MANILA - Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Danilo Lim has passed away after testing positive for COVID-19, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Lim "died before 8 AM this morning at the age of 65," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"MMDA Chair Lim served the Duterte Administration with professionalism, competence and integrity. He would be dearly missed," Roque said in a statement.
"May the perpetual light shine upon him, and may his soul, through the mercy of the Almighty, rest in eternal peace," he added.
Last Dec. 29, Lim said he tested positive for the novel coronavirus after a routine screening as a frontliner. He said he was experiencing mild symptoms and would go on isolation.
President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 appointed Lim as chairman of the MMDA. He is among former high-ranking military officials that Duterte tapped to join his administration.
"Chairman Lim was fearless in fighting for what he believes in, especially with respect to political abuses and related issues," said Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
As spokesperson of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, he participated in the coup attempt against the administration of former President Corazon Aquino in 1989. He also took action against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, calling for the latter's ouster in 2007.
Lim served as customs deputy commissioner for intelligence under the administration of Duterte's predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III, but resigned in 2013 due to "powerful forces" which he said affected his mandate to capture smugglers and institute reforms in the bureau.
In 2010, Lim ran for a Senate seat as an independent candidate and eventually as part of the Liberal Party but lost.
"Behind the exterior of gentleness and humility was an iron-clad ferocity of a man trained in the art of warfare and strategy and deep seated conviction of protecting the people’s welfare," Panelo said of Lim.
"The retired Brigadier General was widely known as a man of principle and a true gentleman. It was his unblemished character and reputation for hard work that served as the foundation for President Duterte's decision to appoint BGen Lim as the Chairman of the MMDA," he added.
Malacañang has yet to say who would take over Lim's post.
Senators also extended their condolences to Lim's family.
"General Danny Lim was a very worthy noble brother. He will create a vacuum in the corridors of noble men," Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters in a text message.
"I am just consoled that he will now rest with the Great Architect Of the Universe! Rest in peace worthy brother!" he said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri descibed Lim as a "hard working, no frills public servant" and a "distinguished soldier at the Special Operations Command of the Philippine Army."
"He served his country well both in protecting our people from external and internal threats as well as a low-key hardworking bureaucrat in government serving the needs of the people of Metro Manila," Zubiri said in a statement.
Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Francis Tolentino also condoled with Lim's family, saying the passing of the former general "is a great loss to public service."
"I join the Philippine Army and MMDA families in mourning the loss of a good friend, General Danny Lim, a competent administrator who led with core principles. May he rest in peace," Tolentino, a former MMDA chair, said.
"He led the MMDA, one of the agencies working in the frontlines amid the pandemic, with wisdom and foresight, despite all the traffic and transport challenges," Gatchalian said in a separate statement.
"His contributions in implementing COVID-19 related policies and rules cannot be disregarded," he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Lim's "energy and life-long dedication is an inspiration to all officers and civil servants."
"He was a brave soldier, who was admired for his great love of country, and I was fortunate enough to have fought beside Gen. Danny in many battles in Philippine politics," Hontiveros said in a tweet.
"May his family be comforted by everyone’s heartfelt support," she said.