Corazon Aquino

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Template:Infobox Officeholder María Corazón "Cory" Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) was a Philippine politician who served as the 11th President of the Philippines, the first woman to hold that office, and the first female president in Asia, though not the first female Asian head of state. Aquino was the most prominent figure of the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled the 20-year authoritarian rule of President Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy to the Philippines. She was named Time magazine's "Woman of the Year" in 1986. She had not held any other elective office.

A self-proclaimed "plain housewife",[1] she was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the staunchest critic of President Marcos. She emerged as leader of the opposition after her husband was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon returning to the Philippines from exile in the United States. In late 1985, Marcos called for snap elections, and Aquino ran for president with former senator Salvador Laurel as her Vice-President. After the elections were held on February 7, 1986, the Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Marcos and his running mate, Arturo Tolentino, as the winners amidst allegations of electoral fraud, with Aquino calling for massive civil disobedience actions. Defections from the Armed Forces and the support of the local Catholic Church led to the People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos and secured Aquino's accession on February 25, 1986.

As President, Aquino oversaw the promulgation of the 1987 Constitution, which limited the powers of the Presidency and re-established the bicameral Congress. Her administration gave strong emphasis and concern for civil liberties and human rights, and on peace talks to resolve the ongoing Communist insurgency and Islamist secession movements. Her economic policies centred on restoring economic health and confidence and focused on creating a market-oriented and socially responsible economy.

Aquino faced several coup attempts against her government and various natural calamities until the end of her term in 1992. She was succeeded as President by Fidel V. Ramos, and returned to civilian life while remaining public about her opinions on political issues.

In 2008, Aquino was diagnosed with colon cancer from which she died on August 1, 2009. Her son, Benigno Aquino III, has been President of the Philippines since June 30, 2010. Throughout her life, Aquino was known to be a devout Roman Catholic, and was fluent in French and English besides her native Tagalog and Kapampangan.

Personal life

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Born at 9:45 PM on January 25, 1933, at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Intramuros, Manila,[2] María Corazón "Cory" Sumulong Cojuangco was the fourth child of José Cojuangco, Sr. and Demetria Sumulong. Her siblings were Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, José, Jr. and María Paz. Both Aquino's parents came from prominent clans. Her father was a prominent Tarlac businessman and politician, and her great-grandfather, Melecio Cojuangco, was a member of the historic Malolos Congress. Her mother, Demetria, belonged to the Sumulong family of Rizal who were also politically influential; Juan Sumulong, a prominent member of the clan, ran against Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon in 1941.

As a young girl, Aquino spent her elementary days at St. Scholastica's College in Manila, where she graduated on top of her class and batch as valedictorian. For high school, she transferred to Assumption Convent for her first year of high school. Afterwards, she went to the United States, the Assumption-run Ravenhill Academy Philadelphia . The next year Cory transferred to (and graduated from) Notre Dame Convent School (now Notre Dame School (Manhattan) in New York City.[3] There she continued her college education. She went on to the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York City, where she majored in Mathematics and French. During her stay in the United States, Aquino volunteered for the campaign of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey against then Democratic U.S. President Harry S. Truman during the 1948 U.S. Presidential Election.

After graduating from college, she returned to the Philippines to study law at the Far Eastern University (owned by the in-laws of her elder sister, Josephine Reyes) for one year. She married Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., son of the late Speaker Benigno S. Aquino, Sr. and a grandson of General Servillano Aquino. The couple had five children: María Elena (born August 18, 1955), Aurora Corazón (born December 27, 1957), Benigno Simeon III (born February 8, 1960), Victoria Elisa (born October 27, 1961) and Kristina Bernadette (born February 14, 1971).

Corazón Aquino had difficulty initially adjusting to provincial life when she and her husband moved to Concepcion, Tarlac in 1955. Aquino found herself bored in Concepcion, and welcomed the opportunity to have dinner with her husband inside the American military facility at nearby Clark Field.[4]

A member of the Liberal Party, Aquino's husband Ninoy rose to become the youngest governor in the country and eventually became the youngest senator ever elected to the Senate of the Philippines in 1967. During her husband's political career, Aquino remained a housewife who helped raise their children and played hostess to her spouse's political allies who would frequent their Quezon City home.[5] She would decline to join her husband on stage during campaign rallies, preferring instead to stand at the back of the audience and listen to him.[4]

Unknown to many, she voluntarily sold some of her prized inheritance to fund the candidacy of her husband. She led a modest existence in a bungalow in suburban Quezon City. Ninoy Aquino soon emerged as a leading critic of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos. He was then touted as a strong candidate for president to succeed Marcos in the 1973 elections. However, Marcos, being barred by the Constitution to seek a third term, declared martial law on September 21, 1972, and later abolished the existing 1935 Constitution, thereby allowing him to remain in office. As a consequence, her husband was among those to be first arrested at the onset of martial law, later being sentenced to death. During his incarceration, Ninoy sought strength from prayer, attending daily mass and saying the rosary three times a day. As a measure of sacrifice and solidarity with her husband and all other political prisoners, she enjoined her children from attending parties and she also stopped going to the beauty salon or buying new clothes until a priest advised her and her children to instead live as normal lives as possible.[4]

