Binay to attend Mandela rites

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay will join roughly 70 heads of state and government to attend today’s memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Binay left last night for South Africa to represent President Aquino in the state funeral. Binay will present Aquino’s letter of condolences to the bereaved family of the anti-apartheid leader.

“I will leave tonight to extend our sympathies to the people of South Africa on the passing of their revered leader, former President Nelson Mandela,” Binay said yesterday. “The government and the people of the Philippines stand with them at this hour of their great loss.”

Binay was expected to leave at 7:55 p.m. Monday via Cathay Pacific Airways flight CX902.

Earlier, Binay extolled Mandela, calling him an embodiment of “the unconquerable spirit and the healing power of forgiveness.”

Binay also said Mandela inspires people to “strive for a world where freedom, equality, tolerance and understanding reign.”

Mandela will be buried next Sunday in Qunu, his hometown some 550 miles from Johannesburg.

Presidents pay world’s respects

Presidents past and present, global figures and A-list celebrities made their way to South Africa on Monday to pay the world’s respects at a memorial service and state funeral for Mandela.

More than 80,000 people will attend an impassioned, emotional tribute Tuesday to the South Africa’s inspirational first black president at the FNB stadium in Soweto, where he made his last major public appearance for the 2010 World Cup final.

The service is seen as a final chance for grieving South Africans to unite in a mass celebration of Mandela’s life ahead of the more formal state funeral.

Although Mandela had been critically ill for months, the announcement of his death on Thursday night was still a body blow for a country that had looked to his unassailable moral authority as a comforting constant in a time of uncertain social and economic change.

Parliament was to meet Monday in Cape Town for a special session to honor the hero who emerged from 27 years in prison to lead his country out of the shadow of apartheid into a multi-racial democracy.

Mandela last appeared in the House in February 2010, the 20th anniversary of his release.

His former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and grandson Mandla are both ruling African National Congress (ANC) members of parliament, but it was unclear if they would participate in the session.

“We hope some members of the Mandela family will be there,” ANC caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo said.

Former president FW de Klerk, who shared the 1993 Nobel peace Prize with Mandela, was also invited.

For the past three days, 24-hour vigils have been held outside the Johannesburg residence where Mandela died – the mood alternating between one of profound loss and relief that his physical suffering was over.

“Madiba was our version, the South African version, of the great Mahatma Gandhi,” said Laloo Isu Chiba, a fellow prison inmate of Mandela’s on Robben Island.

“For many, many, many generations to come, it will be almost impossible to get a person... with his commitment, his dedication and his qualities,” Chiba said.

Winnie and Mandla both attended a Methodist service in Johannesburg on Sunday as part of a national day of prayer for Mandela observed in churches, mosques, synagogues and temples across the country.

President Jacob Zuma used the occasion to make a passionate public appeal for South Africans to unite behind Mandela’s ideals of equality, freedom and justice and to “keep his dream alive.”  – Jose Rodel Clapano, Pia Lee-Brago











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