By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday urged to set aside differences as the country mourned the death of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
“I join the entire nation in mourning the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III,” Duterte said in a press statement.
Citing the need to set differences aside, he offered prayers for the repose of the former president’s soul.
“Let us all take this opportunity to unite in prayer and set aside our differences as we pay respects to a leader who has given his best to serve the Filipino people,” he said.
He also acknowledged the accomplishments he and his family left behind.
“His memory and his family’s legacy of offering their lives for the cause of democracy will forever remain etched in our hearts,” he added.
Duterte also extended condolences to Aquino’s family members, friends, and colleagues.
“I express my deepest sympathies to his siblings, Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris, as well as to all his loved ones, friends and supporters, in this period of sadness. May you take comfort in the knowledge that he is now in a better place with his Creator,” he added.
In a speech in Malacañan Palace, Duterte announced that he was saddened by the passing of his predecessor.
“It is with profound sadness that I learned of the passing of the former president Benigno S Aquino III this morning,” he said.
He thanked him for his service to the country and expressed hope that Filipinos would be “inspired” by his legacy.
Duterte assured Noynoy’s family that the national government will provide assistance apart from “love and prayers.”
In a Palace press briefing earlier in the day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque paid tribute to the former president by observing a moment of silence for his passing.
”We commiserate and condole with the family and loved ones of former President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III as we extend our condolences on his untimely demise,” Roque said.
Roque also hailed Aquino for his excellent public service.
“We’re grateful to the former president for his contributions and services to the country. Rest in peace, Mr. President,” he added.
Aquino’s sisters officially confirmed the passing of their brother on Thursday afternoon.
In a statement read by Pinky Aquino-Abellada, the family revealed that Noynoy’s cause of death was renal disease secondary to diabetes.
She said her 61-year-old brother died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, 6:30 am.
“Mission accomplished, Noy, be happy now with Dad and Mom,” Abellada said.
Noynoy, the son of democracy icons former President Cory Aquino and former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., is the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016.
Prior to assuming the presidency, Aquino served as a senator from 2007 to 2010 and as a representative of Tarlac 2nd District from 1998 to 2007. (PNA)