Home International Cory Aquino dies, Philippines declares 10-day mourning

Cory Aquino dies, Philippines declares 10-day mourning


Manila : Philippine democracy icon and former president Corazon Aquino, who led a “people power” revolt that toppled one of the world’s most corrupt dictators, died Saturday after battling colon cancer for more than a year, her family said. She was 76.

Cory, as people fondly called her, had been hospitalised in the Makati Medical Centre in Manila since late June after her health deteriorated and the cancer spread to other parts of her body.

“Our mother peacefully passed away at 3.18 a.m. Aug 1, 2009, of cardio-respiratory arrest,” Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said.

“She would have wanted us to thank each and everyone of you for all the prayers and your continued love and support,” he added. “It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for our country.”

In her death, former president Aquino was hailed for her role in toppling the 20-year dictatorship of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos during the four-day “people power” revolution in February 1986.

“Today, the Philippines lost a national treasure,” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said in a statement released from Washington where she was on an official visit.

“Cory Aquino helped lead a revolution that restored democracy and the rule of law to our country at a time of great peril,” she added. “I am announcing today that we will officially observe a 10-day period of national mourning.”

Flags in the Philippines were flown at half-mast following Aquino’s death, while people left flowers outside her home in the Manila suburban city of Quezon and the military performed a gun salute in honour of the late president.

Yellow ribbons adorned street lamps, gates, cars and buildings all over the Philippines to commemorate the colour that symbolised Aquino’s fight against Marcos.

Aquino, the first female president of the Philippines, led the country from 1986 to 1992. She put into place a new constitution that limited the terms of presidents to a single six-year term and survived seven coup attempts as she steered the country.

She was born Jan 25, 1933 as the sixth of eight children of a landed family in the northern Philippine province of Tarlac. She was married to the former opposition senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, whose assassination in 1983 galvanised the opposition against Marcos.

While she had a law degree, Cory was a full-time housewife and mother of five children, all of whom were at her bedside when she died.

“Her kids were praying the rosary when she peacefully passed away,” close family friend Boy Abunda told reporters outside the hospital. “They were praying the Sorrowful Mystery when she breathed her last. Everyone quietly cried.”

Former president Fidel Ramos, who succeeded Aquino, said he believed that not only the Filipinos but the entire world was grieving for his predecessor’s death.

“Cory Aquino represented the best of the Filipino, the past and the future,” he said.

Ousted president Joseph Estrada, who was removed from office by a mass uprising that Aquino supported, said her guidance would be missed by Filipinos.

“Today, our country has lost a mother,” he said. “We wish she could have lived longer because we need her especially now that our constitution is being threatened anew. Now, we must honour her by pursuing the principles she portrayed and fighting for our democracy as she did.”