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US, Germany, EU bid farewell to a ’great friend‘

The international community on Thursday mourned the death of former Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, and noted his contribution to strengthening foreign relations under his leadership.

In a tweet, John Law, Chargé d’Affaires of the US embassy in Manila, expressed his gratitude to Aquino, known as PNoy to Filipinos, for continued partnership with the US, noting that his death was "heartbreaking."

"On behalf of the US Embassy, I offer our deepest condolences to former President Benigno Aquino III’s family and loved ones at this heartbreaking time. We are saddened by President Aquino’s passing and will always be thankful for our partnership," said Law.

Aquino, 61, who served as President from 2010 until 2016, was well-regarded by the US government, which helped his administration beef up Manila's modest military capacities in the face of a confrontation with China over the contested South China Sea.

Germany's embassy in Manila was also saddened by Aquino's death, saying he was a "great friend" to their country.

The embassy recalled Aquino's state visit in Germany in September 2014, which "marked an important milestone" for the two nations.

"During his visit... several bilateral agreements and exchanges of notes in the spheres of social security, trade and education were signed at a ceremony held in the German Federal Foreign Office," the embassy said in a statement.

The European Union expressed its sympathies as well to the Aquino family, noting that the EU-Philippines Partnership Cooperation Agreement was signed during his term.

Australia's ambassador to Manila Steven Robinson offered his condolences to the Aquinos, and remembered PNoy's visit to Australia in 2012.

"While the Philippines mourns his loss, we remember fondly his State Visit to Australia in 2012 and the legacy of partnership and bayanihan we shared," Robinson said.

It was under the Aquino administration when the Philippines brought China to the arbitral tribunal over its vast claims in the South China Sea.

Manila's victory against Beijing was announced in July 2016 after Duterte had assumed power. Duterte, who pursued friendly ties with China, has called the ruling a mere piece of paper.

'Remarkable legacy'

The Department of Foreign Affairs has exalted what it described as “remarkable legacy” left behind by the passing of Aquino in the country’s foreign policy, calling him “a great man, leader and nationalist.”

The DFA led by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., expressed condolences to Aquino’s family and recognized the former leader’s legacy related to foreign policy and history.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs joins the nation in mourning the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III,” it said in a statement.

“The Department offers its condolences to the President’s family and friends, and joins the Filipino people in grieving the loss of a great man, leader and nationalist,” it added.

"I’m out of Twitter from grief over the death of a sea-green incorruptible, brave under armed attack, wounded in crossfire, indifferent to power and its trappings, and ruled our country with a puzzling coldness but only because he hid his feelings so well it was thought he had none; it was the way he and his siblings were raised by a great woman — their mother and of our restored democracy (without her none in power yesterday and today would be)," Locsin said.

"I beg his sisters to allow me the honor to share their grief. He wasn’t fond of me but I could not bring myself not to admire him," he added.

Noynoy was the only son of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino.

His elder sister, Pinky Abellada, confirmed his passing when she faced the media along with sisters Ballsy Cruz, Viel Dee, and Kris Aquino.

Legacy of partnership

Also extending their condolences were the Spanish Embassy, United Kingdom Ambassador to Manila Daniel Pruce, and Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson.

The Swiss Embassy said the Switzerland-Philippine relations were likewise strengthened during Aquino's term.

"The Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines wishes to express its sincere condolences to the Filipino people and the family of former President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III," it said.

The Netherlands Ambassador to Manila, Saskia de Lang, said Aquino's administration "exemplified how decisive reforms and good governance can spur economic growth and sustainable progress."

"The Philippines and the Netherlands enjoyed strong economic and political bilateral ties under his leadership, and we continue to build on that until this day. On behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones left behind during this difficult time," she said.

The DFA said Philippine flags in embassies and consulates across the world will be flown at half-staff in honor of the former president.

The Embassy of France, for its part, said Aquino "leaves a legacy of leadership and reform founded on democratic values, economic prosperity, and honesty."

Topics: Department of Foreign Affairs , Benigno Aquino III , United States , Germany , Teodoro Locsin Jr
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