In 1978, despite her initial opposition, Ninoy decided to run in the 1978 Batasang Pambansa elections. A reluctant speaker, Corazón Aquino campaigned in behalf of her husband, and for the first time in her life delivered a political speech. In 1980, upon the intervention of U.S. President Jimmy Carter,[1] Marcos allowed Senator Aquino and his family to leave for exile in the United States, where he sought medical treatment.[6] The family settled in Boston, and Aquino would later call the next three years as the happiest days of her marriage and family life. On August 21, 1983, however, Ninoy ended his stay in the United States and returned without his family to the Philippines, only to be assassinated on a staircase leading to the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, which was later renamed in his honor (see Assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.). Corazón Aquino returned to the Philippines a few days later and led her husband's funeral procession, in which more than two million people participated.[1]

1986 Presidential campaign

{{#invoke:main|main}} Following her husband's assassination in 1983, Aquino became active and visible in various demonstrations and protests held against the Marcos regime. She began to assume the mantle of leadership left by her husband Ninoy and started to become the symbolic figurehead of the anti-Marcos political opposition. In the last week of November 1985, Marcos surprised the nation by announcing on American television that he would hold a snap presidential election in February 1986, in order to dispel and remove doubts against his regime's legitimacy and authority.[7]

Reluctant at first, Aquino was eventually prevailed upon to heed the people's clamor, after one million signatures urging her to run for president were presented to her. Despite this, the erstwhile favorite opposition candidate, Laurel, did not immediately give way to his close friend's widow. Laurel was only convinced to run as Aquino's Vice President upon the urging of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the politically influential Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila. As a compromise, Aquino agreed to run under Laurel's machinery, the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), then the country's largest opposition party. With that, the Aquino-Laurel tandem was formally launched to challenge Marcos and finally put an end to his twenty-year rule.

In the subsequent political developments and events, Marcos charged that Aquino was being supported by communists and agreed to share power with them once elected into power. A political novice, Aquino categorically denied Marcos' charge and even stated that she would not appoint a single communist to her cabinet.[8] Running on the offensive, the ailing Marcos also accused Aquino of playing "political football" with the United States with respect to the continued United States military presence in the Philippines at Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base.[9] Further, the male strongman derided Aquino's womanhood, by saying that she was "just a woman" whose place was in the bedroom.[1] In response to her opponent's sexist remark, and in reference to the fact that the ailing and feeble Marcos was increasingly seen as being largely a front man for his wife Imelda, Aquino simply remarked that "may the better woman win in this election". Marcos also attacked Aquino's inexperience and warned the country that it would be a disaster if a woman like her with no previous political experience was tb be elected president, to which Aquino cleverly and sarcastically responded, admitting that she had "no experience in cheating, lying to the public, stealing government money, and killing political opponents".

The snap election called by Marcos which was held on February 7, 1986, was marred by massive electoral fraud, violence, intimidation, coercion and disenfranchisement of voters. Election Day proved to be bloody as one of Aquino's staunchest allies, former Antique province Governor Evelio Javier, was brutally murdered, allegedly by some of Marcos' supporters in his province. Further, during the counting and tallying of votes conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), 30 poll computer technicians walked out to dispute and contest the alleged election-rigging being done in favor of Marcos. Despite this, the Batasang Pamabansa, which was dominated by Marcos' ruling party and its allies, declared President Marcos as the winner on February 15, 1986. In protest to the declaration of the Philippine parliament, Aquino called for a rally dubbed "Tagumpay ng Bayan" (People's Victory Rally) the following day, during which she claimed that she was the real winner in the snap election and urged Filipinos to boycott the products and services by companies controlled or owned by Marcos' cronies. The rally held at the historic Rizal Park in Luneta, Manila drew a mammoth-sized crowd, which sent a strong signal that Filipinos were quite tired of Marcos' two decades of rule and the lengths to which he would go to perpetuate it. Further, the dubious election results drew sharp reactions from both local quarters and foreign countries. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement strongly criticizing the conduct of the election which was characterized by violence and fraud. The United States Senate likewise condemned the election.[5][10] Aquino rejected a power-sharing agreement proposed by the American diplomat Philip Habib, who had been sent as an emissary by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to help defuse the tension.[10]

Accession as President

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Corazón Aquino takes the Oath of Office before Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, Sr. in Club Filipino, San Juan on February 25, 1986

On February 22, 1986, disgruntled and reformist military officers led by then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos, surprised the entire nation and the international community when they announced their defection from the Marcos government, citing strong belief that Aquino was the real winner in the contested presidential elections. Enrile, Ramos, and the rebel soldiers then set up operations in Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Camp Crame (headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary) across Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Cardinal Sin appealed to the public in a broadcast over Church-run Radio Veritas, and millions of Filipinos trooped to the part of Epifanio De los Santos Avenue between the two camps to give their support and prayers for the rebels.

At that time, Aquino was meditating in a Carmelite convent in Cebu, and upon learning of the defection, she urged people to rally behind Minister Enrile and General Ramos. Aquino flew back to Manila to prepare for the takeover of the government, and after three days of peaceful mass protests, was sworn in as the eleventh President of the Philippines on February 25, 1986. {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Presidency

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Corazón Aquino during a ceremony honoring United States Air force.

