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|11th President of the Philippines|
25 February 1986 - 30 June 1992
|Salvador Laurel (25 February 1986 - 25 March 1986)|
Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco
25 January 1933
Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippine Islands
|Died||1 August 2009 (aged 76)|
Makati City, Philippines
|Resting place||Manila Memorial Park, Parañaque City, Philippines|
|United Nationalist Democratic Organization (1980-1987)|
|Children||5, including Benigno and Kris|
|Parents||Jose Cojuangco (father)|
Demetria Sumulong (mother)
|Relatives||Josephine C. Reyes (sister)|
Jose Cojuangco Jr. (brother)
|Alma mater||College of Mount Saint Vincent (BA)|
Far Eastern University
Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (born Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco; 25 January 1933 - 1 August 2009) was a Filipino politician who served as the 11th President of the Philippines, becoming the first woman to hold that office. Corazon Aquino was the most prominent figure of the 1986 People Power Revolution, which ended the 20-year rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. She was named Time magazine's Woman of the Year in 1986. Prior to this, she had not held any elective office.
A self-proclaimed "plain housewife", 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 21 August 1983 upon returning to the Philippines from exile in the United States. In late 1985, Marcos called for a snap election, and Aquino ran for president with former senator Salvador Laurel as her running mate for vice president. After the election held on 7 February 1986, the Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Marcos and his running mate Arturo Tolentino as the winners; allegations were made of electoral fraud, with Aquino calling for massive civil disobedience actions. Defections from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the support of the local Catholic hierarchy led to the People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos and secured Aquino's accession on 25 February 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 provided strong emphasis on 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 centered on restoring economic health and confidence and focused on creating a market-oriented and socially responsible economy. In 1987, she became the first Filipino to be bestowed with the prestigious Prize For Freedom Award.
Several coup attempts were made against Aquino's government; it also faced various natural calamities until the end of her term in 1992. She was succeeded as President by Fidel Ramos, and returned to civilian life while remaining public about her opinions on political issues. In recognition for her role in the world's most peaceful revolution to attain democracy, she was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1998.
Aquino was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008; she died on 1 August 2009. Her monuments of peace and democracy were established in the capital Manila and her home province of Tarlac after her death. Her son Benigno Aquino III became President of the Philippines from 30 June 2010 to 30 June 2016. Throughout her life, Aquino was known to be a devout Roman Catholic, and was fluent in French, Japanese, Spanish, and English aside from her native Tagalog and Kapampangan. She is highly regarded by the international diplomatic community as the Mother of Democracy.
Aquino was born Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco on 25 January 1933 in Paniqui, Tarlac, and was the sixth (of whom two died in infancy) of eight children of José Cojuangco, a former congressman, and Demetria Sumulong, a pharmacist. Her siblings were Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Jose Jr. and Maria Paz. Both Aquino's parents came from prominent clans. Her father was a prominent Tarlac businessman and politician, and her grandfather, Melecio Cojuangco, was a member of the historic Malolos Congress. Her mother belonged to the Sumulong family of Rizal province 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 school days at St. Scholastica's College in Manila, where she graduated on top of her class as valedictorian. She transferred to Assumption Convent to pursue high school studies. Afterwards, her family went to the United States and she attended the Assumption-run Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia. In 1949, she graduated from Notre Dame Convent School in New York. She then pursued her college education in the U.S. graduating from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in 1953 in New York, with a major in French and minor in mathematics. 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 and studied law at Far Eastern University in 1953. She later met Benigno "Ninoy" S. Aquino Jr.--son of the late Speaker Benigno S. Aquino Sr. and a grandson of General Servillano Aquino. She discontinued her law education and married Ninoy in Our Lady of Sorrows church in Pasay on 11 October 1954. The couple raised five children: Maria Elena ("Ballsy"; born 1954), Aurora Corazon ("Pinky"; born 1957), Benigno Simeon III ("Noynoy"; born 1960), Victoria Elisa ("Viel"; born 1961) and Kristina Bernadette ("Kris"; born 1971).
Aquino had initially had difficulty 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.
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. 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. 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.
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 21 September 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.
