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Former Philippine President Noynoy Aquino dies

Prime Minister Trudeau & President Aquino at the APEC Summit in Manila, November 2015

Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, the Philippines’ 15th president, who led the country under the “Daang Matuwid” reform agenda from 2010 to 2016, died early Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Aquino, 61, “died peacefully in his sleep” of renal disease, secondary to diabetes, his older sister Aurora “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada said on behalf of the family. “Mission accomplished, Noy, be happy now with Dad and Mom.” She added that her brother had been in and out of the hospital in recent years.

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III & Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 2015
Governor General David Johnston with President Aquino, Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux and Manitoba Minister Flor Marcelino at the Rideau Hall, Ottawa, May 7, 2015
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III & Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North, May 2015

Noynoy, as Aquino was fondly called, was born February 8, 1960. The third of five children, he was the only son of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino. He has four sisters: Maria Elena (Ballsy), Aurora Corazon (Pinky), Victoria Elisa (Viel) and Kristina Bernadette (Kris).

He studied at Ateneo de Manila University for his grade school, high school, and college education. He finished his Bachelor of Arts (major in economics) degree from Ateneo in 1981.

In 1998, he was elected to the House of Representatives as congressman of the second district of Tarlac. He was re-elected twice, in 2001 and in 2004.

Aquino was elected senator in 2007. In 2010, as the Liberal Party’s standard bearer, he was elected president.

Under his watch, the Philippines experienced an economic boom, transforming from “Sick Man of Asia” into “Asia’s new darling.”

The country registered an average growth of 6.2 per cent amid robust foreign investments, stable credit ratings and tourism growth.

Among the highlights of his administration were the signing of the landmark peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as intensified anti-corruption efforts, bringing to jail those involved in the “pork barrel” scam.

The country also scored a landmark arbitration award in the South China Sea dispute with China during Aquino’s term. Time magazine named him as one of 100 most influential people in the world in 2013, praising him for stabilizing a sputtering economy and for bravely confronting China over the South China Sea disputes.

One of his first orders that lingered throughout his presidency was to ban the use of sirens (colloquially called wang-wang by Filipinos) in vehicles that carried VIPs through Manila’s notorious traffic jams.

Despite these accomplishments, he encountered major crises and controversies. Early in his term, several Hong Kong tourists were killed in a bus hostage-taking incident in Manila in August 2010.

He was accused of acting slowly in providing rehabilitation and relief for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. As the nation’s commander-in-chief, he was blamed for the bungled police operation that led to the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.

After leaving Malacañang, he stayed away from politics. Unmarried, he returned to the family home on Times Street in Quezon City.

Aquino’s remains were cremated on Thursday. The urn containing his ashes was buried Saturday in Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City, placed next to the tombs of his parents, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, and former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

Thousands of people queued for his funeral mass and burial.

The military gave a 21-gun salute and a helicopter rained down yellow flowers, the colour associated with the Aquino family and the 1986 revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos.