MANILA (UPDATED) - Former Senate president Jovito Salonga has passed away. He was 95.
The esteemed statesman died at around 2 p.m. Thursday at the Philippine Heart Center, according to the law office of his son, Steve Salonga.
Salonga had been battling Alzheimer's disease. Back in 2013, Steve said his father had lost his ability to eat, think, communicate and move.
In a statement, Malacañang expressed sadness and extended its deepest condolences to the family of Salonga, who was a leading opposition leader during the Marcos regime.
"With heads bowed in grief and respect, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator Jovito Salonga. His passing marks the departure from this life of another of those brave, committed individuals who lit a candle during the deep darkness of the dictatorship; and who contributed to the restoration of our democratic way of life after the triumph of People Power," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Salonga, who topped the 1944 Bar examinations with a score of 95.3%, tied with Jose Diokno, first served as representative of Rizal province before he was elected senator in 1965.
He served in the Senate for 12 years, from 1965 to 1972 and from 1987 to 1992. He topped all three senatorial elections he had been in: 1965, 1971, and 1987.
Salonga was severely injured in the bombing of the proclamation rally of the Liberal Party (LP) at Plaza Miranda, Manila in 1971.
In 1980, he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the bombing of the American Society of Travel Agents convention at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
He was later allowed to go on self-exile. He went to Hong Kong, Germany and the United States. He returned to the Philippines in 1985.
After the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, where he became a prominent figure, Salonga was appointed by then President Corazon Aquino as the chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
The PCGG was formed to recover the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies.
Salonga then served as Senate President from 1987 to 1991. He was among the 12 senators who voted "no" to the Philippines-US Military Bases Treaty.
In 1992, the esteemed statesman ran for president, but lost to Fidel Ramos. He retired from politics and government service that same year.
"Imbued with deep faith, he was a passionate advocate of the rule of law, of nationalism, and of our democratic institutions," Lacierda said.
He also emphasized that Salonga "stood squarely on the side of good government, and did his part in Kilosbayan and the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation to ensure that the sins of the past would not be repeated in the future, becoming a Magsaysay laureate in 2007."
"His life stands as a reproach to all those who would put personal gain ahead of public service; who would lower the standards of public discourse; and who would sacrifice human rights and the rule of law either for personal or partisan advantage. He joins the ranks of those who have made the position of senator of the Republic an honorable, and respectable, thing. His passing challenges all who would seek election to live up to a life well lived as a patriot and citizen," Lacierda added.
Salonga's remains will be at the Loyola Memorial Chapel in Guadalupe, Makati.