The triumph of the peaceful People Power Revolution and the ascension of Corazón Aquino into power signaled the end of authoritarian rule in the Philippines and the dawning of a new era for Filipinos. The relatively peaceful manner by which Aquino came into power drew international acclaim and admiration not only for her but for the Filipino people, as well. During the first months of Aquino's presidency, the country experienced radical changes and sweeping democratic reforms. One of Aquino's first moves was the creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was tasked to go after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth. Aquino, being a revolutionary president by virtue of people power, abolished the 1973 "Marcos Constitution" and dissolved the Marcos allies-dominated Batasang Pambansa, despite the advice of her vice-president and only prime minister Salvador Laurel. She also immediately created a Constitutional Commission, which she directed for the drafting of a new constitution for the nation.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Constitutional and political reforms

Immediately after assuming the presidency, President Aquino issued Proclamation № 3, which established a revolutionary government. She abolished the 1973 Constitution that was in force during Martial Law, and by decree issued the provisional 1986 Freedom Constitution pending the ratification of a more formal, comprehensive charter. This allowed her to exercise both executive and legislative powers until the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and the restoration of Congress in 1987.[11]

Aquino promulgated two landmark legal codes, namely, the Family Code of 1987, which reformed the civil law on family relations, and the Administrative Code of 1987, which reorganized the structure of the executive branch of government. Another landmark law that was enacted during her tenure was the 1991 Local Government Code, which devolved national government powers to local government units (LGUs). The new Code enhanced the power of LGUs to enact local taxation measures and assured them of a share in the national revenue. Aquino closed down the Marcos-dominated Batasang Pambansa to prevent the new Marcos loyalist opposition from undermining her democratic reforms and reorganized the membership of the Supreme Court to restore its independence.

In May 1986, the reorganized Supreme Court declared the Aquino government as "not merely a de facto government but in fact and law a de jure government", whose legitimacy had been affirmed by the community of nations.[12] This Supreme Court decision affirmed the status of Aquino as the rightful leader of the Philippines. To fast-track the restoration of a full constitutional government and the writing of a new charter, she appointed 48 members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission ("Con-Com"), led by retired activist Supreme Court Associate Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma. The Con-Com completed its final draft in October 1986.[13] On February 2, 1987, the new Constitution of the Philippines, which put strong emphasis on civil liberties, human rights and social justice, was overwhelmingly approved by the Filipino people. The ratification of the new Constitution was followed by the election of senators and congress that same year and the holding of local elections in 1988.

Ministerial Cabinet (1986-1987)[14]

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OFFICE NAME TERM
President Corazón Cojuancgo Aquino February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Vice-President Salvador Laurel February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Prime Minister Salvador Laurel February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Presidential Executive Assistant Joker Arroyo February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Agrarian Reform Jezreel F. Pattaguan February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Agriculture and Food Ramón Mitra, Jr. February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Budget and Management Alberto Rómulo February 26, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Education, Culture and Sports Lourdes Quisimbing February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Finance Jaime Ongpin February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Foreign Affairs Salvador Laurel February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Health Alfredo Bengzon February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Local Government
and Community Development
Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Justice Estelito Mendoza February 25, 1986 – February 28, 1986
Neptali Gonzales February 29, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Labor and Employment Augusto Sánchez February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Natural Resources Ernesto Maceda February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Public Works and Highways Rogaciano M. Mercado February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Minister of Tourism José Antonio Gonzales February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Ministry of Trade and Industry José Concepción February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
Ministry of Transportation and Communications Hernando Pérez February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986

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Presidential Cabinet (1987-1992)[14]

