Former Philippine leader Aquino dies

MANILA: Former Philippines president Corazon Aquino, whose “People Power” revolution toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy to the nation, died

today after a battle with colon cancer.

“Cory” Aquino was propelled into the political spotlight in 1986, leading millions of Filipinos in protests against the corrupt regime

of Marcos, who jailed thousands of dissidents during his brutal 20-

year regime.

As people across the Catholic nation woke to the news, President Gloria Arroyo declared a 10-day period of mourning for Aquino, whom she praised as a “national treasure.”

Aquino’s family announced her death early Saturday. “Our mother peacefully passed away at 3:18 am, August 1, 2009 of cardio-respiratory arrest,” Senator Benigno Aquino Jr said in a statement outside the Makati Medical Centre in Manila, where his mother had been hospitalised.

“It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for the country,” Aquino said.

Arroyo, in the United States on an official

visit, said: “Aquino led a revolution that restored democracy and the

rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril.” Former aide and press secretary Teodoro

Locsin, who is also a close family friend, openly wept on television.

Aquino’s five children have opted to bury their mother in a private ceremony next week.