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  • By Mar-Vc Cagurangan

Former Philippine president Aquino passes away

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III

Filipinos mourn the passing of former Philippine president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who died in a Quezon City hospital Thursday. He was 61.

“It is with profound grief that on behalf of our family, I am confirming that our brother Benigno ‘Noynoy’ S. Aquino III died peacefully in his sleep,” the family’s statement announced, as read by his sister, Pinky Aquino-Abellada.

Aquino-Abellada said her brother’s death certificate pronounced his death at 6:30 a.m. He died of renal disease secondary to diabetes.

Aquino III, popularly known as "Pinoy," was the only son of democracy icons former President Cory Aquino and the assassinated opposition leader Benignio Aquino Jr.

He retreated into a quiet private life after the end of his presidency in 2016.

Aquino-Abellada said Noynoy Aquino worked quietly and didn’t want to disappoint the Filipino people “because he knew you were his boss” and "he didn’t want to be given any special treatment.”

“It hurt us, his siblings, that he quietly accepted all criticisms. When we advised him to speak out and fight against the wrong accusations against him, his answer was simple: He can still sleep soundly at night.”

Aquino-Abellada said her brother confronted all allegations and investigations by the Philippine Senate and Philippine Congress with confidence. “Because when you entered public service and serve with honesty and dignity and you know you committed no crime against the people, you wouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth,” Aquino-Abellada quoted her brother as saying.

Aquino’s six-year-term starting in 2010 put an end to the Philippines’ long history of junk-debt status, dispelling the country’s reputation as "the sick man of Asia." During his term, the country's economic growth posted an annual average of 6.0 percent, the highest since the 1970s.

Crafting an image as anti-corruption crusader, Aquino launched a crackdown on tax evaders and built criminal cases against former officials, including his predecessor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, her family and allies

"We commiserate and condole with the family and loved ones of former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III as we extend our condolences on his untimely demise," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday, June 24, during his regular press briefing in Manila.

"We are grateful to the former president for his contribution and services to the country," said Roque.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas said Aquino was rushed to hospital early this morning and passed after efforts to revive failed.

The Manila Times reported that Aquino was brought to the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City early Thursday.

According Rappler, Aquino had been suffering from various illnesses since 2019. He had been undergoing dialysis for at least five months and had recently undergone a heart operation.

Prior to assuming the country's top political post, Aquino III-- nicknamed "Pnoy," had served as a senator for six years and a lawmaker, representing the Tarlac constituency north of Manila from 1998 to 2007.

In 2013, Time named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Retired Supreme Court justice Francis Jardeleza, who was Aquino's solicitor general, said the late president will be remembered for taking regional giant China to international court.

"President Aquino will be remembered for initiating the filing of the arbitration on West Philippine Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration as chief architect of our foreign policy," Rappler quoted Jardeleza as saying.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr., who was Cory Aquino's press secretary, twitted his his "grief over the death of a sea-green incorruptible, brave under attack, wounded in crossfire, indifferent to power and its trappings."

On Guam, Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes issued the following statement:

"I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to the friends and family of President Benigno 'Noynoy' C. Aquino and to the people of the Philippines. By all accounts, President Aquino was a humble man who led the Philippines with integrity and discipline during his tenure.

"As the son of President Cory Aquino, the woman who helped bring democracy back to the Philippines with her unwavering faith in her people, he had a lot to live up to. Through his leadership, he oversaw the country's fastest economic growth since the 1970s, and I truly believe we can learn a lot from his presidency as we work to rebuild our economy. I join the Philippine people in honoring his life and memory," Muna Barnes added.

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