Former Philippine President Noynoy Aquino has died

Former Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, an unassuming scion of one of Asia's most prominent political families, died Thursday. He was 61.

Posted  165 Views updated 1 month ago
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Aquino, who served from 2010 to 2016, was the only son of the late former President Corazon Aquino and her assassinated husband, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, both revered for leading the fight to restore democracy in the archipelago nation.

President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman announced Aquino's death hours after local media reported that the former leader had been rushed to a Manila hospital.

"We extend our condolences to the family and loved ones of former President Benigno Simeon "Noynoya" Aquino III and offer our sympathies on his untimely death," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

"We thank the former president for his contributions and services to the country and ask our people to offer prayers for the eternal repose of the former head of state."

Details of the unmarried politician's death have not been announced. The Aquino clan is expected to issue a statement shortly.

Foreign Affairs Minister Teodoro Locsin tweeted that he was "mourning the death of the incorruptible man of the sea."

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He said Aquino was "brave in an armed attack, wounded in the crossfire, indifferent to power and its trappings and ruled our country with disconcerting coolness, but only because he hid his feelings so well that it was thought he had none."

Supreme Court Justice Marwick Leonen, who was Aquino's former peace negotiator with Muslim rebels, expressed his "deep sadness" over the former leader's death.

"I knew him as a good man, driven by a passion to serve our people, diligent in his duties and possessed of an avid and insatiable curiosity for new knowledge and the world at large," Leonen said.

Aquino, who was succeeded by President Rodrigo Duterte, waged an anti-corruption campaign during his term in which major economic reforms were carried out.

Unusually for a conservative Catholic country, Aquino has remained a lifelong bachelor, although he has had relationships with several women.

- Powerful surname.

Aquino was born on February 8, 1960 into one of the country's wealthiest landed political families.

In the 2010 presidential race, he announced his candidacy only after his mother's death from cancer the previous year plunged the country into mourning and demonstrated the power of the family name.

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He has made the fight against corruption his mantra, drawing on his family's clean reputation, and has pledged to reduce poverty, which affects one-third of the population.

His administration achieved average annual economic growth of just over 6.0%, the highest since the 1970s, giving the country investment grade status, but poverty remained endemic.

Aquino, who trained in economics at the elite Ateneo de Manila University, has long been derided by her opponents as a loser with a lucky surname and no managerial or business experience.

They also said she had nothing to show for her more than a decade as a congressman and senator.

But the smoking Aquino blossomed during the campaign, becoming a confident speaker and a strong critic of her predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, who was arrested for corruption after leaving office.

The Aquino family name has been inscribed in Philippine political history through tragedy.

The military shot and killed "Ninoy" Aquino at the Manila airport in 1983, when he returned from American exile to lead a democracy movement against dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The event shocked the world and launched the nonviolent People Power movement that overthrew Marcos. The dead politician's widow, Corazon, led the revolution and succeeded Marcos as president in 1986.

Aquino had a bullet lodged in his neck, one of five that hit him when rebel soldiers attacked the presidential palace in a coup attempt against his mother in 1987.

Unlike Duterte, Aquino has prioritized the Philippines' long-running dispute with China over claims in the South China Sea.

He launched a landmark case before a UN-backed tribunal to challenge Beijing's claims over much of the sea, which ruled in favor of the Philippines.

But Beijing rejected the ruling.

Aquino was left with four sisters.


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