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‘West Philippine Sea Victory Day’: Senators file measures honoring PNoy's legacy

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
âWest Philippine Sea Victory Dayâ: Senators file measures honoring PNoy's legacy
Noynoy Aquino, 15th president of the Philippines, was the son of democracy champions Ninoy, a martyred senator, and Corazon, who was installed president after the decades-long Marcos dictatorship was deposed in 1986. Noynoy Aquino died at age 61 in Quezon City, five years after his term ended. He is seen in this 2014 file photo.
Malacañang Photo Bureau / File

MANILA, Philippines — Several resolutions honoring the legacy of the late President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III have been filed in the Senate, including one seeking to declare July 12 as "National West Philippine Sea Victory Day" in commemoration of the country's arbitral win against China. 

The fifteenth president of the Philippines died "peacefully in his sleep" in the early hours of June 24 due to renal disease secondary to diabetes, according to the official statement from his family. He was 61 years old. 

In the days following, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sens. Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan all filed separate resolutions honoring Aquino's life and work. 

In Proposed Senate Resolution No. 762 filed Monday, Hontiveros said "it is essential that the spirit of the country's landmark legal victory in the Hague be kept alive in the hearts of our people through a special day of remembrance" given China's continued incursions and harassment of Filipinos fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea. 

She proposed declaring every July 12, the anniversary of Manila's arbitral win, "National West Philippine Sea Victory Day," which she said would also serve to "honor the efforts of the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino in securing the landmark legal victory." 

It was under Aquino's leadership that the Philippines brought its maritime dispute with China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands in 2014. 

Beijing continues to reject the ruling that invalidated its expansive claims over the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, and sends its ships into the Philippines' exclusive economic zone despite the numerous diplomatic protests filed by Manila.

Aquino's successor, President Rodrigo Duterte, early into his term said he would "set aside" the landmark ruling to pursue closer ties with China.

After tensions flared over the deployment of over 200 Chinese ships to the West Philippine Sea in March, Duterte derided the arbitral win as "just a piece of paper" that he would "throw away." 

READ: Locsin: South China Sea ruling a 'North Star' that 'benefits the world' Locsin eulogizes 'brave, incorruptible' PNoy as DFA lauds foreign policy legacy

'Landmark reform' 

Sen. Pangilinan on Tuesday said he filed Proposed Senate Resolution 765 which "highlights the accomplishments of the Aquino administration that elevated the Philippines from being the 'Sick Man of Asia' to being one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

In addition to the arbitral win against China, it honors what Pangilinan called "landmark reforms" implemented during Aquino's term such as the K to 12 Basic Education Program, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, investments in agriculture, and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamaro that paved the way for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Senate President Sotto hailed many of these same accomplishments in a resolution released to reporters on Saturday where he also extended the upper chamber's condolences to the Aquino family.  

He also lauded Aquino's tenures in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. 

"[A]s Member of the House of Representatives, he was elected as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives on November 8, 2004, but relinquished the post on February 21, 2006 as he weighed party-loyalty more than the position he was holding," Sotto said.

He was referring to Aquino's withdrawal of support from then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, along with other members of the Liberal Party led by then-Senate President Franklin Drilon, following allegations that she rigged the 2004 elections in her favor. 

In the Senate, Sotto said, Aquino "continued his anti-corruption advocacy," and filed other reform-oriented bills. 

The former president was laid to rest beside his parents, democracy icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino, on June 26, Saturday. 

NOYNOY AQUINO SENATE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 27, 2021 - 2:10pm

Former President Noynoy Aquino was rushed to the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City, where journalists are currently gathering following reports of his hospitalization. (File photo by Philstar.com/AJ Bolando)

June 27, 2021 - 2:10pm

Friends and supporters should now make the achievements and good work of the late President Noynoy Aquino known, says Vice President Leni Robredo.

Robredo, Aquino's Liberal Party colleague, says that telling truths about Aquino at every chance they get, now that he is gone, is an obligation.

"That what we failed to do, we could have exerted more effort to show that—not that we have to announce all his accomplishments—but to correct falsehoods about him," Robredo says on her weekly radio show on dzXL.

June 26, 2021 - 1:48pm

Former President Benigno Aquino III is laid to rest beside his parents, democracy icons Benigno Aquino Jr. and Cory Aquino, at the Manila Memorial Park.

June 26, 2021 - 1:41pm

The AFP chief presents the flag to the Aquino family.

June 26, 2021 - 1:31pm

The Aquino family blesses the urn containing the ashes of the former president.

June 26, 2021 - 1:24pm

The urn which contains the ashes of former President Aquino arrives in front of the tomb where the late president will be laid to rest next to his parents.

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