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Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at 61

Tributes pour in for a former leader best known for his anti-corruption stance and taking on China

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at 61

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino, who waged an anti-corruption agenda and ushered in key economic reforms during his term, has died at the age of 61, officials said on June 24. (Photo: AFP) 

Former Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, has died at age 61 after being hospitalized in Manila earlier this week.

He died on June 24 at the Capitol Medical Center in Manila's Quezon City, the Philippine News Agency reported.

Aquino, the only son of the late senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and the 1986 People Power icon, former president Corazon Aquino, served as the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016.

He was best known for his anti-corruption stance and opposing China by filing a case in the Court of Arbitration at The Hague over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

The court ruled in the Philippines’ favor a month after Aquino left office in 2016.

The official cause of his death has not yet been revealed but he was believed to have been suffering from kidney failure and diabetes.

Tributes to Aquino, who was commonly known as Noynoy, have poured in from across the archipelago.

Catholics extended their condolences and prayers for the former president who fought corruption and poverty during his term.

“In 2010, I joined the Youth Volunteers for his campaign. We toured the whole country rallying for change … encouraging citizen activism. Eleven years later, eyes a little wider, the idealism and hope for a better country still burns,” lawyer Michelle Lapuz told UCA News.

Former education secretary and De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro asked Catholics to pray for Aquino’s eternal repose.

“In your charity, please pray for the eternal repose of President Benigno Aquino III who passed away this morning. May he rest now in God’s peace. May God have mercy on the Philippines,” Brother Luistro said in a text message to UCA News.

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Tributes to Aquino, who was commonly known as Noynoy, have poured in from across the archipelago.

“In August of 2010, my husband [former education undersecretary Francis Varela] left the private sector to fulfill a lifelong dream to serve the country. And it was also because it was an honor for him to serve under the presidency of someone he had so much respect for. May you rest in peace, President Noynoy,” the wife of a former Aquino ally wrote in social media.

Mike Tiu, a law professor at the University of the Philippines, said Aquino’s presidency was a time of democracy when free speech was honored as a guaranteed constitutional right.

“I never had to take a beat before I spoke my mind on public issues. I didn’t worry about the repercussions when airing my views. I miss that,” lawyer Mike Tiu told UCA News.

Clergymen thanked Aquino for the dedication he showed in public office during his term as president.

Cagayan priest Father Ranhilio Aquin said the former president’s intention was to serve the country to the best of his ability.

“I did not agree with President Noynoy Aquino on so many things but I am also sure that he wanted the best for the country,” Father Aquino said.

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