MANILA – Former and incumbent senators gave their final respects on Tuesday to the late former Senate President Jovito Salonga whom they described as “a humble but strong leader who played a big role in restoring democracy in the country.”
During the necrological services held at the jampacked Session Hall of the Philippine Senate in Pasay City, Senate President Franklin Drilon remembered Salonga for “courageously walking through the valley of shadow and death to help restore democracy in our country.”
”This morning, with hearts gripped by profound sorrow, we are gathered in this august chamber to pay our last respects to a great statesman whose uncommon valor, brilliance and integrity captivated generations of Filipinos,” Drilon said.
”As member of this august chamber, he dazzled his political friends and foes alike by his brilliant oratory, while defending the national sovereignty and interest,” he added.
Drilon also said Salonga had neither bended his principles nor surrendered his dignity even if he was subjected to spirit-breaking conditions, “such as when he was arrested, detained and tortured by the Japanese during the Second World War and during his arrest and detention during Martial Law.”
”Even the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, which left him seriously injured, did not diminish his fervor and determination to fight for what he believed was right for the country and his people,” Drilon said.
”He set the standard for public service by leading a simple life marked by honor, humility and integrity,” the Senate president added.
The Senate presented to the Salonga family the Senate Resolution No. 118 expressing the sympathy of the Senate on his death.
The casket bearing the remains of the former statesman arrived at the Philippine Senate at 9:45 a.m. and was escorted by former and incumbent senators led by Drilon, Salonga’s family and Senate officials and employees to the Session Hall.
Aside from Drilon, other incumbent senators in attendance included Senators Loren Legarda, Sergio Osmena III, Vicente Sotto III, Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV, Cynthia Villar and Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara.
Former Senators Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Wigberto Tanada, Edgardo J. Angara, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Heherson Alvarez, Rene Saguisag, Alfredo Lim, Teofisto ‘Tito’ Guingona Jr., Victor Ziga, Santanina Rasul, Rodolfo Biazon, and Jose Lina also paid respects to their former colleague.
In their respective eulogies, wheelchair-bound Saguisag remembered Salonga, whom he fondly called ‘Uncle Jovy’, for his unyielding fight for the country’s freedom while Alvarez called Salonga as their teacher who “never gave up and served as inspiration and part of our freedom.”
Angara described Salonga as humble and quiet “but with loud leadership” while Legarda called him “a statesman of highest degree.”
”His devotion to our nation’s freedom has allowed each one of us to stand here today to argue and agree, to debate and collaborate, to help run the nation,” Legarda said.
Salonga, popularly known for steering the votes which eventually shut down the U.S. military bases in the country, succumbed to cardiac arrest at the Philippine Heart Center last Thursday afternoon. He was 95.
He was one of the leading opposition leaders during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos from the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 until the People Power Revolution in 1986.
Dubbed as the “Nation’s Fiscalizer,” Salonga was Senate President from 1987 to 1991. He consistently topped three Senatorial elections despite lack of material means — a record without precedent in Philippine political history. He was elected under three different administrations — Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino.
In the 1992 presidential election, Salonga ran but finished only fifth behind former President Fidel V. Ramos, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, former House Speaker Ramon Mitra and former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
After the public viewing, the remains of Salonga were brought to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Auditorium for another necrological services to be attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III. Jelly Musico/PNA / northboundasia.com