MANILA - Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Saturday urged Filipinos to remember the late President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III by bringing back dignity and decency in public service, just as how the former chief executive governed during his term.
In an emotional homily at Aquino’s funeral mass at the Church of the Gesu at the Ateneo de Manila University, Villegas said that is the “best eulogy tribute” Filipinos could do for the late leader.
"The best eulogy tribute we can pay to our dear President Noy is to bring back, recover, preserve, safeguard and never again to compromise our dignity as a people and the decency of our leaders as servants, not bosses,” he said, adding that Aquino left a legacy of servant leadership.
“His mortal remains are now ashes but his integrity and decency must resurrect through us and in the leaders we choose,” he added.
The archbishop said the flags now in half-mast across the country do not only symbolize the former Philippine leader’s passing, but also the “dying” of decent governance.
“Nakakainggit. President Noy has joined the pantheon of the great and has entered into eternity... where sickness can no longer threaten where fake news has no more place and trolls are dead, where God's commandments are no longer transgressed, and God's name is no longer blasphemed,” he said, an indirect reference to the current state of affairs.
“Where vulgarity and brutality and terror is vanquished by compassion, where God and his love alone reign supreme, that is where we believe he has crossed over, into the new heavens and the new earth.”
Aquino’s successor President Rodrigo Duterte’s flagship domestic policy war on drugs is a subject of a possible investigation at the International Criminal Court, where thousands of Filipinos have died.
Duterte was also known as the Philippine leader who curses at his opponents on televised briefings, and for saying that women are not fit to lead.
It was also under his administration that fake news on social media flourished, compounded by the presence of trolls that Facebook reported and took down last year.
BACK TO NINOY, CORY’S ARMS
Aquino's eldest sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, said the rest of his family would terribly miss him, and that he is back in the arms of their parents, democracy icons Ninoy and Corazon, known as key figures in the collapse of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
Ballsy said they would be thankful for their only brother forever.
“Ngayon nabutas na ang aming pagsasamahan. Nawala na 'yung gitna. Hindi na uli kami magiging kumpleto,” she said in a tearful message toward the end of the mass, which gathered family, former government officials and friends.
(We are no longer complete and we will never be now he is gone)
“Si Noy ay pinili ng ating mahal na ama na mauna sa aming lahat ng makapiling ulit ang aming mga magulang kasi siya ang nagpatuloy ng kanilang mga hindi natapos. To the man we were so blessed to have as our brother, habang buhay ka naming ipagmamalaki, pasasalamatan, hahanap-hanapin at mamahalin.”
(Noy was chosen by God to join our parents, after he continued what our parents were not able to do. We are proud, thankful, and we love you forever.)
After her remarks, Aquino was honored with long applause and a standing ovation by those in attendance.
Aquino will be inurned at the Manila Memorial Park, beside his parents. His remains were cremated on Thursday, the same day he passed away due to renal disease secondary to diabetes. He was 61 years old.