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Church leaders offer prayers, condolences for departed former Philippine president

Cardinal Jose Advincula, new archbishop of Manila, led Church leaders in offering prayers for the country’s former president, Benigno Aquino III, who died on June 24.

“We have been informed of the sad news of the passing away of our former president,” said the cardinal before the end of his installation as the 33rd archbishop of the national capital on the same day.

“Let us entrust him to the mercy of our loving father and let us now pray for the eternal repose of his soul,” said the cardinal.

“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace,” prayed Cardinal Advincula.

Aquino, who served as the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016, died in a hospital in Manila. He was 61 years old.

“As president, [Aquino] proved himself to be a worthy son of such great parents to whom the nation is indebted for the restoration of democracy in our country,” said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan.

Aquino was the son of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon Aquino.

Known popularly as “Noynoy,” he rode a wave of public support to the presidency after the 2009 death of his mother.

Security personnel lower the national flags inside the presidential palace grounds in Manila to mourn the death of former president Benigno Aquino III on June 24, 2021. (Photo by Toto Lozano/Presidential Photo)

Aquino’s father and namesake, Benigno Jr., was a staunch opposition leader during the rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos. He was assassinated when he returned home from political exile in 1983.

The killing shocked the nation and helped propel Marcos out of office in the 1986 “People Power” revolution and ushered in the presidency of Aquino’s mother, Corazon.

“Sincere prayers and condolences to the family of the former president. May God’s love and mercy be his as he has shared his life to the people,” said Bishop Rex Alarcon of Daet.

Retired Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the Filipino people “deeply mourn the untimely death” of the former president.

“He was a humble hardworking president who greatly improved the economy of our country,” said the bishop, adding that the Filipino people “will never forget the patriotism of this extraordinary family.”

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan said Aquino would be remembered for his “economic reforms and his government stance of life’s sacredness.”

“We extend our condolences to his family and offer prayers for the repose of his soul,” said the bishop, who heads the social action commission of the bishops’ conference.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said he remembers former president Aquino’s “goodness.”

“We are grateful for the goods he has shown and did to our country,” said the bishop.

Former Philippine president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III salutes while singing the national anthem during a handover ceremony for the new armed forces chief at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, on July 2, 2010. (Photo by Reuters)

Former president Aquino, son of two of the country’s democracy icons, died in a Manila hospital of renal failure as a result of diabetes, his family said.

“It is with profound grief that on behalf of our family, I am confirming that our brother, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, died peacefully in his sleep,” the family said in a statement.

“His death certificate pronounced his death at 6:30 a.m. due to renal disease secondary to diabetes.”

The presidential palace offer condolences to his family and asked Filipinos to pray.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who ran under the then Aquino-led ruling party when elected in 2016, said it was “heart-breaking” to hear of his death.

“He tried to do what was right, even when it was not popular,” she said in a statement. “He worked quietly and tirelessly for the good of everyone. He will be missed.”

Flags were flying at half mast on Thursday to honore the former leader.

In a statement, Senator Imee Marcos, daughter of the late dictator, paid tribute to Aquino for his “kind and simple soul” and said he would be deeply missed.

Aquino still carried a bullet wound from a 1987 attempted military coup against his mother’s administration, during which he was shot five times and three of his bodyguards were killed. – with a report from Reuters and Mark Saludes

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