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April 23, 2024
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Ex-Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at age of 61

Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has died after a prolonged illness, according to several news reports.

News reports say Aquino had been undergoing dialysis for at least five months and had recently undergone heart surgery. According to ABS-CBN News, he was hospitalised earlier in the day on Thursday.

Aquino, 61, served as the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016 and was succeeded in office by the incumbent, Rodrigo Duterte.

His family has yet to issue an official statement but his former spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters in Manila a statement is forthcoming on Thursday.

‘Profound sadness’

“It is with profound sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III,” Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, who was appointed by Aquino in 2012, said in a statement.

“I knew him to be a kind man, driven by his passion to serve our people. I saw him carry his title with dignity and integrity,” added Leonen, who had also served as Aquino’s peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said the nation is “grateful for the former President for his contribution and services to the country.”

Vice President Leni Robredo, who is an ally of Aquino, said in a statement that she is “heartbroken” to hear the news of the former president’s passing.

“He was a good friend and an honest president. He tried to do what was right, even when it was not popular,” she said.

Cardinal Jose Advincula, who was installed as the new archbishop of Manila on Thursday, also paid tribute to Aquino.

“Let us entrust him in the mercy of our loving Father. And let us now pray for the eternal repose for his soul,” he said, before observing a moment of silence for the former president during his inaugural mass. Aquino had clashed with the Catholic church on the issue of women’s reproductive health and the use of contraceptives, which the powerful church opposes.

In a statement, the European Union office in Manila said, “We mourn a friend who pushed for deepening of our relations.”

The German Embassy in Manila also issued a separate statement hailing Aquino for his role in “intensifying” ties between the Philippines and Germany during his term.

Chargé d’Affaires John Law of the US Embassy in Manila extended his condolences to Aquino’s family, adding that his government “will always be thankful for our partnership”.

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