Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino, a 61-year-old single and practicing Catholic, died Thursday, June 24, the foreign ministry and several officials said. The circumstances of the death were not yet known. According to Filipino media reports, Benigno Aquino was rushed to a Manila hospital on Thursday morning.
Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, president from 2010 to 2016, was the son of former president Corazon Aquino and her husband, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, assassinated in 1983 on his return from exile. Both were revered for helping restore democracy to the Philippines in the 1980s after Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
“We offer our condolences to the family and relatives of former President Benigno Simeon“ Noynoy ”Aquino III”said President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque. He praised the work done for the country by the former president.
Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin shared on Twitter the “Sorrow that [lui] inspires the death of a devoted man “. He greeted a man “Courageous during an armed attack, wounded during crossfire, indifferent to power and its traps”, who “Led our country with disconcerting coldness, but only because he hid his feelings so well that we thought he had none”.
Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, a former peace adviser to Benigno Aquino III, shared his “Deep sadness”. “He was an amiable man, animated by his passion to serve our people, diligent in his functions and endowed with an avid and devouring curiosity for the world in general”, said Leonen.
Fight against corruption and economic reforms
During his tenure, Benigno Aquino III, succeeded by the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, led an anti-corruption program and introduced important economic reforms. Unlike the majority of the inhabitants of this Catholic country, he remained celibate all his life, even though he had relationships with women.
This graduate of economics, heavy smoker, was born on February 8, 1960 in a family of rich landowners very well known and committed in politics. He was wounded by gunfire during the attack on the presidential palace in 1987, during an attempted coup against his mother, who became president in 1986 after the fall of Ferdinand Marcos.
Entered late in the presidential race, in 2010, after having been a parliamentarian for twelve years, he declared his candidacy only after the death of his mother, in 2009, promising to get the country out of poverty while fighting Corruption. Initially, he was mocked by his opponents, who saw him as an incompetent and inexperienced candidate who was lucky enough to be born into a powerful family. But over the course of the election campaign, he became a very good orator and gained confidence, being particularly outspoken against Gloria Arroyo, who ruled the Philippines from 2001 to 2010 and whose term was marred by allegations of massive corruption and electoral fraud.
Under the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, the Philippines experienced average economic growth of just over 6% per year, the best performance since the 1970s, but poverty remained endemic.