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NEWS UPDATES 1 August 2009

Philippines' ex-president Aquino passes away

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Philippines’ President Gloria Arroyo on Saturday declared a 10-day period of national mourning in honor of former President Corazon Aquino who passed away at the age of 76, state news agency PNA said. Aquino passed away at 3:18 am Saturday morning due to cardio respiratory arrest.

She was battling for colon cancer since March 2008. Last June, she was brought to the Makati Medical Center due to loss of appetite.

Aquino swept away a dictator with a "people power" revolt and then sustained democracy by fighting off seven coup attempts in six years, the Associated Press reported.

The uprising she led in 1986 ended the repressive 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos and inspired nonviolent protests across the globe, including those that ended Communist rule in Eastern Europe.

But she struggled in office to meet high public expectations. Her land redistribution programme fell short of ending economic domination by the landed elite, including her own family. Her leadership, especially in social and economic reform, was often indecisive, leaving many of her closest allies disillusioned by the end of her term.

Still, the bespectacled, smiling woman in her trademark yellow dress remained beloved in the Philippines, where she was affectionately referred to as "Tita (Auntie) Cory."

Aquino's unlikely rise began in 1983 when her husband, opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr, was assassinated on the tarmac of Manila's international airport as he returned from exile in the United States to challenge Marcos, his longtime adversary.

The killing enraged many Filipinos and unleashed a broad-based opposition movement that thrust Aquino into the role of national leader. "I don't know anything about the presidency," she declared in 1985, a year before she agreed to run against Marcos, uniting the fractious opposition, the business community, and later the armed forces to drive the dictator out.

Maria Corazon Cojuangco was born on January 25, 1933, into a wealthy, politically powerful family in Paniqui, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Manila.


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