In 1978, despite her initial opposition, Aquino decided to run in the 1978 Batasang Pambansa elections. A reluctant speaker, Corazon Aquino campaigned on 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, Marcos allowed Senator Aquino and his family to leave for exile in the United States, where he sought medical treatment. 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 21 August 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 (now Ninoy Aquino International Airport or NAIA), which was later renamed in his honor (see Assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr.). Corazon Aquino returned to the Philippines a few days later and led her husband's funeral procession, in which more than two million people participated.
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.
Initially reluctant, 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, United Opposition (UNIDO) leader Salvador Laurel, did not immediately give way to his close friend's widow. Laurel only gave way to Cory after a political deal which was later reneged on by Cory after the election. According to Salvador Laurel's diary, Cory offered to Laurel that he would be her Prime Minister, she would step down in two years, he would name 30 percent of the Cabinet, and that she would appoint the remaining 70 percent after close consultations with him. As an example of the deal recorded by Laurel later being reneged upon, after Aquino succeeded as President, the office of Prime Minister abolished by the new Constitution in October 1986.Salvador Laurel eventually ran as Cory Aquino's running mate for Vice President under the United Opposition (UNIDO) party. With that, the Aquino-Laurel tandem was formally launched to challenge Marcos and finally put an end to his two-decade rule.
In the subsequent political developments and events, given Ninoy's links with the communists, 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. 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. Furthermore, the male strongman derided Aquino's womanhood, by saying that she was "just a woman" whose place was in the bedroom. 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 to 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 7 February 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. Furthermore, 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. However, not known to many, the walkout of computer technicians was led by Linda Kapunan, wife of Lt Col Eduardo Kapunan, a leader of Reform the Armed Forces Movement, which plotted to attack the Malacañang Palace and kill Marcos and his family, leading some to believe that the walkout could have been planned with ulterior motives. Despite this, the Batasang Pamabansa, which was dominated by Marcos' ruling party and its allies, declared President Marcos as the winner on 15 February 1986. However, NAMFREL's count showed that Corazon Aquino won. 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 according to NAMFREL's count 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. 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. On 25 February 1986, supporters of Aquino and Marcos celebrated the inauguration of their supported President. This was the same day that Ferdinand E. Marcos fled the country.
On 22 February 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 election. 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 25 February 1986.
The triumph of the peaceful People Power Revolution and the ascension of Corazon 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.
She was the first female president of the country and the only president with no political background. She is also regarded as the first female president in Asia. 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.
|Presidential styles of|
Corazon C. Aquino
|Reference style||Her Excellency|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
|Alternative style||Madam President|
Immediately after assuming the presidency, President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 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.
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. 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. On 2 February 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.
|Gross Domestic Product (constant 1985 prices)|
|1986||Php 591,423 million|
|1991||Php 716,522 million|
|Growth rate, 1986-91||3.5%|
|Per capita income (constant 1985 prices)|
|1986||Php 160,571 million|
|1991||Php 231,515 million|
|1 US US$ = Php 27.61|
1 Php = US US$0.04
|Sources: Philippine Presidency Project|
Malaya, Jonathan; Eduardo Malaya. So Help Us God... The Inaugurals of the Presidents of the Philippines. Anvil Publishing, Inc.
As soon as she assumed the presidency of the Philippines, Aquino moved quickly to tackle the issue of the US$28 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. Although it 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, due to the need to infuse capital and money into the economy, the Aquino administration succeeded in wrangling lower interest rates and longer payment terms in settling the country's debts. From 87.9 percent when it inherited the foreign debt from the Marcos regime, the Cory Aquino administration was able to reduce by 30.1 percent the Philippines' external debt-to-GDP ratio to 67.8 percent in 1991.
Furthermore, 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, international confidence in the Philippine economy was seriously damaged. During her presidency, Aquino made fighting inflation one of her priorities, after reeling from skyrocketing prices during the Martial Law years, in which at one point inflation reached 50.3 percent in 1984. Although inflation peaked at 18.1 percent during the 1991 Gulf War, which caused panic among Filipinos who have many family members working in the Middle East, inflation during Aquino's time averaged 9.6 percent from 1986 to 1992, which was way lower than the average 20.9 percent-inflation rate that was recorded during the last 6 years of the Marcos dictatorship. Overall, the economy under Aquino had an average growth of 3.8% from 1986 to 1992.
