By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

The best tribute Filipinos can give to the former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Jr. is choosing leaders that will restore decency in the government, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, O.P. said on Saturday during the funeral Mass for the late chief executive.

Villegas, during the internment Mass held at the Church of Gesú at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, urged Filipinos to pick decent and ethical leaders, which he said were a rarity nowadays.

“His silence after the presidential term was a silence of dignity. As he brought dignity and honesty to his service to the nation as president, he preserved that dignity after his retirement. It was the silence of noble statesmen — now rare and forgotten,” Villegas said.

“The sincerest form of tribute to dear President Noy is to relive his life lessons of decency and ethical leadership. His mortal remains are now ashes but his integrity and decency must resurrect through us and in the leaders we choose,” he added.

Villegas’ homily also looked back at Aquino’s way of leadership.

“He still had so much to teach us about decency and integrity. He still had so much to teach us about good governance and professionalism. He still had so much to teach us about self-sacrifice and simplicity,” he said.

The archbishop also said that the nation not only mourned the death of Aquino, but also the lack of decency in the government.

“The flags at half-mast are not only for the dead president but for the dying decent governance. Tayo ang boss niya. He lived by it,” Villegas said.

Aquino died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of June 24 due to renal disease secondary to diabetes, his family said.

The former president’s cremated remains, placed in an urn, were interred next to his parents Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Corazon “Cory” Aquino at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.