He had done great things for the country. He deserves to be appreciated and be respected.

While awaiting my turn to virtually present my study that was motivated by an executive order issued by former President Benigno Aquino III in an international research conference, news about his passing started coming up on my screen. I’m not a supporter of any political personality, but I was saddened by the news. 

As I am the fourth presenter and the first one has just started with her presentation, I reached for my pen and started scribbling about the thoughts I have on the late president.

And because I’m also battling against ‘virtual stage fright,’ sharing with you a paragraph from the introduction section of my research paper might just be a good resort.

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“Contrary to President Arroyo’s initiatives in the revitalization of the mining industry in the country, former President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 79 (E.O. 79) which became known as the Mining E.O. on July 6, 2012. The policy imposes a moratorium on new mining contracts and provides new terms and conditions for the existing ones. In the province of Palawan alone, 300 mining applications were canceled under the Aquino administration. On his third SONA on July 23, 2012, he emphasized that E.O. 79 was just the first step to strengthening the imposition of environmental laws that would protect the natural resources at the same time uplift the living conditions of the Filipinos. He then stressed: ‘These natural resources are yours; it shouldn’t happen that all that’s left to you is a tip after they’re extracted.’” 

The EO contains many provisions that are favorable to the environment. But what seemed special about it, at least for me as Palaweña, is that it accompanies a directive for his environmental secretary to desist mining applications in Palawan, bared in a news report under the headline “Aquino memo to DENR: No new mining permits in Palawan” published by Inquirer.Net on July 11, 2012. 

President Noynoy might not be the great president we had, but he had done great things for the country. He deserved to be appreciated and be respected.

His Executive Order No. 29 of 2012, naming parts of the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea in which the Kalayaan Island Group is a part, is for another story.

For now, let me have my turn for my presentation while giving respect to the president who cared for the country’s last ecological frontier – Palawan.

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