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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cory Aquino, Philippine democracy icon, dies at 76 (Updated)

MANILA, Philippines (Philstar) -- Former president President Corazon Aquino has passed away at dawn today (Aug. 1) due to complications from colon cancer, a statement from her family said. She was 76.

Mrs. Aquino, who has been confined at the Makati Medical Center for over a month, died around 3:18 a.m. after succumbing to cardio-respiratory arrest.

"She would have wanted us to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers and your continued love and support. It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for our country," the Aquino family statement said.

"Hinihiling po ng aming pamilya ang konting panahon para makasama namin ang aming mahal na ina(Our family is requesting for some time to be with our beloved mother)."

The Aquino family members said they will be announcing further details of her wake.

Mrs. Aquino and former President of the Philippines (in her famous Yellow Colour for democracy), considered as an icon of democracy in the country, spearheaded the first People Power revolution in 1986 that ousted the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. She is the widow of former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.

Supporters and close family members have been holding a 40-hour prayer vigil at the Edsa Shrine for Mrs. Aquino's recovery from her debilitating illness since Thursday night.

The latest prayer offering for the cancer-stricken Aquino will end noon today.

10-day mourning for Aquino

President Gloria Arroyo on Saturday declared a 10-day national mourning period for former leader Corazon Aquino, who died after a battle with colon cancer. Mrs Arroyo, in the United States on an official trip, praised Mrs Aquino for restoring ‘democracy and rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril’.‘The nation will mourn her passing,’ Mrs Arroyo said in a statement. ‘I am announcing that we will officially observe a 10-day period of national mourning. Our hearts go to the family in this hour of grief and sorrow.’

Mrs Aquino became president of a transitional government in 1986 after a bloodless ‘People Power’ revolt toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s 20-year regime. She framed a new constitution, overhauled the electoral process and opened peace talks with insurgent groups.

In retirement, she was a vocal critic of corruption in government and until she was diagnosed with cancer in March last year, led street protests against Mrs Arroyo. She had repeatedly called for the resignation of Mrs Arroyo, once a protege, whose nine-year presidency has been marked by massive corruption and allegations she has enriched her family using her office.

Former Aquino aide and press secretary Teodoro Locsin, who is also a close family friend, openly wept on television. ‘The purity, the nobility, never failed. She never asked for anything,’ in return, Mr Locsin said.

He said more than anything else, Mrs Aquino removed the ‘centre of corruption in government, because she would not be corrupt’. In the capital Manila, people attended vigils and lit candles as churches held requiem masses. — AFP

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