Late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III used to carry a copy of the Constitution and a briefing kit in every meeting or event, according to one of his former staff.
Aquino, the country’s 15th president, passed away on Thursday morning, June 24.
He was laid to rest beside his parents Benigno Aquino Jr. and Cory Aquino at the Manila Memorial Park on June 26.
In a Facebook post shared on the same day, the staff named Cedrik Forbes recounted how detail-oriented his former boss Aquino was with the materials he carried to work.
“The president never goes to a meeting or event without being prepared. He always makes sure that when he makes a decision, he has studied the matter thoroughly and he goes back to the basics—what is in the constitution, how will the people benefit, can we get more by spending less,” Forbes said.
He noted that Aquino kept these materials in a bag called “the aide’s bag,” which contained the items or materials he normally asked for in an event or meeting.
A photo of him carrying this was also attached to the post. Forbes enumerated that the bag normally contained the following:
- A copy of the Constitution
- Maps, including maps of the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the world map and the West Philippine Sea
- Briefing kits
- Photos, graphs, charts or articles
- A pack of candy
- Reserve water bottle (replaced every day)
- Other “props”
- A change of clothes for the aide depending on the nature of the occasion
Forbes also detailed that Aquino sought for a copy of the Principal Charter when the issues being discussed “becomes muddled.”
Sen. Franklin Drilon earlier shared a similar anecdote where Aquino has a book of the Constitution sitting on top of his desk, citing it as a “hallmark of his presidency.”
“When I see him, when he calls for me as a Senate president or a senator, you know what was [on] his desk? On his desk always was the Constitution of the Philippines,” Drilon told CNN Philippines in an interview last Friday.
Other accounts from Aquino’s staff
Following Forbes’ post, another former staff named Raf Ignacio detailed on Facebook the contents of Aquino’s briefing kit.
- Executive briefer of a meeting or an event
- Well-prepared speech or statement
- A set or list of suggested points to raise during the meeting or event
“Each point was supported with annotations on the background of the issue and what the Philippines stands to gain by pushing a particular agenda item,” Ignacio said.
- Briefing note or a “master document that informs the pronouncements in both the speech and the talking points.”
Similar to Forbes, Ignacio also described Aquino as someone who wanted to be well-informed before making decisions for the country.
The Presidential Management Staff (PMS) was responsible to make sure to aid the late president with all the data to help him make a sound decision, he said.
“The Presidential Management Staff (PMS) fulfills this role through a briefing kit, a set of carefully written documents on everything the president needs to know. The staff is tasked to anticipate everything PNoy would need. His instructions were: ‘Dapat iniisip ko pa lang, nagawa niyo na,’” Ignacio said.
Aquino’s former speechwriter who was part of the Speechwriters Group (SWG) also shared anecdotes of the unwritten rules they followed under Aquino’s term and Manolo Quezon III’s direction.
Mikael De Lara Co stated in a tribute post on June 27 that they were all thankful for the experiences they learned from their previous boss.
“We were twenty-somethings, yes, but we took pride in our jobs. We built our careers imagining how his ideal, best self would speak through our words, and in the process, we all inched towards our own ideal, best selves. We are all thankful,” he said.