MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Senators on Wednesday mourned tycoon and political kingmaker Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr., saying his passing would leave a void in business and politics.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III alongside senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Lito Lapid are members of the Nationalist People's Coalition, where Cojuangco served as founding chairman.
"The passing of our NPC chairman, Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco Jr., leaves a big hole in our hearts," Sotto said in a statement.
"He lived an extraordinary life, a successful man who wore many hats as he made waves in the business sector and splashes in public service. The vast ocean of entrepreneurship and political leadership will never drift as suavely and smoothly without his engaging presence," the Senate President said.
Gatchalian said the tycoon's efforts in nation-building would "never be forgotten."
"I‘ve been with NPC since the start of my political career and I witnessed how he shaped, over decades, the ideals and objectives of the party that centered on love for country," he said in a statement.
"He treated us like family and I‘ll remain grateful for his support," he said.
Lapid described the NPC chief as a "reliable friend" throughout his political career.
"Isang malaking utang na loob din ang aking tinatanaw kay Boss Danding dahil miyembro ako ng NPC nang una akong tumakbo bilang Vice Governor ng Pampanga noong taong 1992," the actor-turned-politician said in a statement.
(I am in great debt to Boss Danding because I was a member of the NPC when I first ran as vice governor of Pampanga in 1992.)
Lapid said Conjuangco and the NPC also helped him return to the Senate in the 2019 elections.
Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva and Migz Zubiri also extended their condolences to the Cojuangco family.
"We are saddened by his passing, but we celebrate a legacy, too, of the man behind iconic Filipino brands who in so many ways gave his share to make our country better," Poe said in a statement.
Cojuangco led San Miguel Corp (SMC), Petron Corporation and ECJ & Sons Agricultural Enterprises, among other firms, in providing jobs for Filipinos, Zubiri said.
The NPC founder "pursued his vision for a better Philippines through public service, a challenge that remains in the hearts and minds of its members," Villanueva said in a tweet.
Sen. Sonny Angara and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, in separate statements, underscored that Cojuangco was also instrumental in COVID-19 relief efforts and other charity programs that aided Filipinos during disasters.
"His forays into business and politics are of public record... But what will never be publicly known were his charitable acts, unsolicited, done sans fanfare, and many anonymously," Angara said.
SMC donated gas to frontliners, waived toll fees for aid trucks, stocked community kitchens with meat and poultry, and equipped hospitals with testing machines, disinfectant and other supplies "despite the plunge in sales," Recto said.
"SMC's profit is the labor of thousands of its officers and employees, but SMC's decision to give more than P1 billion in the national pandemic fight, in ways longer than its product catalogue, was the corporate implementation of Danding's philosophy to help the needy," he said.
"When profits give way to service during a national crisis, we know who was responsible for SMC passing its corporate citizenship test."