EDITORIAL - Public yearning
() - August 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Former President Corazon Aquino died of natural causes, unlike her husband Benigno Aquino Jr., whose assassination triggered years of mass protests that culminated in the collapse of the Marcos dictatorship. Those long lines of mourners at the wake of Cory Aquino, and then the mammoth crowd that turned her funeral procession into a daylong event, were not expressing outrage against a despicable murder or demanding the ouster of a sitting president.

But that turnout at the funeral cannot be interpreted purely as grief over the loss of a beloved leader and sympathy for those she left behind. Many prominent public officials, including former presidents, have died without receiving even a fraction of the tribute that Filipinos accorded Cory Aquino. One of the former presidents still awaits burial. Those massive crowds at Corazon Aquino’s wake and funeral were expressing more than grief; they were also applauding her virtues and hoping to see these in public service. More than any former Philippine president, she was known for two qualities: integrity, and an abiding belief in democracy, with all its warts.

Malacañang officials have reassured the nation that there is no need for a public upheaval to compel President Arroyo to step down. She will hand over power as scheduled on June 30, 2010, two of her spokesmen declared, as mandated by the Constitution following elections in May. In her first meeting with US President Barack Obama, on the eve of Cory Aquino’s death, President Arroyo was also told that the American leader was looking forward to the 2010 elections as a reaffirmation of democracy in the Philippines.

Filipinos have the patience to wait for this peaceful handover of power, so Malacañang is right — there is no reason for the President to worry that she might be ousted by the massive crowd at Cory Aquino’s funeral. But as the general elections approach, candidates would do well to keep in mind the message of that crowd. There is a strong public yearning for the qualities that turned a simple housewife into an extraordinary icon. Voters will look for those qualities when they make their choices in May.

AQUINO BENIGNO AQUINO JR. CORAZON AQUINO CORY CORY AQUINO FORMER FORMER PRESIDENT CORAZON AQUINO MALACA PRESIDENT PRESIDENT ARROYO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
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