Philippines lays to rest official killed in crash

Philippine President Benigno Aquino led a state funeral on Tuesday for one of the country's most respected politicians, who died in a light-plane crash.

Thousands of people lined the streets as Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo's funeral cortege made its way from a Catholic basilica to a nearby crematorium in his home town of Naga in the far east of the Philippines.

In his eulogy, Aquino paid tribute to Robredo as a leader who got things done while rising above the corruption that infests Philippine politics.

"He was a trail blazer. He showed you can succeed in politics without becoming a traditional politician," Aquino said during the funeral that was broadcast live on national television.

"All of Naga feel like they have lost a father," he said, wearing a black arm band as a sign of mourning.

Aquino's entire cabinet attended the funeral of a colleague whom they had hailed as perhaps the most hard working among them.

They stood beside Robredo's grieving widow and three daughters -- aged 12, 18 and 24, -- some of them teary eyed as police and military honour guards in crisp blue and green uniforms carried the coffin.

As the mournful bugle music "Taps" played, Aquino handed the Philippine flag that draped Robredo's coffin to his widow.

A three-volley salute by 21 military riflemen followed, before the coffin was wheeled inside the crematorium for a private ceremony reserved for family members.

Robredo, 54, was on his way home to Naga aboard a twin-engine airplane when it encountered engine trouble and plunged into the deep sea in the central Philippines on August 18.

After a three-day search, divers pulled Robredo's remains from the wreck on the seabed. The pilot and his co-pilot also died, while Robredo's security aide survived.

Aquino appointed Robredo shortly after he won the presidency in 2010 on a platform to end corruption.

Robredo was widely praised for leading reforms in the country's 143,000-strong corruption-plagued police force and seeking to implement a policy of transparency in government.

His political star rose in 2000 when he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for good governance. The well-respected award recognises achievers annually across the region.

 

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