Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III died Thursday (June 24) at the age of 61, according to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and several government officials.
AFP reports that the circumstances of Aquino’s death are not yet clear. According to Philippine media, Aquino III was rushed to a hospital in Manila on Thursday morning. There are also reports that Aquino has been suffering from multiple illnesses since 2019. He has been on dialysis for at least five months and recently underwent a heart surgery.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque expressed his condolences to the family and loved ones of former President Aquino III, “while praising the former president for his work for the country. “
Aquino III served as president from 2010 to 2016. He was born on Feb. 8, 1960, into a prominent and politically active family of wealthy landowners, the son of former President Mrs. Corazon Aquino and her husband, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, both revered for promoting the restoration of democracy in the Philippines in the 1980s after the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who was assassinated in 1983 upon his return from exile. Mrs. Aquino, for her part, became president in 1986 after the fall of Marcos, and in 1987, during an attempted coup against his mother, Aquino III was wounded by gunfire during an attack on the presidential palace.
He served 12 years as a congressman before announcing his entry into the presidential race in 2010 after the death of his mother in 2009, promising to lift the country out of poverty while fighting corruption. At first he was derided by his opponents as an incompetent, inexperienced candidate who was only lucky to have been born into a powerful family. But as the election campaign progressed, he became a very good speaker and gained confidence, especially in response to the fierce opposition to Arroyo, who led the Philippines from 2001 to 2010 and whose tenure was marred by allegations of massive corruption and election fraud.
AFP reported that during Aquino III’s presidency, the Philippines averaged slightly more than 6 percent annual economic growth, its best performance since the 1970s, but poverty remained widespread.
Aquino III is a practicing Catholic but is unmarried for life.