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Benigno Aquino: Former Philippine president died ‘peacefully in his sleep’ at 61

·2-min read
File Philippine President Benigno Aquino at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila 2 July, 2012 (REUTERS)
File Philippine President Benigno Aquino at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila 2 July, 2012 (REUTERS)

The former president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino II, who was the only son of pro-democracy icon Corazon Aquino, has died at the age of 61 on Thursday.

The Aquino family confirmed the death in a press conference, saying the former president died peacefully in his sleep in the morning hours of 24 June.

Aquino, who is survived by four sisters, died of renal disease as a result of diabetes, confirmed his sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada in a statement at the Heritage Park in Taguig, Manila .

“It is with profound grief that on behalf of our family, I am confirming that our brother, Benigno Noynoy Aquino III died peacefully in his sleep. His death certificate pronounced his death at 6.30 am due to renal disease secondary to diabetes,” she said

The former president was better known as Noynoy, a nickname he earned from his father’s moniker Ninoy.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who also ran under the then Aquino-led ruling party when elected in 2016, said the news of his death is "heartbreaking.".

"He tried to do what was right, even when it was not popular," she said in a statement. "He worked quietly and tirelessly for the good of everyone. He will be missed."

Pinky Aquino-Abellada (C) gestures after reading the family statement on the death of their brother former president Benigno Aquino, at a memorial park in Manila (AFP via Getty Images)
Pinky Aquino-Abellada (C) gestures after reading the family statement on the death of their brother former president Benigno Aquino, at a memorial park in Manila (AFP via Getty Images)

The 61-year-old was in power from 2010 to 2016 after a landslide victory. He took charge at a time when the country was struggling with corruption, poverty and ageing infrastructure.

Aquino was heir to a political legacy of the parents, the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr and former president Corazon Aquino, regarded as a bulwark against authoritarianism in the Philippines.

His father Ninoy Aquino’s dramatic assassination in 1986 shook the country, prompting a pro-democracy movement. He was returning from the US, where he was in exile after escaping martial law of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, when he was assassinated under military custody at the Manila international airport.

His mother, Corazon Aquino, led the 1986 “people power” revolt that ousted Marcos. The army-backed uprising became a harbinger of popular revolts against authoritarian regimes worldwide.

She survived several coup attempts but in one of the attempts her young son was severely wounded in a shoot-out at the presidential Malacanang Palace in 1987. While he survived, a bullet remained embedded in his neck for the rest of his life as it was too dangerous to remove.

Born in 1960 as the third of five children, Aquino never married and had no children. An economics graduate, Aquino engaged in businesses before entering politics.

Additional reporting by agencies

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