MANILA – One of the Cabinet members of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III explained the reason behind the iconic “no wang-wang” policy, or ban on unauthorized use of blaring sirens, of the late state leader.
Former Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, during the necrological services for Aquino in Ateneo De Manila University on Friday, recalled in his eulogy that he first met the former President, famously known as “PNoy”, in a birthday party in Cavite during their younger years. He did not specify when exactly.
According to Almendras, Aquino hitched a ride with him back to Quezon City after his newfound friend’s companion went in another direction. 
“Wala siyang kasama pauwi. Wala siyang sasabayan. Bagong kilala ko lang siya. Pareho po kami taga-Quezon City. Sabi ko, ‘Gusto mo tayo na lang magsama? Sabay na lang tayo umuwi,'” he said.
(He had no one to go home with. I just began to know him. We both live in Quezon City. I said, ‘You want to ride with me. We can go home together.)
Almendras noted that during that time, it was getting late and there was a curfew in the Philippines due to martial law, which was imposed by then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Aquino’s father, Ninoy, was the strongman’s major political rival who led those who opposed military rule in the country. He was assassinated in 1983, a spark that led to the People Power Revolution in 1986, that toppled the Marcos regime. 
“Hindi ho pwedeng mahuli si PNoy sa curfew, ‘di po ba? So timing talaga, sinigurado namin,” Almendras said.
(PNoy can’t be caught during curfew, right? So we had to make sure we go home on time.)
According to the former Cabinet member, they grew very close after that.
Almendras said that one of his relatives called one day when the latter learned about his friendship with Aquino, warning him not to get too close with Ninoy’s son amid the Marcos dictatorship.
“‘Yung isang kamag-anak ko tinawagan ako, ‘Wag mong gawin ‘yan … pano kapag huhulihin ‘yan? Masasama ka,'” Almendras recalled.
(He said, ‘Don’t do that … what if he gets caught? You will be affected.’)
This kind of wariness did not escape Aquino’s observation, Almendras said, with the former comparing themselves to lepers.
“Minsan po, sabi niya, ‘Para tayong may ketong. Lumalayo ang mga tao dahil natatakot sila na masali sila sa’tin,'” the former energy chief said.
(He said one time, ‘We’re like lepers. People are shunning us since they’re afraid of being affected by us.’)
Aquino knew how it was like being helpless and powerless.
“But that did not make him a bitter person. No. Nung nag-presidente siya, imbes na bawian niya ang mga nag-api sa kaniya … sinigurado niya na hindi aabusihin ang kapangyarihan,” Almendras said.
(When he became President, instead of going after those who maltreated him … he made sure no one will abuse power during his term.)
He explained that the “no wang-wang” policy was a representation of the “abuse of power.”
“Hindi naman po illegal mag-wang-wang kung talagang pulis ka o nasa pwesto ka. But, ang punto ho ni PNoy, hindi mo kailangan gawin ‘yan, ‘wag mong gawin ‘yan. Kahit may kapangyarihan ka, ‘wag mong gawin para abusuhin,” Almendras said.
(It’s not illegal really to have sirens if you’re a cop or in a government position. But, PNoy’s point was you don’t need to have that, you shouldn’t do that. Even if you’re in a position of power, don’t abuse it.)
“‘Yan po ang dahilan bakit ayaw po niya ng wang-wang (That was really the reason why he doesn’t like sirens).”
Aquino was swept into power following the death of his mother, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, in 2009.
He implemented the “no wang-wang” policy upon assuming office in 2010 to crack down on the attitude of entitlement of corrupt officials. 
Aquino also pledged “Daang Matuwid,” or clean governance following a nearly 10-year rule of Arroyo, whose administration was tainted with graft allegations. 
A graduate of economics from Ateneo de Manila University, he steered the country towards consistent and stable growth during his 6-year tenure. The Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product averaged 6.25 percent annually, the highest since the 1970s.
It was under the Aquino administration when the Philippines brought China to the arbitral tribunal over its vast claims in the West Philippine Sea. Manila’s victory against Beijing was announced in July 2016 after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power. 
Duterte, who has pursued friendly ties with China, has called the ruling a mere piece of paper.
Aquino was largely criticized for his handling of the Mamasapano incident, where 44 Special Action Force troopers died after they were ambushed and outnumbered by rebel gunmen on Jan. 25, 2015.
Aquino died on Thursday due to renal disease, only 5 years after he stepped down. He was 61.
Despite the issues Aquino faced during his presidential term, Almendras thanked him for the “trees he planted” for the Philippines during that time.
“Maraming salamat sa maraming puno mong tinatanim kahit alam mong hindi ka makikinabang sa puno na ‘yun. Alam ng Diyos kung ano ang iyong ginawa para sa bayan at para sa mga Pilipino,” he said.
(Thank you for the many trees you planted even though you knew you weren’t going to benefit from it. God knows what you did for the country and for the Filipinos.)