. The death of former President Noynoy Aquino- who also once occupied this place as the people's Senator, proved that to be true.

The misinformation cannot cast doubt on the truth about PNoy. Time will come, a fair assessment of his administration will bear the truth of his great achievements, brave decisions, and moral leadership.

We missed him since the day when he decided to live as "citizen Noy". The man we once knew as eloquent and who was morally uncompromising in his arguments chose to live a modest and private life at their family residence in Times Street.

But as a leader who bequeathed an administration to his successor, silence is honorable and brave.

Let me end with a quote from the book of Simon Sinek,and I quote: "And when our lives are over, those who joined us on the path to fulfillment will keep going without us and inspire others to join them too."

In his Fifth State of the Nation Address in 2014, PNoy said, the "Filipino is worth fighting for".

The fight continues not because he fell by the wayside but because he had already led the rest of us into the future where our faith is strong and we serve as each other's strength.

PNoy, nilisan mo kami subalit iniwan mo sa amin ang iyong laban - ang laban sa kahirapan, laban sa korapsyon, laban para sa kapayapaan, laban para sa kalikasan, laban sa kawalan ng trabaho, laban para sa de-kalidad na edukasyon...

Ang laban mo ay laban ng bawat Pilipinong labis na naniwala sa 'yo at lubos mong nabago.

Paalam, salamat, Pangulong Noy; mula sa aming lahat, ang ipinaglaban at minahal mong Pilipinas!

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