SMC chair Danding Cojuangco dies at 85

SMC chair Danding Cojuangco dies at 85

MANILA – San Miguel Corp. (SMC) chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. died on Tuesday evening. He was 85. 

SMC corporate information officer Ferdinand Constantino announced Cojuangco’s death on Wednesday in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

Cojuangco succumbed to pneumonia and heart attack, his family confirmed in a separate statement.

In a statement, the conglomerate paid tribute to Cojuangco’s contribution to its development.

“For decades, ECJ (Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.) guided the San Miguel Group, making a difference in the lives of so many of our employees, past and present. Values he lived by–malasakit (compassion), and sama-sama (togetherness), the idea that we either make it together or not at all—are at the heart of what it means to be San Miguel,” SMC said in a statement.

It added that as chairman, Cojuangco guided the conglomerate’s “expansion, diversification, and transformation”.

“His vision for San Miguel—to be a beacon of hope for the Philippines and a partner in nation-building—remains at the core of everything we do,” SMC said.

Malacañang, meanwhile, expressed its sympathies and condolences to the Cojuangco family.

“The Palace offers its fervent prayers for the eternal repose of the soul of Mr. Cojuangco as we convey our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues, friends, and loved ones,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement. 

Cojuangco has been the chairman of the board and CEO of the conglomerate since July 7, 1998.

Named as the 16th richest man in the Philippines by Forbes magazine in 2019, he has a strong presence in the Philippine business scene.

Apart from being SMC chairman, Cojuangco also chaired the Ginebra San Miguel, Inc., San Miguel Food and Beverage, Inc., Petron Corp., ECH & Sons Agricultural Enterprises, Inc., and Northern Cement Corp.

He also served as a former governor and congressman of Tarlac and ambassador to the United States.

Roque remembered Cojuangco’s “immense contribution” to the socio-economic development of the Philippines through SMC’s operations in food, beverages, energy, power, oil refining, and infrastructure.

“SMC has provided livelihood opportunities to tens of thousands of our countrymen as direct workforce, and creation of additional jobs as suppliers, distributors, retailers, and the like,” he said.

In separate statements, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also mourned the death of Cojuangco. 

Andanar recognized that Cojuangco, as head of SMC, enabled the company to generate thousands of livelihood and employment opportunities that benefitted thousands of Filipino families.

Roque and Andanar also lauded Cojuangco for being a “reliable partner” of the government in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country by extending assistance to front-liners and vulnerable sectors. 

“Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Cojuangco and SMC have extended assistance not only to the front-line personnel and vulnerable sectors but also to the government in mitigating the impact of the pandemic,” Andanar said.

He said Cojuangco’s passing was “not only a loss of a patriarch to his loved ones and SMC but also a loss of a philanthropist to the people and a reliable partner of the government in poverty alleviation and economic development.”

Nograles said Cojuangco’s wisdom and business acumen will be “sorely missed.”

He also bade farewell to Cojuangco “with the knowledge that (the latter) will find peace and blessedness of spirit.”

“We mourn and grieve the passing of a true titan, one of the last of his kind, in Philippine business and politics,” Nograles said. “His (Cojuangco) verve for life will continue to inspire those he leaves behind.”

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Cojuangco will surely be remembered by Filipinos, particularly those he has helped and whose lives he has touched.

“May the Almighty grant Danding Cojuangco eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon his soul,” he said.

Panelo remembered the tycoon for his company’s contributions to the country’s economy.

“Owing to Mr. Cojuangco’s vision, SMC has evolved into one of the most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines with operations in food and beverage, packaging, properties, fuel or oil refining and marketing, power and energy, and infrastructure, among others, and with revenues that greatly contributed to the strength of our economy,” he said.

He also remembered him for being a “billionaire-philanthropist” who put up foundations which shared resources to the underprivileged, especially in the area of education.

“Boss Danding, as he is fondly called by his employees, was a significant benefactor of the De La Salle University Green Archers Basketball Team and owned three teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), to wit: San Miguel Beermen, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, and Star Hotshots,” he added.

Panelo also remembered Cojuangco for being “well-known in the Philippine political arena”, being the founder of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), which serves as a stable for prominent figures in government. Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos with reports from Leslie Venzon & Azer Parrocha/PNA –