MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has extended his condolences to the family of former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, who passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 61.
“I join the entire nation in mourning the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III. I express my deepest sympathies to his siblings, Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris, as well as to all his loved ones, friends, and supporters, in this period of sadness,” Duterte said in a statement.
“May you take comfort in the knowledge that he is now in a better place with his Creator,” he added.
He also urged everyone to “set aside our differences” and to pay respects to the late leader.
“Let us all take this opportunity to unite in prayer and set aside our differences as we pay respects to a leader who has given his best to serve the Filipino people,” he said.
“His memory and his family’s legacy of offering their lives for the cause of democracy will forever remain etched in our hearts,” he added.
Malacañang, through Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, earlier expressed gratitude for Aquino’s service to the country and remembered his legacy as a leader.
Roque said Aquino was a “simple public servant elected by people”.
The Palace said that as a former head of state, Aquino may be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, but the decision would depend on his family.
Roque also said he has no information yet on whether or not a state funeral will be held for the late president.