Jurists lament passing of ‘decent’ leader
MANILA, Philippines — Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno lamented the death of former President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday and described the man who named her as the youngest Philippine Chief Justice as a good man and a responsible leader.
Sereno said that while some presidents would be remembered for how they tried to subject independent institutions to conform to their will, Aquino would be remembered for how he invested in the long-term strengthening of institutions of justice and accountability.
“To the President who asked me to do the right thing and nothing more, I thank you. Generations will thank you for the high regard you held for professionals in government, for asking them to do only the right thing,” read part of Sereno’s statement.
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, whom Aquino personally chose to administer his oath of presidential office in 2010, also grieved the death of the leader.
Carpio-Morales, who was later called out of retirement and was appointed as Ombudsman, said “it was a great honor to have served as Ombudsman when he was our President and honesty, integrity and the rule of law guided our government.”
“He was brave. He went after powerful people who did wrong. But he was fair and allowed justice to prevail even to his discredit. He was an example of decency and earned us international respect,” Carpio-Morales said.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, another Aquino appointee to the high court, also expressed “profound sadness” over Aquino’s death.
“I knew him to be a kind man, driven by his passion to serve our people, diligent in his duties, and with an avid and consuming curiosity about new knowledge and the world in general. I have learned a lot from him. I saw him carry his title with dignity and integrity,” said Leonen whom Aquino named in 2010 as the government’s chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012. INQ
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