#FactsFirst | What was life like for the late President Benigno Aquino III after Malacañang? Why did he stay out of public view? Which issues affected him the most and lingered long after his presidency? Get to know him up close in this interview with his former spokeswoman, lawyer Abigail Valte.

After stepping down, the late President Benigno Aquino III continued to check on the families of the 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) troops killed in the top-secret Mamasapano operation, an incident that rocked his administration late and threatened to derail his peace deal with a Moro rebel group.

Aquino wanted to make sure that the families got all the assistance, such housing support and scholarships, which his administration had promised, said lawyer Abigail Valte, a former deputy presidential spokeswoman.

“For him, ipinangako natin ito. Siguraduhin nating naibigay natin,” she said on the “Facts First” podcast with journalist Christian Esguerra.

“Some of them ran into roadblocks so he was really concerned about making sure that those were delivered.”

Aquino, 61, who died of a renal disease last June 24, ultimately took responsibility for the botched operation as commander in chief, Valte said.

“It weighed on him very much,” she said, recalling how the former president would call her whenever he remembered something about the incident in January 2015.

“Whatever the legalities of it were, we knew na talagang he thought about it, I’m sure, over and over again.”

His administration was then pushing hard for a law that would implement his landmark peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But it became even more complicated after some MILF combatants clashed with SAF troopers, who were supposed to arrest two high-profile terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“It would not have happened if his instructions were followed,” Valte said.

The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court later dropped the charge of usurpation of authority against Aquino. It also cleared the ground commander, retired police general Getulio Napeñas, and Alan Purisima, former Philippine National Police chief.