Former Senate President Jovito Salonga dies at 95

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Jovito Salonga passed away at the age of 95.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Statesman and former Senate President Jovito Salonga passed away due to a cardiac arrest at 2:15 p.m. at the Philippine Heart Center on Thursday (March 10).

He was 95.

Atty. Bobby Mendoza of the Salonga Law Office confirmed the news to CNN Philippines.

Salonga died after years of battling various ailments.

Mendoza said Salonga had been in critical condition since Wednesday.

Salonga was reputed as "the nation's fiscalizer."

He topped three senatorial elections under the administrations of Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos, and Corazon Aquino.

He was Senate President from 1987-1991.

Salonga was one of the most outspoken opponents during the martial law era.

After the Marcos regime was toppled, he became the first chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

He ran for president in the 1992 elections but lost — finishing sixth in the seven-person race.

Passionate advocate of nationalism

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Salonga's death "marks the departure from this life of another of those brave, committed individuals who lit a candle during the deep darkness of the dictatorship; and who contributed to the restoration of our democratic way of life after the triumph of People Power."

He also said Salonga was "a passionate advocate of the rule of law, of nationalism, and of our democratic institutions."

"His life stands as a reproach to all those who would put personal gain ahead of public service; who would lower the standards of public discourse; and who would sacrifice human rights and the rule of law either for personal or partisan advantage."

Intellectual mentor, role model of lawyers

Presidential candidates also issued statements on the passing of the statesman.

Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas II said the passing of their party president emeritus "fills all of us who have served in the Senate, and who are members of the Liberal Party, with deep sadness."

"Ka Jovy was more than a man fortunate to have been raised to the Senate Presidency and elected to the Senate by the Filipino people —he was, himself, an exemplar of what it means to be a Filipino. A lover of freedom; of the law; of human rights and integrity in public service—he was all these things and a mentor to many, including myself," Roxas said.

United Nationalist Alliance standard bearer Jejomar Binay described Salonga as "a pillar of the protest movement who steered the Senate during the difficult years of transition from dictatorship to democracy."

Independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe, for her part, said Salonga "has lived through the most tumultuous years in the nation's history, yet he remained enduring and inspiring positive change."

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court mourned the loss of Salonga who was remembered as "an intellectual mentor and role model to many generations of lawyers."

"The court recognizes his contribution to the shaping of modern jurisprudence in basic human rights fundamental civil liberties especially during martial law and after the restoration of democracy," the statement from the high court added.