HomeNewsFilipinos bid farewell to former president Benigno Aquino III

Filipinos bid farewell to former president Benigno Aquino III

As president, Aquino led the Philippines in shedding its perennial "sick man of Asia" image through robust economic growth

Filipinos lined up along the streets of the Philippine capital where the funeral convoy of former president Benigno Aquino passed on Saturday, June 26.

People, some wearing yellow — the color associated with the Aquino family and the 1986 revolution that toppled former strongman Ferdinand Marcos — waved ribbons and flowers.

Aquino, 61, died at a Manila hospital on Thursday, June 24, due to kidney failure as a result of diabetes.

He was buried at the Manila Memorial Park beside his parents — former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino and former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

The Philippine military accorded state funeral honors to the country’s 15th president and fired a 21-gun salute. A helicopter dropped yellow flowers on the grounds of the memorial park.

At the Aquino residence at the heart of the capital, supporters left chrysanthemums, yellow bell and sunflower for the late leader.

Several cities in the country also set up “memorial areas” where people lighted candles and offered flowers before a photograph of the former president.

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On Friday, thousands queued for the public viewing in a church in his alma mater on Friday.

Aside from family, friends, and colleagues, members of the public were also allowed to visit Aquino’s tomb in the afternoon of Saturday.

“To the man we were so blessed to have as our brother, we will forever be proud of you, thank you, long for you and love you,” Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz, an older sister of Aquino, said at the funeral mass.

A woman offers flowers at a ‘memorial area’ for former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III inside the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City on June 26, 2021. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Aquino’s remains were cremated on Thursday.

Among those paying respects to Aquino was vice president and political ally Leni Robredo, and close friends.

Most supporters were blocked at the entrance of the cemetery to prevent mass gathering and the spread of COVID-19.

“I pray for another family with the attitude like Noy and his parents that will fight for truth, justice, loyalty, love for God and country,” Thelma Chua, 64, wearing a yellow shirt at the funeral, told Reuters.

Known popularly as Noynoy, Aquino rode a wave of public support to the presidency after the 2009 death of his mother, the revered “People Power” leader Corazon Aquino, who was president from 1986 to 1992.

His namesake father, a staunch critic of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated when he returned from political exile in 1983, planting the seeds for the 1986 People Power revolution that booted the strongman from office.

As president, the younger Aquino led the Philippines in shedding its perennial “sick man of Asia” image through better governance and robust economic growth. He challenged Beijing’s sweeping claims of the South China Sea before the arbitration court in The Hague in 2013.

A view of the urn and portrait of former Philippine President Benigno Aquino during a public viewing at the Church of Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on June 25, 2021. (Photo by Mark Cristino/Pool via Reuters)

Aquino, who led a private life after stepping down, is survived by four sisters.

The best tribute for the late president is “to bring back, recover, preserve, safeguard and never again to compromise our dignity as a people and the decency of our leaders as servants, not bosses,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said in his homily.

President Rodrigo Duterte, criticized by the Catholic church and rights group for crassness and his bloody war on drugs but hugely popular as a man of the people, did not attend the funeral. – with a report from Reuters

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