MANILA, Philippines – Mga kapanalig ng dating Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III Inaasahan kong siya ay gagaling at magpapalakas pagkatapos lumala ang kanyang kalusugan kaya “hindi namin inaasahan na darating ito,” sinabi ni Senador Francis Pangilinan, isang malapit na kaalyado ng yumaong pinuno, noong Biyernes.
“Nagulantang. Nabigla. Hindi namin inaasahan [Startled. Shocked. We did not expect it] Hindi namin inaasahan na darating ito. Alam namin na mayroon siyang kondisyong medikal, alam namin na dumadaan siya sa dialysis ngunit hindi namin inisip na [we didn’t think it would lead to this,” Pangilinan said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“We all assumed that this was just temporary. He will get stronger, he will get through this…We were always looking forward to that day that he would get better that’s why we are shocked,” he added.
According to Pangilinan, it was after the May 2019 elections and “just before” the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country that Aquino’s health began to deteriorate.
“He was OK until 2019. It was only after 2019, I think mid-2019 and just before COVID, that he was rushed to the hospital and was in the ICU. But the first three years when he was out of power, he was OK,” the senator said.
“He was attending meetings. We had regular consultations and briefings in his house in Times St. We would go see him on a number of occasions,” he added.
Pangilinan, who served as Aquino’s food security adviser, said “very few” members of the former president’s Cabinet “knew exactly what was going on.”
“The truth is, the Aquino family has always been very guarded about privacy—the irony of being a, pretty much, very public family,” he said.
“We knew he was not well but we didn’t know it was this serious,” he added.
But Pangilinan noted how Aquino would start coughing during meetings and how his Cabinet secretaries would express concerns about it.
“Even during his incumbency, we will always express concern during meetings, bigla siyang uubo nang tuloy-tuloy, kailangang uminom ng tubig so siyempre kami, ‘Ano ba ito?’ [he will suddenly have a coughing fit, he needed to drink water, so we were wondering ‘what is this?’], ”Naalala niya.
Itinuro din ng senador ang paninigarilyo at gawi sa pagkain ni Aquino.
“Siyempre alam namin na siya ay naninigarilyo ng maraming, lahat alam na at kami ay nag-aalala na… saka mahilig sa [he also liked] chicharon. Paborito niya [His favorite is] Pagkain na Intsik, nagustuhan din niya ang pagkain ng mga hindi gaanong malusog [food]. At pagkatapos ay maraming inuming may asukal, ‘sinabi ni Pangilinan.
“Kaya’t diabetes ay sa palagay ko na naiintindihan ko ito at ang kanyang mga bato ay hindi gumana nang dalhin siya sa ICU sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon noong 2019 bago ang COVID,” dagdag niya.
Si Aquino ay pumanaw sa kanyang pagtulog noong Huwebes ng umaga dahil sa sakit sa bato na pangalawa sa diabetes, ayon sa kanyang mga kapatid na babae. Siya ay 61.
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