PH mourns Mandela
By SAMMY JULIAN Manila News Bureau Chief
MANILA — The Philippines joined the whole world in mourning the passing of former South African president and Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela.
Mandela, who led South Africa out of apartheid and became the nation’s first black president, died at age 95.
He passed away in the company of his family at around 8:50 p.m. on December 5.
In a statement issued yesterday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said Mandela “was not only a courageous and compassionate champion of democracy and racial equality for his own country but also stood as a beacon of inspiration and hope for all those who sought freedom in every corner of the globe, including the Philippines.”
The Philippines will forever be honored to have hosted Mandela’s visit to the country in 1996, Hernandez said.
He said Filipinos will also recall with pride and appreciation the former South African leader’s historic meeting with a fellow icon of democracy, the late former president Corazon Aquino, in Capetown in the same year.
“The late (South African former) president Mandela’s extraordinary integrity, his tireless commitment and his grand vision that embraced equality for all even under the most trying of circumstances, shall never be forgotten,” Hernandez said.
He added: “Filipinos who stood in the vanguard of the world’s struggles for freedom with our very own People’s Power stand in solidarity at this sad moment with our brothers and sisters in South Africa and with those who love freedom everywhere.”
Credited with dismantling South Africa’s system of apartheid, which institutionalized racism, Mandela was an international symbol of reconciliation and human rights.
A trained lawyer who rose to prominence as a leader of the African National Congress’ fight against the Afrikaaner regime, Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
He served 27 years, mostly in the isolated Robben Island prison for political inmates. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990.
Mandela later served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999.
He was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom and is held in deep respect within South Africa as the “Father of the Nation.”/PN