Manila (AsiaNews) - Pope Benedict XVI expressed "profound sadness" at the death of Corazon Aquino, whose funeral will be held August 5 in Manila. This morning the body was carried inside the cathedral. The procession, accompanied by close family, was followed by tens of thousands of people who spilled into the streets to pay homage to the former Philippine president, much loved by her fellow citizens.
In a telegram sent by Cardinal Tarcisione Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, to Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, the pope stressed the "courageous commitment [of Cory Aquino] to the freedom of the Filipino people, her strong rejection of violence and intolerance and her contribution to the reconstruction of a just and coherent political order in her beloved homeland. " Benedict XVI also recalled the figure of Aquino as a "woman of deep and unshakable faith."
Citizens can pay homage to the remains of the former President until tomorrow evening. The funeral will be held August 5 at 9 am, after which the body will be buried at the Manila Memorial Park, next to her husband Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino. The family rejected the proposal for a state funeral, opting for a strictly private one. Among the many personalities who have made their final farewell to Aquino include Alfredo Lim, Mayor of Manila, Feliciano Belmonte, mayor of Quezon City and Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Filipino Catholics remember her as a "deeply religious person", who contributed to the democratic process in the country fighting against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. "Cory had a deep faith in God - emphasizes Fr. Cielito R. Almaz, of the Order of Friars Minor - and it is through faith and prayer that she retained office while president and in the last days of her disease”. The priest, pastor of the church of Saint' Anthony in Manila, stressed that among the many merits of Aquino, the most important one remains "the adoption of the Constitution of 1987" which allowed the return to democracy in the country. "
Father Sison Arisotn, pastor of the Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus and Mary - where Aquino attended Mass - remembers the character of the woman, who did not have a “celebrity demeanor: she spoke with everyone. She was a member of the parish like the rest of us!” comments the priest. Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, called "Cory" Aquino an icon of what a true leader must be, honest and true” at a “crucial moment in the nation’s history”. According to Bishop Soc Villegas, bishop of the diocese of Balanga, the woman brought "grace, courage and moral strength" to Filipinos who had a "desperate need of hope."