MANILA, Philippines. Sources close to his family confirmed the passing of former Senate president Jovito Salonga on Thursday, March 10, at the age of 95.
Considered as one of the most esteemed statesmen of the country, Salonga was known for fighting poverty and injustice through discipline and hard work.
The youngest of the five sons of Esteban Salonga, a pastor, and Bernardina Reyes, a vendor, Salonga was born on June 22, 1920 in Pasig City.
In 1944, he topped the bar examinations along with future senator Jose W. Diokno scoring 95.3%. He earned a Masters of Law degree from Harvard Law School in 1948 and Doctor of Law degree from Yale Law School in 1949.
Salonga entered the world of politics in 1961 after being elected representative of Rizal province. In 1965, he topped the senatorial elections. Although he was critically injured during the Plaza Miranda bombing on August 21, 1971, Salonga still managed to top the senatorial polls that year. Salonga sustained a left blind eye and one deaf ear because of the bombing incident.
During martial law in 1980, Salonga was arrested for reportedly masterminding a series of bombings in Metro Manila but was released by President Ferdinand Marcos a month later due to lack of concrete evidence against him and great pressure from his supporters.
He was assigned as the head of the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) in order to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
Although he ran for president in 1992, Salonga only placed 6th in a seven-way race. The statesman retired from politics that same year.
In the Official Gazette website, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda wrote: “His life stands as a reproach to all those who would put personal gain ahead of public service; who would lower the standards of public discourse; and who would sacrifice human rights and the rule of law either for personal or partisan advantage. He joins the ranks of those who have made the position of senator of the Republic an honorable, and respectable, thing. His passing challenges all who would seek election to live up to a life well lived as a patriot and citizen.”