“When that day comes and my second life (after surviving an ambush in 1987) comes to an end, will I be able to say things will be ok?
I will tell you this, straight in the eye: After everything we’ve achieved, I can say I am content.
I am content because I am sure that when I am gone, many will take my place and continue what we have started.
Maybe that is what I’m meant to do: start this”.
These words are taken from the 2014 State of the Nation Address of former President Benigno Aquino III, who passed away in his sleep on Thursday morning.
The quiet and unassuming Noynoy Aquino rose to the presidency in 2010 after the 2009 death of his mother, former president Corazon C. Aquino sparked widespread calls for him to lead the country.
During his inaugural address as 15th president of the country, he laid the simple but ambitious foundations of his administration: Without corruption, there is no poverty. The people are his boss. No more wang-wang or VIP sirens and blinkers. No more influence peddling, patronage politics, and stealing.
What made this president different was that he backed up his words with action. When the presidential convoy started stopping for traffic lights, the rest of the nation’s entitled public officials had to follow suit and for the next six years, the wang-wang became a thing of the past.
During his watch, Aquino made tough decisions in behalf of the Filipinos who he acknowledged as his “bosses”. He successfully challenged China over the disputed West Philippine Sea in the international arbitral tribunal at The Hague. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and three sitting senators were arrested and detained on charges of corruption and plunder. He oversaw the economic boom of the country.
While his rule also had lapses and mistakes, it has become clear in hindsight that Noynoy Aquino set the bar for good governance and integrity in public service. With his death, the nation remembers the value of such principled Filipinos, especially if they are put in positions of power and leadership. We also realize the work that remains to be done if we are to continue the good that he started in 2010.
As we mourn the untimely passing of former president Benigno Aquino III, let us renew our commitment to our nation and the lofty goals our leaders, past and present, have set before us.
Noynoy Aquino did what he could to make his parents and his countrymen proud, and based on the testimonies and stories that have been coming out in the past few days, he was able to achieve what he set out to do. He can now rest in peace but for Filipinos, there remains a lot of work to do.*