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OFFICE NAME TERM
President Corazón Cojuangco Aquino March 25, 1986 – June 30, 1992
Vice-President Salvador Laurel March 25, 1986 – June 30, 1992
Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo February 25, 1986 – September 15, 1987
Catalino Macaraig, Jr. September 17, 1987 – December 14, 1990
Oscar Orbos December 16, 1990 – July 14, 1991
Franklin Drilon July 15, 1991 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Agrarian Reform Jezreel F. Pattaguan March 25, 1986 – March 30, 1986
Conrado Estrella, Sr. March 30, 1986 – May 1, 1986
Heherson Álvarez May 1, 1986 – March 7, 1987
Philip Juico July 23, 1987 – July 1, 1989
Miriam Defensor Santiago July 20, 1989 – January 4, 1990
Florencio Abad January 4, 1990 – April 5, 1990
Benjamin Leong April 6, 1990 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Agriculture Ramón Mitra, Jr. March 25, 1986 – June 30, 1987
Carlos Domínguez June 30, 1987 – January 1990
Senen Bacani January 1990 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Budget and Management Alberto Rómulo March 25, 1986 – March 13, 1987
Guillermo Carague March 13, 1987 – February 12, 1992
Salvador Enriquez, Jr. February 12, 1992 – December 31, 1993
Secreary of Education, Culture and Sports Lourdes Quisimbing March 25, 1986 – December 1989
Isidro Cariño January 3, 1990 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Ernesto Maceda March 25, 1986 – December 1, 1986
Carlos Domínguez December 2, 1986 – March 9, 1987
Fulgencio S. Factoran March 10, 1987 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Finance Jaime Ongpin March 25, 1986 – September 14, 1987
Vicente Jayme September 15, 1987 – December 31, 1989
Jesús Estanislao January 1, 1990 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Salvador Laurel March 25, 1986 – September 1987
Raúl Manglapus October 1987 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Health Alfredo Bengzon March 25, 1986 – February 7, 1992
Antonio O. Periquet February 10, 1992 – June 30, 1992
Minister of Local Government Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. March 25, 1986 – December 7, 1986
Jaime Ferrer December 8, 1986 – August 2, 1987
Secretary of Local Government Lito Monico C. Lorenzana August 3, 1987 – November 8, 1987
Luis T. Santos November 9, 1987 – December 10, 1991
Secretary of the Interior
and Local Government
César N. Sarino December 11, 1991 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Justice Neptali Gonzales March 25, 1986 – March 1987
Sedfrey A. Ordoñez March 1987 – January 1990
Franklin Drilon January 4, 1990 – July 14, 1991
Silvestre Bello III July 1991 – February 1992
Eduardo Montenegro February 1992 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Labor and Employment Augusto Sánchez March 25, 1986 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile March 25, 1986 – November 23, 1986
Rafael Ileto November 23, 1986 – January 21, 1988
Fidel V. Ramos January 22, 1988 – July 18, 1991
Renato de Villa July 20, 1991 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Public Works and Highways Rogaciano M. Mercado March 25, 1986 – November 1986
Vicente Jayme November 1986 – 1987
Juanito Ferrer 1987 – 1988
Fiorello Estaur 1988 – 1990
José de Jesús 1990 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Social Welfare and Development Mito Pardo de Tavera 1986 – 1992
Secretary of Tourism José Antonio Gonzales March 25, 1986 – April 14, 1989
Narzalina Lim April 14, 1989 – June 7, 1989
in acting capacity
Peter Garrucho June 8, 1989 – January 8, 1991
Rafael Alunan III January 9, 1991 – February 16, 1992
Narzalina Lim February 17, 1992 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Trade and Industry José Concepción March 25, 1986 – January 8, 1991
Peter Garrucho January 9, 1991 – June 30, 1992
Secretary of Transportation and Communications Hernando Pérez March 25, 1986 – March 16, 1987
Rainerio Reyes March 16, 1987 – January 3, 1990
Oscar Orbos January 3, 1990 – December 9, 1990
Arturo Corona December 20, 1990 – May 16, 1991
Pete Nicomedes Prado March 23, 1991 – June 30, 1992
Press Secretary Teodoro Benigno September 6, 1986 – June 14, 1989
Adolfo Azcuna June 16, 1989 – December 31, 1989
Tomas Gómez III January 4, 1990 – February 11, 1992
Horacio Paredes February 12, 1992 – June 30, 1992
Director-General
of the National Economic and Development Authority
Winnie Monsod July 22, 1987 – 1989
Jesús Estanislao 1989 – 1990
Cayetano Paderanga, Jr. 1990 – June 30, 1992
Solicitor General Sedfrey A. Ordoñez 1986 – 1987
Francisco Chavez 1987 – February 6, 1992
Ramón Desuasido February 6, 1992 – June 30, 1992
Chairman
of the Metropolitan Manila Authority
Jejomar Binay 1990 – 1991
Ignacio Bunye 1991 – June 30, 1992

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Socio-economic programs and policies

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Economic management

As soon as she assumed the presidency of the Philippines, Aquino moved quickly to tackle the issue of the US$26 billion foreign debt incurred by her predecessor, which has badly tarnished the international credit standing and economic reputation of the country. After weighing all possible options such as choosing not to pay, Aquino eventually chose to honor all the debts that were previously incurred in order to clear the country's image. Her decision proved to be unpopular but Aquino defended that it was the most practical move. It was crucial for the country at that time to regain the investors' confidence in the Philippine economy. Beginning in 1986, the Aquino administration paid off $4 billion of the country's outstanding debts to regain good international credit ratings and attract the attention of future markets. Nevertheless, the administration borrowed an additional $9 billion, increasing the net national debt by $5 billion within six years after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.[15]

Further, recognizing how crony capitalism weakened the economy due to collusion between government and big business and adhering to the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity, President Aquino set out on a course of market liberalization agenda while at the same time emphasizing solidarity, people empowerment and civic engagement to help alleviate poverty in the country. The Aquino administration also sought to bring back fiscal discipline in order as it aimed to trim down the government's budget deficit that ballooned during Marcos' term through privatization of bad government assets and deregulation of many vital industries. As president, Aquino sought out to dismantle the cartels, monopolies and oligopolies of important industries that were set up by Marcos cronies during the dark days of Martial Law, particularly in the sugar and coconut industries. By discarding these monopolies and allowing market-led prices and competition, small farmers and producers were given a fair chance to sell their produce and products at a more reasonable, competitive and profitable price. This, in a way, also helped a lot in improving the lot of farmers who are in dire need of increasing their personal income and earnings. It was also during Aquino's time that vital economic laws such as the Built-Operate-Transfer Law, Foreign Investments Act and the Consumer Protection and Welfare Act were enacted.

