The former Estrada Cabinet during a gathering for the launch of the former President's biography. Standing: Benny Laguesma (Labor), Quasi Romualdez (Health), Mario Tiaoqui (Energy) Seated: Domingo Siazon (Foreign Affairs), Jose Pardo (Finance), former President Joseph Estrada, Ben Diokno (Budget), Ronaldo Zamora (Executive Secretary). Photo courtesy of Margaux Salcedo
MANILA - Former President Joseph Estrada on Friday expressed grief over the death of his former health secretary, Alberto Romualdez.
He said he a lost a personal friend while the country will miss a leader who was poverty alleviation and good governance.
"He was a man of competence and unquestionable integrity. He understood my vision to help uplift the lives of the poor," Estrada said in a press statement. "Through his efforts, we were able to distribute population control measures and cheaper medicines to the poor without need of enacting a law."
"I have also lost a dear friend. We are a very close-knit cabinet," he added.
Other former Cabinet officials said they are saddended by Romualdez's death.
Former Finance Secretary Jose "Titoy" Pardo described Romualdez as "like a brother to us."
Former Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, meanwhile said Romualdez was a trustworthy and competent colleague and a reliable and committed friend.
Romualdez, 73, died Friday from natural causes, initial reports said.
He is survived by his wife Peachy and their children.