LEGAZPI CITY – The Albay provincial government flew the Philippine flag at half-mast to honor former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III who passed away early Thursday.
Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara issued Executive Order No. 21 directing all public government offices in the province to display their respective Philippine flag at half-staff as a sign of mourning.
Bichara said this would continue until July 4 as a gesture of Albayanos' respect, honor, and recognition of the former President for his exemplary service to the country and the Filipino people.
Meanwhile, political leaders in Bicol region expressed their sorrow over the death of the former leader.
Albay First District Rep. Edsel Lagman said, “I am deeply saddened by the untimely death of former President Noynoy Aquino.”
Lagman said during Aquino’s administration, "PNoy", as he was fondly called, approved into law significant measures that he introduced such as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act which, he said, took 13 long years long to be enacted, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 and the Centenarians Act of 2016 which honors Filipino centenarians and grants them additional benefits and privileges.
Meanwhile, Sorsogon Gov. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said, “I was truly saddened to learn the passing of my long-time friend, former President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III, whose presidency from 2010 to 2016 has been admired by many here and abroad for his deep commitment to democracy, human rights, and curbing corruption".
He said Aquino's understanding of the connection of poverty and corruption resonated well during his administration and influenced policies toward empowering the poor while holding public officials accountable for their misdeeds.
“I am quite sure that the world mourns with your loved ones, but with grateful hearts for your contribution to the Filipino people as a public servant and a remarkable person,” Escudero said. “My heartfelt condolences to your family and I pray to God to give them strength in this difficult time. Paalam (Farewell), PNoy.”
Albay Second District Rep. Joey Salceda, said, "I am deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of Former President Benigno S. Aquino, my former classmate and my friend of many decades. He was my classmate in Ateneo and had the same economic teacher - former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo".
"President Aquino will be remembered for his sincere desire to serve the country, the best way he can. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his siblings and his loved ones in their time of loss," he added.
Salceda said the late former President sought to make governance more modern and responsive, adding that it was under his term that budgeting became more participatory through the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) system.
Aquino's expansion of socioeconomic programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program continues to help lift millions out of abject poverty, he also noted.
"I was Governor of Albay during the entire term of President Aquino. With his support, Albay became one of the world’s leaders in DRR (disaster risk reduction) where he initiated Project NOAH, a success story in disaster management and also in climate change adaptation," Salceda said.
Albay Third District Rep. Fernando Cabredo thanked Aquino for serving the country. “Paalam at salamat. (Goodbye and thank you). May you rest in peace with the Lord,” he added.
Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion, in a social media post, said “We are deeply saddened and, still in a state of great disbelief, by the very sudden passing of one of the greatest leaders our country has ever had.”
"We will forever uphold and fight for the legacies you have profoundly established which undeniably brought great change to our country and unswerving hope to Filipinos,” he added.
Meanwhile, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, in a message to the Philippine News Agency, hailed Aquino as a dedicated statesman. (PNA)