MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III and members of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) on Tuesday held a necrological service in honor of former Senate President and LP member Jovito Reyes Salonga at the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) auditorium in Pasay City.
President Aquino arrived at 3 p.m. and stayed for almost an hour to listen to the eulogy given by LP member and Budget Secretary Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad, LP standard-bearer former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and LP vice chairman and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Salonga, who topped the 1944 BAR examination, was chosen as the chief lawyer of President Aquino’s father, former senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. in 1967 in the underage lawsuit filed against Ninoy by former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Salonga was also appointed by President Aquino’s mother former Corazon Aquino as head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) that was tasked to go after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
Salonga won the case for Ninoy Aquino before the Commission on Elections and was even upheld by the Supreme Court (SC) and the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
In his eulogy, Roxas said Salonga stood tall in every part of history throughout his life to fight for the truth that he did as opposition of the martial law rule of former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos.
“With his track record, he was able to pass the light of the torch to next generation and we have now the duty to continue this fight. That’s what we can do for him,” Roxas said.
Drilon, for his part, remembered Salonga for giving his tie-breaker vote when 12 senators rejected the RP-US Bases Treaty, a move that cost him the Senate presidency in 1991 and the presidential bid in the 1992 elections.
Abad described Salonga as a man who lived a simple life and always armed with well-researched documents.
“He devoted self to study and research. He was a remarkable man,” Abad said.
Belmonte said Salonga was a great source of inspiration and a man with incorruptible mind and character.
“Ninoy called him a professor who went into a brink of death twice. Future leaders will heed to his wisdom and best way to honor him is to emulate what he did. You will be truly missed. You’re one of the best,” Belmonte said.
Salonga was chosen as one of the most outstanding senators with his significant legislation, which included the State Scholarship Law, the Disclosure of Interest Act, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder.
He was a 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service and a recipient of numerous international and local academic and civic awards and citations, according to the resolution.
Born to a Presbyterian pastor, Esteban Salonga, and a market vendor, Bernardita Reyes, Salonga was born on June 22, 1920. He was an outstanding student and champion debater at the University of the Philippines College of Law and a co-topnocher in the 1944 Bar Examinations with a grade of 95.3 percent.
Dubbed the Nation’s Fiscalizer, Salonga succumbed to cardiac arrest at the Philippine Heart Center on Thursday, March 10. He was 95.