The economy posted a positive growth of 3.4% during her first year in office. But in the aftermath of the 1989 coup attempt by the rightist Reform the Armed Forces Movement, the Philippine economy remained stagnant. In her final year in office, inflation was raging at 17%, and unemployment was slightly over 10%, higher than the Marcos years.[16] Overall, the economy under Aquino had an average growth of 3.8% from 1986 to 1992.[17]

Soon after taking office, Aquino declared that the presence of U.S. military forces in the Philippines was an affront to national sovereignty. She ordered the United States military to vacate U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and Clark Air Base. The United States objected, pointing that they had leased the property and the leases were still in effect. Also, thousands of Filipinos worked at these military facilities and they would lose their jobs and the Filipino economy would suffer if the U.S. military moved out. The United States stated that the facilities at Subic Bay were unequaled anywhere in Southeast Asia and a U.S. pullout could make all of that region of the world vulnerable to an incursion by the Soviet Union or by a resurgent Japan. She refused to back down and insisted that the United States get out. The matter was still being debated when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, covering the entire area with volcanic ash. The destruction to the bases was so severe that the United States decided that it would best to pull out after all, so the bases were closed and the United States departed. {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Agrarian reform

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President Aquino envisioned agrarian and land reform as the centerpiece of her administration's social legislative agenda. However, her family background and social class as a privileged daughter of a wealthy and landed clan became a lightning rod of criticisms against her land reform agenda. On February 22, 1987, three weeks after the resounding ratification of the 1987 Constitution, agrarian workers and farmers marched to the historic Mendiola Street near the Malacañan Palace to demand genuine land reform from Aquino's administration. However, the march turned violent when Marine forces fired at farmers who tried to go beyond the designated demarcation line set by the police. As a result, 12 farmers were killed and 19 were injured in this incident now known as the Mendiola Massacre. This incident led some prominent members of the Aquino Cabinet to resign their government posts.

In response to calls for agrarian reform, President Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation 131 and Executive Order 229 on July 22, 1987, which outlined her land reform program, which included sugar lands. In 1988, with the backing of Aquino, the new Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 6657, more popularly known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law". The law paved the way for the redistribution of agricultural lands to tenant-farmers from landowners, who were paid in exchange by the government through just compensation but were also allowed to retain not more than five hectares of land.[18] However, corporate landowners were also allowed under the law to "voluntarily divest a proportion of their capital stock, equity or participation in favor of their workers or other qualified beneficiaries", in lieu of turning over their land to the government for redistribution.[19] Despite the flaws in the law, the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in 1989, declaring that the implementation of the comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP) provided by the said law, was "a revolutionary kind of expropriation".[20]

Despite the implementation of CARP, Aquino was not spared from the controversies that eventually centered on Hacienda Luisita, a 6,453-hectare estate located in the Province of Tarlac, which she, together with her siblings inherited from her father Jose Cojuangco (Don Pepe).[21]

Critics argued that Aquino bowed to pressure from relatives by allowing stock redistribution under Executive Order 229. Instead of land distribution, Hacienda Luisita reorganized itself into a corporation and distributed stock. As such, ownership of agricultural portions of the hacienda were transferred to the corporation, which in turn, gave its shares of stocks to farmers.[21]

The arrangement remained in force until 2006, when the Department of Agrarian Reform revoked the stock distribution scheme adopted in Hacienda Luisita, and ordered instead the redistribution of a large portion of the property to the tenant-farmers. The Department stepped into the controversy when in 2004, violence erupted over the retrenchment of workers in the Hacienda, eventually leaving seven people dead.[21]

Natural disasters and calamities

During her last two years in office, President Aquino's administration faced series of natural disasters and calamities. Among these were the 1990 Luzon earthquake, which left around 1,600 people dead and the 1991 volcanic eruption of what was then thought to be a dormant Mount Pinatubo, which was the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century,[22] killing around 300 people and causing widespread long-term devastation of agricultural lands in Central Luzon. The worst loss of life occurred when Tropical Storm Thelma (also known as Typhoon Uring) caused massive flooding in Ormoc City in November 1991, leaving around 6,000 dead in what was considered to be the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. It was also during Aquino's term that the MV Doña Paz sank, the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster of the 20th century in terms of loss of lives. The disaster occurred in December 1987 and killed more than 1,700 people.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Electrical power grid inadequacy

During Aquino's presidency, electric blackouts became common in Manila. The capital experienced blackouts lasting 7–12 hours, bringing numerous businesses to a halt. By the departure of Aquino in June 1992, businesses in Manila and nearby provinces had lost nearly $800 million since the preceding March.

Influence in 1992 presidential campaign

President Corazón Aquino addresses base workers at a rally at Remy Field concerning jobs for Filipino workers after the Americans withdraw from the U.S. facilities

As the end of her presidency drew near, close advisers and friends told Aquino that since she was not inaugurated under the 1987 Constitution, she was still eligible to seek the presidency again in the upcoming 1992 elections, the first presidential elections held under normal and peaceful circumstances since 1965. President Aquino strongly declined the requests for her to seek reelection and wanted to set an example to both citizens and politicians that the presidency is not a lifetime position.

Initially, she named Ramon V. Mitra, a friend of her husband Ninoy and then Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives, as her candidate for the presidential race in 1992. However, she later on backtracked and instead threw her support behind the candidacy of her defense secretary and EDSA Revolution hero, General Fidel V. Ramos, who constantly stood by and defended her government from the various coup attempts and rebellions that were launched against her. Her sudden change of mind and withdrawal of support from Mitra drew criticism not only from her supporters in the liberal and social democratic sectors but also from the Roman Catholic Church, which questioned her anointing of Ramos since the latter was a Protestant. Nevertheless, Aquino's candidate eventually won the 1992 elections, albeit with only 23.58% of the total votes in a wide-open campaign, and was sworn in as the 12th President of the Philippines on June 30, 1992.

