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‘Declare Cory Aquino a national hero’

By Christine Avendańo, Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:09:00 08/05/2009

Filed Under: Cory Aquino, Heroism, Congress, Legislation, Awards and Prizes

MANILA, Philippines?The late former President Corazon Aquino should be recognized as a national hero to ensure ?the continuity of her legacy of democracy and love of country,? according to two lawmakers.

Senators also filed 12 resolutions honoring Aquino and expressing ?deepest condolences? to her family. A resolution, approved by both legislative chambers on Monday, bestowed the ?highest congressional honor? on the late President.

In filing House Joint Resolution No. 42, Camarines Norte Rep. Liwayway Vinzons Chato called on Congress to declare Aquino a national hero and urged the National Historical Institute (NHI) to designate, build and declare historic structures, edifices and monuments commemorating her heroism.

Another measure, House Joint Resolution No. 41, which was filed by Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza, seeks to make Aquino a ?hero of the Republic of the Philippines.?

This, he said, would ensure ?the continuity of her legacy of democracy and love of country and as a way of instilling patriotism and nationalism in the minds of Filipinos of future generations.?

Both resolutions were referred to the rules committee and are expected to be discussed in the House plenary next week.

The Senate will invite the Aquino family to accept Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, which recognized Aquino for her ?democratic legacy, sterling public service and unparalleled contribution in Philippine history.?

The resolution will be presented to her son, Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III, and four daughters, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a phone interview.

Aquino, who died on Saturday from colon cancer, became the country?s symbol of hope in the fight against the Marcos dictatorship following the assassination of her husband, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., who has also been hailed a national hero and martyr.

The House of Representatives suspended sessions for the week in deference to the nationwide mourning of Aquino?s death. Her funeral on Wednesday was declared a public holiday, and thousands of people are expected to line the streets to bid her farewell.

According to Chato, declaring Aquino a national hero is vital in instilling nationalism and pride of country.

?A people needs to be aware of their history in order to understand their present,? she said in pushing for her resolution.

A reluctant hero

?In this day and age when Philippine history is seemingly wanting of national heroes, Corazon C. Aquino reluctantly rose to be one,? Chato said.

?She surrendered herself to the great responsibility that destiny put on her shoulders?to be the human symbol of democracy,? she added.

Chato also hailed the late President for battling corruption, injustice and political tyranny even in her last days, and praised her for bringing honor to the country.

Aquino also displayed fortitude amid criticisms that her administration showed weakness and delay, and relinquished power voluntarily, she added.

?With an unwavering faith in God, she left a legacy that transcended the many failings of her administration. The consolidation of democracy through the peaceful hand-over of power in a country where no president had stepped down voluntarily since 1964 was perhaps her greatest,? Chato said.

In his resolution, Plaza noted the many accolades and words of love for the former President and her accomplishments, even in death.

He hailed Aquino for fiercely adhering to the principles of democracy, her honesty and sincerity in pushing good governance, and for peacefully relinquishing power. Her service to the nation did not end even after she stepped down, he added.

?After her term ended, President Aquino remained an indefatigable force and a unifying force by leading the people in campaigns to fight government abuses and whenever democracy and the country?s democratic gains and institutions are threatened,? Plaza said.

National treasure

According to the joint resolution of both houses, the Philippines lost ?one of its national treasures? when Ms Aquino died. It acknowledged her role in leading millions to a peaceful people power uprising in 1986, her six years of leading the nation, and her ?solemn, peaceful and democratic transfer of power in 1992.?

?This is the first time since 1987 that we bestowed such honor,? Senator Zubiri said.

The Senate education committee under Sen. Mar Roxas will start tackling next week a joint resolution introduced by Roxas declaring Jan. 25, the birth date of Aquino, as ?Cory Aquino Day.?

Quezon City officials on Monday also adopted a resolution declaring ?Cory Aquino Democracy Day? in the city on Jan. 25, her birthday, and seeking to name one of the city government?s awards in her honor.

The resolution, signed by all 26 members of the city council, allowed for special activities in schools and city government offices to commemorate Aquino?s birthday.

Aquino was a longtime resident of Times Street in Barangay West Triangle, Quezon City. In 2002, she received the Gawad Parangal Award for Most Outstanding Citizen in Government Service.

Cory Aquino Award

The Gawad Parangal Awards for Most Outstanding Citizens shall confer the Cory Aquino Award on an ?ordinary citizen who through a life of virtue and outstanding good citizenship, had changed his or her community, society and the country,? it said.

A monument in memory of the country?s first woman president will rise on the City Hall grounds, the resolution added.

The Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB), a national organization of barangay (village) leaders, also paid tribute to Aquino and recognized her role in enhancing governance in the communities through the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991.

In a statement, LnB president Ricojudge Echiverri said barangays and their leaders ?will forever owe a sense of gratitude and respect to the former President for passing landmark legislation which created and promote local autonomy.?

The group thanked the late President for the passage of the Family Code of 1987, the Administrative Code of 1987 and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act. With reports from Julie M. Aurelio and Beverly T. Natividad

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