Soon after taking office, several Senators declared that the presence of U.S. military forces in the Philippines was an affront to national sovereignty. Even though Aquino personally felt that they should remain, certain members of the Senate called for 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. The Senate refused to back down and insisted that the United States get out even though Aquino herself led a protest against a pullout. The protest gathered between 100,000 and 150,000 supporters, far short of the 500,000 to 1 million that had been originally expected. The matter was still being debated when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, covering the entire area with volcanic ash. Despite all attempts to continue the Subic Base, Aquino could not get around the Senate's decision. She had to formally concede to it, and in December 1991 the government served notice that the U.S. must close the base by the end of 1992.
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 22 February 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, at least 12 were killed and 51 protesters 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 22 July 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. 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. 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".
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).
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.
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.
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, killing around 300 people and causing widespread long-term devastation of agricultural lands in Central Luzon. On 1 November 1991 Tropical Storm Thelma (also known as Typhoon Uring) caused massive flooding in Ormoc City, leaving around 5,000 dead in what was then considered to be the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. On 8 November, Aquino declared all of Leyte a disaster area. On 20 December 1987, the MV Doña Paz sank which Time and others have dubbed as "the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster of the 20th century", given the death toll which were initially estimated to be around 1,500 which later grew for at least 3,000, and finally exceeded about 4,300. Aquino described the aftermath as "a national tragedy of harrowing proportions...[the Filipino people's] sadness is all the more painful because the tragedy struck with the approach of Christmas".
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.
Corazon Aquino's decision to mothball the Bataan Nuclear Plant built during the Marcos administration contributed to the power crisis in the 1990s, as the 620 megawatts capacity of the plant was enough to cover the shortfall at that time.
When 15 farmers staging a peaceful rally in Mendiola were gunned down by the military under Aquino on 22 January 1987 during the Mendiola Massacre, Jose Diokno, head of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights and chairman of the government panel in charge of negotiations with rebel forces resigned from his two government posts in deep disgust and great sadness. His daughter Maris said, "It was the only time we saw him near tears."
In September 1987, Vice President Doy Laurel resigned as Cory's Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In his letter to Cory, he said: "the past years of Marcos are now beginning to look no worse than your first two years in office. And the reported controversies and scandals involving your closest relatives have become the object of our people's outrage. From 16,500 NPA regular when Marcos fell, the communists now claim an armed strength of 25,200. From city to countryside, anarchy has spread. There is anarchy within the government, anarchy within the ruling coalesced parties, and anarchy in the streets."
Corazon Aquino's Finance Minister, Jaime Ongpin, who successfully advocated against not paying debt incurred during Marcos' administration, was later dismissed by Cory Aquino and later died in an apparent suicide in December 1987 after "he had been depressed about infighting in Aquino's cabinet and disappointed that the 'People Power' uprising which had toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos had not brought significant change".
In part due to Marcos' excesses, the framers of the 1987 Constitution limited the president to a single six-year term, with no possibility of re-election. 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. However, Aquino strongly declined the requests for her to seek reelection and wanted to set an example to both citizens and politicians that the presidency was 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 30 June 1992.
On 30 June 1992, President Aquino formally and peacefully handed over power to 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.
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. 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, 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 Second EDSA Revolution which ousted Estrada, Aquino enthusiastically supported the ascendancy of another woman, then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to power. Estrada was acquitted of perjury but found guilty of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth on 12 September 2007 and pardoned by Macapagal-Arroyo on 26 October 2007.
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. Aquino was once again in the streets leading massive demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Arroyo.
In the 2007 senatorial elections, Aquino actively campaigned for the senatorial bid of her only son, Noynoy Aquino, who ran successfully. In December 2008, Corazon 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. For this action, many politicians criticized Aquino. 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."
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 Saint 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.
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. She also studied painting, and would occasionally give away her paintings to friends and family. In some events, Aquino auctioned her painting and gave all of the money to charity. She never sold her art for her own profit.
