Obituary
Thank you, President Aquino

President Aquino

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom mourns with the Filipino people and the liberal community worldwide for the untimely passing of Former Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. He led a “straight path” to ensure that lives were uplifted through honest and decent governance.

President Aquino was a recipient of the FNF Freedom Medal. FNF recognized the successful reforms that he introduced in the areas of education, anti-corruption, and rule of law. He personally accepted the medal during his visit to Berlin, Germany in September 2014.

Then FNF Chairman Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt delivered a speech to honor President Aquino whom he called “an inspiration to Liberals worldwide.” “You do what is right because you know that it is right, even in the face of opposition and obstruction from vested interests,” said Dr. Gerhardt. The full text is below.

Rest in peace, President Aquino.

Presentation of the Friedrich Naumann Medal to 
H.E. Benigno Simeon Aquino III

The Liberal Party of the Philippines is our oldest partner in Asia, and we have worked together since FNF opened our Manila office in 1986. This was on the heels of the People Power Revolution that caused the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship, and the Philippines regaining its freedom. Surely, this triumph in the Philippines, caused by ordinary people, served as an inspiration to those in Central and Eastern Europe who only three years later threw off seven decades of communist rule.

The seeds of this were sown by ordinary Germans, first of all in Leipzig, when they successfully challenged the dictatorship. As it happens, Leipzig was also the place where your national freedom hero, Dr. José Rizal, stayed precisely 118 years ago to the day. Three months later Dr. Rizal came to Berlin to finish his famous book Noli Me Tangere. You see, you and us, we go back a long time, Mr. President. There is a special freedom bond between our peoples.

Mr. President, Filipinos continue to serve as an inspiration to Liberals worldwide. You, personally, are the embodiment and the instigator of this inspiration. Your ‘straight path’, the ‘daang matuwid’, is our motivation too. You were very clear in your election campaign about what your plans were. And when elected that is what you set out to do.

You do what is right because you know that it is right, even in the face of opposition and obstruction from vested interests:

  • You promoted the law on reproductive health, which is a monumental piece of social liberal legislation, enabling families – and in particular girls and women – to shape their own lives. In many cases this will help poorer families to escape from poverty.
  • You released political prisoners and established an inter-agency committee headed by the Justice Secretary to take an inventory of unsolved severe human rights violations. And very importantly, in 2011 the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court was finally ratified.
  • Under your leadership the progress of The Philippines in the field of foreign investments and economic growth has been truly remarkable. From the sick man of Asia, your country has become a growth leader in the region. Much of this is due to better tax collection, to greater transparency and less corruption.
  • Your administration’s continued efforts in eliminating corruption in all levels of government and investment in industry and infrastructure are undoubtedly positive signals for foreign investors. The booming economy and rise of the middle class are all good indicators. You are planning to further open up the economy and a competition law is in the making. More economic freedom will benefit many Filipino’s.
  • Your reforms in the field of education will be felt for decades to come. Adding three extra years to the 10-year basic education curriculum is a bid to put Filipino students on a par with their peers in other countries.
  • There is no freedom in poverty, no freedom when there are no opportunities. Your expanded Conditional Cash Transfer Program helps the Filipino’s below the poverty line to address short-term financial needs and promotes that their children are immunized and allowed to go to school. Along with creating inclusive growth and creating economic opportunities, these are important long-term measures against poverty.
  • Mr. President, when you flew to Japan to meet the leader of the Muslim rebels, no one was sure of the outcome and it was a political risk of the highest order. Your personal commitment to peace has been decisive. Peace in Mindanao will promote safety and economic growth for everyone, and bring to an end the activities of extremist groups such as Abu Sayyaf – who are also keeping two German citizens hostage who we all hope dearly, will be released very soon. This week you presented the draft law on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro to the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives. This is undoubtedly a crucial step to ensuring long-lasting peace, stability, and progress in Muslim Mindanao.
  • Mr. President, under your leadership the Philippines have chosen to take the legal route, through the UN’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg to settle territorial disputes in the region and to avoid military conflict.

Mr. President, we worked with and stood by the Liberal Party, in good times but also when times were hard. But Liberalism is not merely a political programme. It is much more than that. Liberalism is a culture and a character. It is needed to give the right answers to the many challenges of our time. Your political achievements demonstrate that liberal answers are needed everywhere in the world, also here in Germany.

Like Noel Cabangon: we want our citizens to be able to say or sing Akoy Malaya (I Am Free).

President Aquino, it is my great honour, on behalf of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, to present to you the Friedrich Naumann Freedom Medal, for our longtime partnership and being an inspiration and example of leadership to Liberals around the world.

Thank you.