Libre: Rest in peace, Noynoy

BENIGNO “Noynoy” Aquino III is dead. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 24, 2021. Aquino was laid to rest beside his parents, icons of democracy Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Corazon “Cory” Aquino, at the Manila Memorial Park on June 26.

From June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2016, he served as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines. For six years, he was the Father of the Nation, a task more difficult and more demanding than a father of a family. More so that he lived in the shadow of his illustrious parents and was expected to right the wrongs of his last two predecessors and more.

Noynoy had no ambition to become President. But like his mother, Cory, he was at the crossroads of history. The nation was grieving on the passage of Cory; the Philippines needed a clean sweep from the failed leadership of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Noynoy did not have the eloquence of Ninoy Aquino. He did not have the saintly charisma of Cory Aquino. He did not have the showbiz charm of Kris Aquino. But what he had were the rare qualities of character and integrity. He spoke matter-of-factly and without bravura. He appeared stand-offish on stage. He was not photogenic and lacked the drama of Kris. He was different from his distinguished parents and celebrity sister. In a way, he was his own man; he was genuine.

One thing Noynoy cannot be faulted is that he delivered. He surrounded himself with competent and honest officials like Jesse Robredo, Albert del Rosario, Leila de Lima and Kim Henares. He brought the Philippine economy at the end of his term as the fastest growing in Asia. He fought for the sovereignty of the Philippines in the South China Sea and won. He convinced the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to renounce violence. He was unafraid of putting the powerful and corrupt behind jail including his predecessor Gloria Arroyo. He raised the country’s ranking on Berlin-based Transparency International’s Corruption Index by 11 notches in his last full year in office in 2015 from the start of his term. Noynoy had faults too. But these cannot overshadow what good he did to the country.

In 2016, the Social Weather Stations came out with satisfaction ratings of all Presidents of the Philippines. It revealed that “Noynoy had the highest average satisfaction rating of all the Presidents. His final rating of a Moderate +29 broke the previous best-finish record of +19, set by (Fidel) Ramos in 1998.”

Rest now, President Benigno Aquino III. You did your best for the Filipino people. You have left an indelible mark in Philippine history. You will not be forgotten.