I woke up today to a text message from Betina legarda of the Concerned Citizens Movement. It was a message we had half-expected but were never really prepared for.
Josie Lichauco, our ninang and long-time friend of Bayan, had died after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. She suffered the stroke while on vacation in Hong Kong with her family. They were celebrating her birthday. She was confined in Hong Kong, was comatose, then later brought back to the Philippines last Wednesday.
Josie to her friends was a feisty lawyer who crusaded for truth and justice, a vocal advocate against corruption during the Estrada and Arroyo regimes.
She was often present and would speak on stage during broad multisectoral rallies over the past four years as the Arroyo regime confronted the “Hello Garci” scandal, charter change and the NBN-ZTE Deal. She was a convenor of the Concerned Citizens Movement which started out with a series of fora a the Manila Polo Club before progressing to street actions in Ayala and other places. I remember her speaking strongly against the spate of extrajudicial killings in 2007. She led a march to the embassy of the European Union in Makati.
She was there visiting the Batasan 5 when they were restricted to the House of Representatives in 2006. During rallies, she would joke that she was an inch or so taller than Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and that got the crowd roaring with laughter.
Many times she would go up on stage during rallies and give fiery speeches, despite difficulties with her physical condition. She had a sore back that bothered her, but that never stopped her from going to Commonwealth for the SONA rallies, or appear in protests in Manila, or Ayala. Rain or shine, she was there. If she committed to a cause, she would give it her full support.
Josie was relatively well-off but she frowned on the ostentatious display of wealth by some public officials. She believes in simplicity for public and religious leaders. One time she talked about how she didn’t like all the pomp and glam during the ordination of a bishop. Or why she thought it was improper for a Comelec official to be buying designer suits.
Our Ninang was always generous with her friendship and advice. We will miss her, as a good friend and as a staunch ally of Bayan. Her passing is a great loss to the people. Up to the end, she stood for her principles and was not afraid to object to the wrongs of the status quo
We offer our sincerest condolences to her family. We hope more public officials emulate the brilliant example of Secretary Josefina Trinidad Lichauco, unwavering foe of corruption, and crusader for truth and justice.