The President’s Men: Aquino’s Cabinet pay last respects, remember boss
MANILA, Philippines — The sights at Ateneo de Manila on Friday night were reminiscent of cabinet meetings during ex-president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s administration — only that, the former chief executive was no longer there to preside over the meeting.
Aquino’s colleagues from the cabinet and his close allies gathered at the Church of Gesù inside his alma mater Ateneo de Manila University where his remains were up for public viewing, and recalled the days when the late leader was at the helm of the government.
Almost all of the cabinet members were present — notably, his former running-mate and Interior secretary Mar Roxas, former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, former Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, as well as Senators Francis Pangilinan, Joel Villanueva, and Francis Tolentino, who also held executive positions during Aquino’s term.
Ochoa was first to give a speech, in which he surmised what Aquino would have told them had there been a chance to say his last wishes or poke fun at the other former officials’ habits.
“Sonny (Coloma) at Ricky (Carandang), no’ng nasa Palasyo kayo, halos di kayo nag-uusap, kaya nachi-chismis tuloy ang Balay at Samar ek-ek. Sana, maisantabi na ninyo ‘yan. Manolo (Quezon), isa ka ring yosi buddy ni boss, sana mag-quit ka na rin,” Ochoa said in jest.
“Simple lang ang bilin ni boss kay Butch (Abad). Ngayon na budget na lang ng tahanan mo ang inaasikaso mo, baka pwedeng tapusin mo ito nang mas maaga, para di ma-hassle ang mga kasama mo sa bahay,” he added.
Former Education secretary Armin Luistro, in his speech, recalled his bewilderment when he, a La Sallian, was first asked to join the cabinet of an Atenean president.
Social Welfare secretary Dinky Soliman remembered the former president for being strict and his keen attention to detail.
Aquino died on Thursday morning, with his sisters announcing that it was due to renal disease secondary to diabetes. Aquino’s sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada read a statement on Thursday afternoon, confirming that the former president died peacefully in his sleep, before he was rushed to the Capitol Medical Center.
Earlier, the Aquino family announced that a funeral mass would be held at 10:00 a.m. at Church of Gesù also, which would immediately be followed by a procession towards the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque.
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