(Roundup) Million of Filipinos mourn Cory’s demise

August 1, 2009 10:55 am 

MANILA, August 1 – Amid heavy downpours enveloping the country today, millions of Filipinos weep the passing away of national treasure former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, who succumbed to cardiac arrest at 3:18 a.m. today at the Makati Medical Center in Makati City after a long battle with colon cancer.

Catholic churches rang their bells as heavy downpours hit Metro Manila.

Yellow ribbons seemed to be the color of the day as vehicles and electric posts were festooned by it.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led people from all walks of life in expressing their deepest sympathies to the family of the former Chief Executive who was brought by her family to La Salle Greenhills (LSGH) at 3 p.m. Saturday from the Heritage Park in Taguig City via motorcade.

A funeral mass was held at LSGH, where acting Executive Secretary Gabriel Claudio represented President Arroyo, who was still in the United States.

All vehicles gave way to the former President’s funeral entourage on Saturday afternoon. Motorists seemed to pay tribute to the fallen “National Treasure’s” convoy, a report from ABS-CBN’s DZMM said.

“Today, the Philippines lost a national treasure. Former President Cory Aquino helped lead the revolution to restore democracy and the rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril,” President Arroyo said in a statement from Washington, DC.

“Our nation will mourn her passing. History was thrust upon her when her noble husband was cut down in the prime of his life as he fought for democracy and rule of law,” President Arroyo said.

”She picked up the standard from the foreign warrior Ninoy and helped lead our nation to a brighter day,” she said.

President Arroyo declared a 10-day national mourning period for former Chief Executive.

She ordered all flags in government buildings and installations be flown at half-mast for 10 days starting today, August 1 in a period of national mourning for the late former President Aquino.

The order is contained in Proclamation No. 1850 which was sent via fax from New York where President Arroyo is on the second leg of an eight-day visit to the United States.

The proclamation was also signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

“I’m announcing today that we will officially observe a ten-day period of national mourning. Our hearts go out to the family in this hour of grief and sorrow. The nation prays for Cory and her family,” Mrs Arroyo said.

Public viewing of former President Aquino's wake started at 5 p.m. today at La Salle Greenhills gym in San Juan City.

President Aquino’s remains would be transferred to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila on Monday.

Necrological services, overnight vigil and requiem mass will also be held at the Manila Cathedral.

Catholic mass will be celebrated daily at 12 noon and 8 p.m. at La Salle Greenhills gym and Manila Cathedral. Press briefings will also be held there at 2 p.m. daily.

President Arroyo said Mrs. Aquino would always be remembered and live forever in the heart of every Filipino “as a beloved mother of the nation who led her people back to the road of freedom and democracy.”

In Administrative Order No. 269, also signed and sent to Manila via fax, the President created a four-member Committee on the Funeral of the late president.

The committee is composed of Executive Secretary Ermita as chairman; Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, as members.

In creating the committee, the President said “it is fitting and proper that appropriate official acts and observances be carried out in connection with the funeral arrangements for the former president, commensurate with the people’s love and respect for her.”

She said that representatives duly designated by the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court and the family of the late President are invited as committee members.

The committee is empowered to create such subcommittees as may be necessary to assist in the performance of its functions.

President Arroyo, in the United States on an official trip, praised Aquino for restoring "democracy and rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril."

Former President Aquino became president of a transitional government in 1986 after a bloodless "People Power" revolt that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos's 20-year regime. She framed a new constitution, overhauled the electoral process and opened peace talks with insurgent groups.

Former Press Secretary Teodoro Locsin, who is also a close family friend, openly wept on ABS-CBN’s All News Channel (ANC).

"The purity, the nobility, never failed. She never asked for anything," in return, Locsin said.

He said more than anything else, Aquino removed the "center of corruption in government, because she would not be corrupt."

People attended vigils and lit candles as churches held requiem masses in Manila.

Some of prominent people who expressed their sympathies include former President Joseph Estrada, Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"Today our country has lost a mother. This is a sad day for the Filipino people," Estrada said through his spokesperson Margaux Salcedo in a text message.

"President Aquino has not only been an icon of democracy but has stood as the guiding voice of our people since EDSA 1. She was a woman of both strength and graciousness," Estrada said.

When Mrs. Aquino rose to power in 1986 through the People Power Revolution that also resulted in the ouster of the strongman Ferdinand Marcos, her first move was to declare a "revolutionary government" and replaced all officials in government, down to the lowest levels.

One of the officials who suddenly found themselves out of power was Estrada, who was then mayor of the town of San Juan in Metro Manila.

Gordon said the PNRC grieved for the nation as we lost a great leader today – President Aquino.

“She is a great loss to our country and to humanity. Former President Cory Aquino will always be honored for restoring freedom in the country,” Gordon said in a statement.

Mrs Aquino will be interred at the Manila Memorial Park, in Sucat, Paranaque City on Wednesday after the 9 a.m. mass at the Manila Cathedral.(PNA) RMA/JCA


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