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Philippines: Former President Benigno Aquino dies at the age of 61

Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino has died of kidney failure after being hospitalized in Manila.

Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino died on Thursday in a Manila hospital of kidney failure caused by diabetes, according to his family.

Aquino was in office from 2010 to 2016. He was the only son of two of the Philippines’ most respected democrats.

“It is with deep sadness that I confirm on behalf of our family that our brother Benigno Noynoy III passed away peacefully in his sleep,” the family said in a statement read by one of his four surviving sisters, Pinche Aquino Abellada.

“His death certificate declared him dead at 6:30am due to kidney ailment as a result of diabetes.”

The Presidency expressed condolences to Aquino’s family.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who ran in 2016 under the then Aquino-led ruling party, said the news of the former president’s death was “heartbreaking”.

“He tried to do the right thing even though he was unpopular,” she said.

“He worked quietly and tirelessly for the good of all. We will miss him.”

Foreign Minister Theodore Locsin expressed his sadness on Twitter.

He said the former president “was brave under armed attack, wounded in crossfire, indifferent to power and its trappings, governed our country with bewildering indifference, but only because he hid his feelings so well that people thought he had none.”

A former peace adviser to Aquino, Supreme Court Justice Malvik Leonen, also issued a statement.

“I was saddened to learn of the death of former President Benigno Aquino this morning,” he said. It was an honor to work with him. He will miss.

Flags fly at half-mast outside the Senate building in Manila.

Who was Aquino?

Aquino was popularly called “Noynoy”, the only son of the late former President Corazon Aquino and her assassinated husband, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who are credited with leading the fight to restore democracy in the island nation.

In 1983, “Ninoy” Aquino shot dead by the military at Manila airport as he returned from exile in the US to lead a pro-democracy movement against Dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The assassination triggered the non-violent “People Power” movement in the Philippines that overthrew Marcos.

Corazon led this revolution and replaced Marcos as president in 1986.

In 1987, insurgent soldiers stormed the presidential palace in a failed coup attempt against them. Five bullets hit Benigno Aquino.

After the death of Aquino’s mother in 2009, he came to power with broad public support. He ran on an anti-corruption platform and introduced economic reforms during his term.

Aquino also known for bringing the landmark arbitration case against China over the disputed South China Sea.

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