On 24 March 2008, Aquino's family announced that the former President had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Upon her being earlier informed by her doctors that she had only three months to live, she pursued medical treatment and chemotherapy. A series of healing Masses for Aquino (a devout Catholic) were held throughout the country intended for her recovery. In a public statement during one healing Mass on 13 May 2008, Aquino said that her blood tests indicated that she was responding well to treatment; her hair and appetite loss were apparent.
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. It was later announced that Aquino and her family had decided to stop chemotherapy and other medical interventions for her.
Upon learning of Aquino's death, then incumbent President Gloria 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. Aquino's children, however, declined the government's offer of a state funeral for their mother.
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, Aquino's body lay in repose for public viewing at the La Salle Green Hills campus in Mandaluyong City. On 3 August 2009, Aquino's body was transferred from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, during which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lined the streets to view and escort the former leader's body. On the way to the Cathedral, Aquino's funeral cortege passed along Ayala Avenue in Makati, stopping in front of the monument to her husband Ninoy, where throngs of mourners gathered and sang the patriotic protest anthem "Bayan Ko". Aquino's casket was solemnly brought inside the Cathedral by mid-afternoon that day. Following her death, all Roman Catholic dioceses in the country held requiem Masses.
On 4 August 2009, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., and Imee Marcos--children of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos--paid their last respects to Aquino despite the two families' fierce political rivalry; the Aquinos have been blaming the late dictator for the assassination of Ninoy Aquino Jr. in 1983. The Marcos siblings were received by Aquino's daughters María Elena, Aurora Corazon, and Victoria Elisa. Early the next day, President Arroyo, who had cut short her trip in the United States, briefly paid her last respects to her erstwhile ally President Aquino.
A final requiem Mass was held on the morning of 5 August 2009, with then-Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, then-Bishop of Balanga Socrates B. Villegas, and other high-ranking clergymen concelebrating. Aquino's daughter Kris spoke on behalf of her family towards the end of the Mass. Aquino's flag-draped casket was escorted from the Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, where she was interred beside her husband in the family mausoleum. Aquino's funeral procession took more than eight hours to reach the burial site, as tens of thousands of civilians lined the route to pay their respects. Philippine Air Force UH-1 helicopters showered the procession with yellow confetti and ships docked at Manila's harbour blared their sirens, all to salute the late President, .
Both local and international leaders showed respect for Aquino's achievements in the process of democratization in the Philippines.
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." 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." Although once bitter political foes, Aquino and Estrada reconciled and joined hands together in opposing President Arroyo.
Former 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".
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.
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 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. Meanwhile, South African President Jacob Zuma called Aquino "a great leader who set a shining example of peaceful transition to democracy in her country".
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 Corazon '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".
Furthermore, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in a telegram to President Arroyo, said that "the name of Corazon 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.
Moreover, global democratic icons such as Timor-Leste President José 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, then incumbent Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III.
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. 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. In August 1999, Aquino was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 20 Most Influential Asians of the 20th century. 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. 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. She served on the Board until 2006.
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 sketch comedy show Ispup, Madz Nicolas played a parodic depiction 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. A two-part special of Maalaala Mo Kaya aired on 23 and 30 January 2010, with Bea Alonzo playing the role of Corazon Aquino and Piolo Pascual as Ninoy Aquino. Jodi Sta. Maria appeared in the special as Kris Aquino.
In 2013, the exhibit, A Gift of Self, was showcased in commemoration of Aquino's 4th death anniversary. The exhibit featured 30 of Aquino's paintings, all exuding her signature bold strokes and floral motifs which she based on her memory of the revolution and her love for haiku.
As the guiding light of the People Power Revolution, Corazon Aquino is fondly remembered and deeply revered by most Filipinos as the "mother of Philippine democracy", and the "housewife who led a revolution". She has been hailed by American columnist Georgie Anne Geyer as a modern-day Joan of Arc.
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.
To preserve and celebrate her legacy, various types of commemorations and memorials in honor of President Aquino were made. Among these are as follow:
President Corazon Aquino ended her term in 1992 with the country reeling under severe power shortage crisis. It was the offshoot of her administration's failure to provide replacement for the more than 600-MW of electricity foregone with the government's decision to mothball the Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP).
|Ancestors of Corazon Aquino|