Post-presidency and continued political activism

Mrs. Aquino speaking before the 2003 Ninoy Aquino Award ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Activities and drives

Political causes

On June 30, 1992, President Aquino formally and peacefully handed over power to her anointed candidate and democratically elected General Fidel Ramos, after six years of hard-fought democratic transition and restoration. After the inauguration of the new President, Aquino chose to leave by riding in a simple white Toyota Crown she had purchased, rather than the lavish government-issued Mercedes Benz which she and Ramos had ridden in on the way to the ceremonies, to make the point that she was once again an ordinary citizen.[23]

After Aquino retired to private life following the end of her term she remained active in the Philippine political scene, constantly voicing opposition and dissent to government actions and policies, which she deemed as threats to the liberal traditions and democratic foundations of the country. In 1997, Aquino, together with Cardinal Jaime Sin, led a huge rally which succeeded in thwarting then President Fidel Ramos' attempt to extend his term by amending the 1987 Constitution's restriction on presidential term limits. In 1998, Aquino endorsed the candidacy of former police general and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim for president. Lim, however, lost to then Vice-President Joseph Estrada, who won by a landslide.[24] The following year, Aquino again with Cardinal Sin successfully opposed President Estrada's plan to amend the Constitution, which he said was intended to lift provisions that 'restrict' economic activities and investments; he denied that it was another ploy for him to extend his stay in office.

In 2000, Aquino joined the mounting calls for Estrada to resign from office, amid strong allegations of bribery charges and gambling kickbacks and a series of corruption scandals, which eventually led to his unsuccessful impeachment in December of that year. In her Preface to Frank-Jürgen Richter and Pamela Mar's book Asia's New Crisis[25] (see Amazon), she decries that the unique Asian way of doing business has given rise to much crony capitalism and opacity in Asia, including the Philippines. In January 2001, during the EDSA Revolution of 2001 which ousted Estrada, Aquino enthusiastically supported the ascendancy of another woman, then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to power.[26]

In 2005, after a series of revelations and exposes alleged and implicated President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in rigging the 2004 presidential elections, Aquino called on Macapagal-Arroyo to resign in order to prevent bloodshed, violence and further political deterioration.[27] Aquino was once again in the streets leading massive demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Arroyo.[28]

In the 2007 senatorial elections, Aquino actively campaigned for the senatorial bid of her only son, Noynoy Aquino, who ran successfully. In December 2008, Corazón Aquino publicly expressed regret for her participation in the EDSA Revolution of 2001, which installed Arroyo into power. She apologized to former President Joseph Estrada for the role she played in his ouster in 2001.[29] For this action, many politicians criticized Aquino.[30] In June 2009, two months before her death, Aquino issued a public statement which strongly denounced and condemned the Arroyo administration's plan of amending the 1987 Constitution, calling such attempt as a "shameless abuse of power."

International engagements

Shortly after leaving the presidency, Aquino traveled abroad, giving speeches and lectures on issues of democracy, development, human rights and women empowerment. In 1997, Aquino attended the wake and funeral of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom she met during the latter's visit in Manila in 1989. In the 2000s (decade), Aquino joined various global leaders and democratic icons in urging the Government of Burma to unconditionally release Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi from detention, whom she delivered a speech on behalf in the 1994 meeting of the UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development in Manila. In 2005, Aquino joined the international community in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II. {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Charitable and social initiatives

Aside from being visible in various political gatherings and demonstrations, Aquino was heavily involved in several charitable activities and socio-economic initiatives. From 1992 until her death, Aquino was chairperson of the Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation which she set up in her husband's honor right after his brutal assassination in 1983. Further, she supported other causes such as the Gawad Kalinga social housing project for the poor and homeless. In 2007, Aquino helped establish the PinoyME Foundation, a non-profit organization which aims to provide microfinancing programs and projects for the poor. She was also a lifelong member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international organization of former and current female heads of state and government.

Illness and death

{{#invoke:main|main}} Template:Sister On March 24, 2008, Aquino's family announced that Corazón had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Upon her being earlier informed by her doctors that she had only three months to live,[31] she pursued medical treatment and chemotherapy. A series of healing masses for the devout Catholic former president were held throughout the country. In a public statement made on May 13, 2008, during a healing mass for her, Aquino said that her blood tests indicated that she was responding well to the medical treatment being administered to her. Aquino's hair and appetite loss were apparent.[32]

By July 2009, Aquino was reported to be in very serious condition, suffering from loss of appetite, and was confined to the Makati Medical Center.[33] Later on, it was announced that Aquino and her family had decided to cease chemotherapy and other medical interventions for her.[34][35]

On August 1, 2009, the 76-year-old Aquino died peacefully at the Makati Medical Center at 3:18 a.m., of cardiorespiratory arrest.[36]

Wake, requiem mass and burial

Upon learning of Aquino's death, incumbent President Macapagal-Arroyo, who was then on a state visit to the United States, announced a 10-day mourning period for the former President and issued Administrative Order No. 269 detailing the necessary arrangements for a state funeral.[37] The Aquino children, however, declined the government offer to hold a state funeral for their mother.[38]

All churches in the Philippines celebrated requiem masses simultaneously throughout the country and all government offices flew the Philippine flag at half mast. Hours after her death on August 1, Aquino's body lay in state for public viewing at the La Salle Green Hills campus in Mandaluyong City. On August 3, 2009, Aquino's remains were transferred from La Salle Greenhills to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, during which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lined the streets to witness and escort their former leader's funeral cortege. On its way to Manila Cathedral, Aquino's funeral cortege passed by Ayala Avenue, Makati City and stopped in front of her husband Ninoy Aquino's statue, amidst throngs of thousands of Filipinos who gathered there and emotionally sang the 1986 EDSA Revolution anthem "Bayan Ko".[39] Aquino's remains were solemnly brought inside Manila Cathedral around mid-afternoon that day. Following her death, all Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the country held requiem masses.[40]

Queue of mourners at the Aquino wake going to Manila Cathedral in front of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila campus, which opened its facilities such as the university clinic and restrooms for the mourners.[41] For comparison, the Cathedral is the green dome in the background.

