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Bids to make Aquino a hero gain support

By Maila Ager, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 13:46:00 08/06/2009

Filed Under: Laws, Cory Aquino

MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE 2) Proposals in the House of Representatives to make former President Corazon Aquino a national hero are gaining support, even as several lawmakers affirmed that the late leader was a hero in the hearts and minds of the Filipino people.

?I think it will gain bipartisan support in the House. It?s not a political question, but a matter of putting up someone as a model of the Filipino people,? Speaker Prospero Nograles said in a text message.

On Monday, two separate resolutions were filed by Representatives Liwayway Vinzons-Chato of Camarines Norte and Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan Del Sur to make Aquino ?a hero of the Republic of the Philippines,? to ensure ?the continuity of her legacy of democracy and love of country.?

Aquino was buried Wednesday night beside her husband, martyred Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., at the Manila Memorial Park amid hundreds of thousands of people grateful to the former president for restoring democracy in the country.

Representative Lorenzo Tanada III of Quezon province said he supported the resolutions, but added that these would have to pass stringent test by historians, as he and his colleagues in the Liberal Party also submitted resolution seeking to declare January 25, the birth date of Aquino, as ?Cory Aquino Day.?

Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo said certain standards and processes would have to be followed in declaring one a national hero. He said that even without the title, Aquino would remain ?a source of inspiration? to the Filipinos.

Ocampo said Congress should go slow in making such moves.

?Iniiwasan natin na dahil sa bugso ng public sentiment kaya aakto ang gobyerno [We are avoiding hasty actions because of burst of public sentiment]. Even in the processing of the declaration, I?m certain she would have wanted it to be done carefully, iyong walang magrereklamo na na-short cut ang process [with no one complaining that we?ve made shortcuts in the process],? he said.

Paranaque Rep. Roilo Golez said politicians should keep out of the issue of whether or not Aquino should be declared a national here.

?We should not politicize the matter. The last thing that should happen is for lawmakers (to be) debating because of political alignments,? he said.

Golez added that the late President Ramon Magsaysay, famous for being the man of the masses, was never declared a national hero, but added that ?his standing in political history is much higher than many declared heroes.?

For Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor, being a true hero did not need the action of Congress.

?Being a national hero does not require congressional imprimatur, it?s in the hearts and minds of the Filipinos,? he said.

?Congress can go wrong and the work of Congress can be criticized in later years, but being a hero is in the hearts and minds of the people. And she is in a sense a hero, she has done an act of heroism?it?s something that transforms the Filipino nation,? Defensor added.

Two senators on Thursday supported the proposals to make Mrs. Aquino a national hero.

"I am not aware of it but I support the proposal to declare Cory a national hero, " Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said in a text message.

Senator Pia Cayetano said the proposal was "well-grounded" and "well-deserved."

"Our concept of heroes is people from the past, and many people especially the young ones cannot relate to the lives of many of our heroes. The usual heroes are like based on legends," she said at a regular forum in the Senate.

"So I think it would be wonderful to have a present, modern-day hero, and I am extremely pleased that the person we are considering for recognition as a heroine is a woman," she said.

It is now high time, Cayetano said, that Filipinos should recognize Aquino by declaring her a national hero.

"And I can't think of any person befitting of that honor and title," she said, "I do support these moves to recognize her as a national hero."

Cayetano said it would be a first in history if a resolution, declaring Aquino a national hero, would be approved by Congress.

No legislation, she said, had been approved by Congress proclaiming any Filipino historical figure, including Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, as national heroes.

"If President Cory is actually proclaimed a national hero, then she would be the first. She will not be just honored as national hero but also officially as a national hero," Cayetano added.

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