MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario paid his final respects on Thursday to Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, whom the cabinet official described as one of the greatest supporters of the Philippines in United States.
“It was an honor for me to bid farewell to such a giant of a man,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila quoted Del Rosario as saying after attending the solemn ceremonies at the US Capitol in honor of the late American legislator.
“Senator Inouye will always be remembered for his strong support for the Philippines. With his unexpected passing, we lost our leading champion in the US Congress,” Del Rosario added.
Del Rosario personally conveyed President Aquino’s message of condolences to the senator’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Kenny and other members of his family.
Del Rosario joined other ranking US officials and members of the diplomatic corps in paying their respects to the World War II combat veteran, who died Monday of respiratory complications. Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. was also present at the Capitol Rotunda.
In an earlier letter of condolence to Mrs. Inouye, Del Rosario described the late senator as a true friend of the Philippines, adding that he was “our champion in the US Congress, advancing Philippines-US relations by the judicious exercise of leadership roles in the US Senate which made bipartisan support for our causes possible.”
“Senator Inouye will likewise be remembered by the families of countless Filipino World War II veterans who finally received the long-delayed recognition of their sacrifices,” Del Rosario said.
Surviving Filipino war veterans, represented by Veterans Federation of the Philippines president Col. Emmanuel De Ocampo, said they “mourn the loss of a dear, dear friend.”
“Sen. Dan Inouye understood what the Filipino veterans are fighting for and that is recognition and just compensation from the US government,” De Ocampo said.
In 2009, Inouye made possible the passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund as part of the economic stimulus package signed by US President Barack Obama. As a result, surviving recognized Filipino veterans based in US received a one-time payment of $15,000 while those in the Philippines received $9,000.
At the time of his death, Inouye was the most senior senator, Dean of the Senate and President Pro Tempore. He was also the second longest-serving US senator in history.
A member of the Democratic Party, he was also instrumental in advocating the passage of the Save Our Industries Act, which seeks to expand Philippine-US trade in textiles and apparel.