On August 4, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and Imee Marcos, children of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, paid their last respects to the woman who brought down their father in 1986. The Marcos siblings were received by Aquino's children, Maria Elena, Aurora Corazón and Victoria Eliza.[42] The following day, during mid-dawn, President Macapagal-Arroyo, who cut short her trip in the United States, briefly paid her last respects to President Aquino, who was once her closest ally.

On August 5, a final requiem mass, presided by high-ranking Filipino Catholic Church officials, including Archbishops Gaudencio Rosales and Socrates B. Villegas, was offered. After the Mass, Kris Aquino delivered a speech. Aquino's Philippine flag-draped coffin was escorted from the Manila Cathedral to the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, where she was interred beside her husband Ninoy's resting place. Aquino's funeral procession took more than eight hours before it reached its final destination, as tens of thousands of Filipinos lined up the streets to pay their respects. From Manila's harbor, all ships docked blared their sirens as a sign of respect to Mrs. Aquino.

File:Flags at half-mast at the Bonifacio Shrine.jpg
A Philippine flag at half-mast beside the Martial Law Memorial Wall at the Bonifacio Shrine. All Philippine flags were at half-mast during the 10-day mourning period.

Reaction

Both local and international leaders showed respect for Aquino's achievements in the process of democratization in the Philippines.

Local reaction

Various politicians across the political spectrum expressed their grief and praise for the former Philippine leader. President Arroyo, once an ally of Aquino, remembered the sacrifices she made for the country and called her a "national treasure."[36] Former President Estrada said that the country had lost its mother and guiding voice with her sudden death. He also described Aquino as the "Philippines' most loved woman."[43] Though once bitter political foes, Aquino and Estrada reconciled and joined hands together in opposing President Arroyo.[44]

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Aquino's defense minister and later fierce critic, asked the public to pray for her eternal repose. Although former Aquino interior minister and Senate Minority floor leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., revealed that he had "mixed feelings" about Aquino's death, he also said that the country "shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy".[45]

Ordinary Filipinos throughout the country wore either yellow shirts or held masses for Aquino as their way of paying tribute to the woman who once led them in a revolution that changed the course of their country's history. Yellow Ribbons, which were once used during Aquino's battle with Marcos, were tied along major national roads and streets as a sign of solidarity and support for the now deceased Aquino and her grieving family. In popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Filipinos posted yellow ribbons in their accounts as a tribute to the former Philippine leader. Following her death, Filipino Catholics called on the Church to have Aquino canonized and declared as a saint. During her lifetime, Aquino was known and praised for her strong spirituality and sincere devotion to the Catholic faith. Days after her funeral, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that it supported calls to put the former President on the 500-Peso banknote alongside her husband, Ninoy Aquino.[46]

International reaction

Corazón Aquino's funeral march with the 4 Famous Honor Guards.

Across the globe, messages of sympathy and solidarity with the Filipino people were sent by various heads of state and international leaders. Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to Archbishop Rosales, recalled Aquino's "courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her firm rejection of violence and intolerance" and called her a woman of courage and faith. U.S. President Barack Obama, through White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, said that "her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation". U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed sadness over the passing of Aquino, to whom she had sent a personal letter of best wishes for recovery while she was still in hospital in July 2009. Clinton said that Aquino was "admired by the world for her extraordinary courage" in leading the fight against dictatorship.[47] Meanwhile, South Africa President Jacob Zuma called Aquino "a great leader who set a shining example of peaceful transition to democracy in her country".[48]

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, through the British Ambassador in Manila, sent a message to the Filipino people which read: "I am saddened to hear of the death of Corazón ‘Cory’ Aquino the former President of the Republic of the Philippines". She also added, "I send my sincere condolences to her family and to the people of the Philippines. Signed, Elizabeth R".[49]

Furthermore, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in a telegram to President Arroyo, said that "the name of Corazón Aquino is associated with a period of profound reforms and the democratic transformation of Filipino society". Medvedev also lauded Aquino's sympathy to Russian people and her contribution to the improvement of Russian-Filipino relations.[50]

Moreover, global democratic icons such as Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta and Wan Azizah, wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, came to the Philippines not just to express their sympathies but to attend their friend Aquino's death and funeral, as well.

After her release from imprisonment for almost 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's democratic opposition leader, publicly stated that Aquino is one of her inspirations as she continues to champion the cause of democracy in Myanmar. She has also expressed her good wishes for Aquino's son, incumbent Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III.

