Death of former Czech president Vaclav Havel

The Aquino government extended its condolences to the people of the Czech Republic following the death of former Czech president Vaclav Havel who died on December 18 (Sunday) after a lengthy illness at the age of 75, a Palace official said on Monday.

“We mourn the loss of Mr. Vaclav Havel,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

“He was a shining light in the fight against communism. He was able to provide a leadership during those troubled times and was able to shepherd the Czech Republic,” Lacierda said.

Associated Press (AP) reported that Czech leaders and foreign officials paid tribute to Havel, the dissident playwright who led the 1989 Velvet Revolution that peacefully toppled communism in the former Czechoslovakia.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas called him “the symbol of 1989? and said Havel “did a tremendous job for his country,” the report said.

Born in 1936 to a wealthy family in Czechoslovakia, Havel first came to international fame as a dissident playwright in the 1970s through his involvement with the human rights manifesto Charter 77.

Havel presided over Czechoslovakia’s transition to democracy and a free-market economy. He oversaw Czechoslovakia’s peaceful 1993 split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to BBC News.

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