Former President Aquino obit update: “She was a national treasure” — PGMA

July 31, 2009 11:46 pm 

MANILA, Aug. 1 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Saturday expressed her condolences to the family of former President Corazon C. Aquino.

Speaking from Washington, DC, over national television ABS-CBN Channel 2, President Arroyo said "the nation lost a national treasure. An icon of democracy."

President Arroyo also said she is set to declare a week of national mourning.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President could cut short her trip but that they are going to discuss the matter when they get to New York, their next stop after Washington, D.C., where she met United States President Barack Obama at the White House.

President Arroyo is expected to be back in Manila on August 5.

Remonde also said that under the law, all presidents are entitled to a state funeral but added that this would be subject to the family's approval.

Popular TV host Boy Abunda, a close friend of the Aquino family, earlier told reporters over national television that the Aquinos were praying the Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary when Cory gave her "last deep breath."

Abunda said all five children of Mrs. Aquino, her close friends and relatives were at her bedside when the former leader passed away.

After that last breath, Abunda said, Mrs. Aquino's children quietly cried.

"Sad. They were quiet and cried quietly except for Kris Aquino-Yap who was very quiet," he said, referring to the youngest daughter of Mrs. Aquino.

"Kris was very quiet. She was displaying such courage but she had an emotional outburst when the remains of Aunt Cory was taken to the Heritage Park in Taguig City. Because you have to remember that Kris was in the hospital, Kris was by the side of her mother since July 20 until the final moments. Until now Kris is beside her mother," Abunda said.

He said a Mass, officiated by Fr. Catalino Arevalo, was held after Mrs. Aquino's death.

Abunda said Fr. Arevalo is a very close friend of the former leader and had been officiating a Mass for her at the hospital.

A family driver of the Aquinos was seen loading stuff into a white Toyota Hi-Ace van parked at the back entrance of the hospital.

Abunda said the boxes and luggage belonged to Kris who left the hospital early Saturday morning. (PNA)

V3/JCA

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