Honors

After leaving the presidency, Aquino received several awards and citations. In 1994, Aquino was cited as one of 100 Women Who Shaped World History in a reference book written by Gail Meyer Rolka and published by Bluewood Books in San Francisco, California.[51] In 1996, she received the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding from the Fulbright Association, joining past recipients such as Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela.[52] In August 1999, Aquino was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 20 Most Influential Asians of the 20th century.[53] The same magazine cited her in November 2006 as one of 65 great Asian Heroes, along with Aung San Suu Kyi, Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kuan Yew, Mahatma Gandhi, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej.[54] In 2002, Aquino became the first woman named to the Board of Governors of the Board of the Asian Institute of Management, a leading graduate business school and think tank in the Asia Pacific region.[55] She served on the Board until 2006.[56]

In popular culture

File:New PHP500 Banknote (Obverse).jpg
The "New Generation" 500 peso note featuring the portrait of Corazon Aquino and her husband Benigno Aquino, Jr..
Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino's grave is next to her husband Ninoy Aquino's at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, Philippines

Aquino was portrayed by Laurice Guillen in the 1988 HBO miniseries A Dangerous Life. Aquino was a main character in Boy Noriega's 1987 stage comedy Bongbong at Kris (Bongbong and Kris), about an imagined romantic coupling between the only son of Ferdinand Marcos and the youngest daughter of the Aquinos. In the movie Alfredo Lim: Batas ng Maynila, Aquino was portrayed by Filipino actress Luz Valdez. Aquino was portrayed by Tess Villarama in The Obet Pagdanganan Story (1997) and in Chavit (2003). She was also portrayed by Geraldine Malacaman in the 1998 musical play Lean. In the defunct comedy gag show Ispup, Madz Nicolas played a parodized version of Aquino who often reminisces about life with Ninoy. In 2004, Aquino was portrayed by Irma Adlawan in the miniseries Sa 'Yo Lamang (Only Yours).

In 2008, a musical play about Aquino starring Isay Alvarez as Aquino, was staged at the Meralco Theater. Entitled Cory, the Musical, it was written and directed by Nestor Torre and featured a libretto of 19 original songs composed by Lourdes Pimentel, wife of Senator Aquilino Pimentel.[57][58][59] A two-part special of Maalaala Mo Kaya aired on January 23 and 30, 2010. Actors Bea Alonzo played Corazon Aquino and Piolo Pascual portrayed Ninoy Aquino.

Legacy

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Cory Aquino memorial at General Tinio, Nueva Ecija.

As the guiding light of the People Power Revolution, Corazon Aquino is fondly remembered and deeply revered by Filipinos as the "mother of Philippine democracy", the "housewife who led a revolution" and the "woman who restored democracy". Many also see her both as a hero and a saint. She has also been hailed as a modern-day Joan of Arc by international observers.

Despite the accolades she has received for assuming the mantle of leadership of the democratic struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, Aquino has always stated that it was actually the Filipino people, not her, who restored democracy in the Philippines and maintained that she was only an instrument.

As president, for all the challenges and headaches her administration faced, Aquino will be remembered for bringing back democratic, republican and constitutional rule in the Philippines with the unveiling and ratification of the 1987 Constitution. She also promulgated the New Civil Code of the Philippines and the Family Code of the Philippines. Also, her presidency would be remembered for its emphasis on decentralization of governmental powers by pressing for more involvement of local governments and pushing for autonomy as a means to ward off ethnic secessionism in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao regions.

In terms of economics, despite the setbacks, the Aquino Administration will be best remembered for trying hard to shore up investments in the Philippines, liberalizing and deregulating failing government-owned corporations and entities. Aquino also laid down the foundations for a socially-oriented market economy in the Philippines that would be marked by market reforms and people empowerment.

To preserve and celebrate her legacy, various types of commemorations and memorials in honor of President Aquino were made. Among these are as follow:

  • On February 3, 2010, Grand Prize winner Julian Eymard Paguiligan of Bulacan State University's College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA) made his painting entry entitled Ika-25 ng Pebrero, 1986 presented in the last year's 24th Visual Arts National Competition for the Directories Philippines Corporation's directory cover as a paid tribute. He made a portrait of the late President Aquino in 27.5x34.25" watercolor on paper, as a symbol for her contribution not only for democracy, but also in the successes of the EDSA Revolution in the past.
  • On June 15, 2010, Batasan Hills Elementary School (BHES) in Batasan Hills, Quezon City changed its name to the "President Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School" or (PCCAES).
  • On August 1, 2010, the first anniversary of her death, a 200x250 Photo Mosaic of Aquino was unveiled near the Quirino Grandstand at the Luneta Park, Manila in the presence of her son, President Benigno Aquino III and supporters of the late President. It has been submitted to the Guinness World Records to be certified as the largest photo mosaic in the world.
  • On October 9, 2010, Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim inaugurated on Friday a public market in Baseco, Port Area named after the late President Corazon C. Aquino. The President Corazon C. Aquino Public Market, which lies at the heart of the community, has 77 stalls selling meat, fresh fruits, cooked food, rice, vegetables and a variety of dry goods including condiments, garments, and plastic wares.
  • On December 16, 2010, President Noynoy Aquino and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) announced the release of new 500-peso bill and presented their new design, which features both Ninoy and Cory Aquino.

Awards and achievements

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Honorary doctorates

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Ancestry

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References

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Literature

  • Torild Skard (2014) 'Cory Aquino' "Women of Power - half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide" Bristol: Policy Press ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0-

External links

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