US President Joe Biden extended his condolences to the Filipino people following the passing of former Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, a “valued friend and partner” to Washington.

“He (Aquino) was a valued friend and partner to the United States, and he will long be remembered for serving his country with integrity and selfless dedication,” Biden said in a statement.

Aquino died on Thursday morning at age 61 due to renal disease secondary to diabetes.

Biden, vice president of Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, said he “greatly valued” the time he worked with Aquino, who was Philippine president from June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2016.

“President Aquino’s steadfast commitment to advancing peace, upholding the rule of law, and driving economic growth for all Filipinos, while taking bold steps to promote the rules-based international order, leaves a remarkable legacy at home and abroad that will endure for years to come,” Biden said.

Under Aquino’s term, the Philippines stood up to China against the latter’s claims on the South China Sea.

PH military pays tribute

The Armed Forces (AFP) of the Philippines on Friday morning held eight-gun salutes in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Fort Andres Bonifacio in Taguig City, Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Fort Abad in Manila, Fort Gregorio del Pilar in Baguio City and all AFP Unified Command Headquarters in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as tribute to Aquino.

The military honors were performed throughout the day starting with the eight-gun fire during the reveille time at 5 a.m., followed by gunfire every half-hour starting 6 a.m. until the retreat time at 5 p.m., after which, another eight-gun salute was fired.

At 10 a.m., all troops in all military camps, stations and bases assembled for the official reading of the notice of death of Aquino.

“We give our former president and commander-in-chief our snappiest salute and our pledge to continue to perform our mandate. The banner of his legacy will continue to fly on the hallowed grounds of our camps anywhere in the country,” AFP chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.

“With wisdom and prudence, President Aquino steadfastly steered our country towards economic stability and through the many disasters and challenges that we faced during his term as our leader,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro