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Corazon Aquino

Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino (January 25, 1933 August 1, 2009) was the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold that office in Philippine history. She is best remembered for leading the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines. She is considered an icon of democracy, and was titled by TIME Magazine in 1986 as its 'Woman of the Year'. A self-proclaimed "plain housewife",[1] Aquino was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the staunchest critic of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Senator Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon returning to the Philippines after three years in exile in the United States. After her husband's assassination, Aquino emerged as the leader of the opposition against the Marcos administration. In late 1985, when President Marcos called for a snap election, Aquino ran for president with former senator Salvador Laurel as her vice-presidential running mate. After the elections were held on February 7, 1986, and the Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Marcos the winner in the elections, Aquino called for massive civil disobedience protests, declaring herself as having been cheated and as the real winner in the elections. Filipinos enthusiastically heeded her call and rallied behind her. These series of events eventually led to the ousting of Marcos and the installation of Aquino as President of the Philippines on February 25, 1986 through the People Power Revolution. As President, Aquino oversaw the promulgation of a new constitution, which limited the powers of the presidency and established a bicameral legislature. Her administration gave strong emphasis and concern for civil liberties and human rights, and peace talks with communist insurgents and Muslim secessionists. Aquino's economic policies centered on bringing back economic health and confidence and focused on creating a market-oriented and socially responsible economy. Aquino's administration also faced a series of coup attempts and destructive natural calamities and disasters until the end of her term in 1992. Succeeded by Fidel V. Ramos as President in 1992, Aquino returned to private life although she remained active in the public eye, often voicing her views and opinions on the pressing political issues. In 2008, Aquino was diagnosed with colon cancer and, after a one-year battle with the disease, died on August 1, 2009. Her son Benigno Aquino III was elected president himself and was sworn in on June 30, 2010.

Personal life

Cory Aquino was born the 6th child of Jose Cojuangco (Don Pepe), nephew of the Ysidra Cojuangco (Doa Sidra), and Demetria Sumulong (Doa Metring), a daughter of ex-Cojuangco family lawyer turned senator Juan Sumulong of Antipolo, Rizal. The Cojuangcos were big landowners while the Sumulongs were influential politicians in both Lower and Upper Chambers of the Philippine Congress.

She, like her sisters Josephine, Teresita ("Ter") and Maria Paz, as well as their uncle Eduardo's wife Josephine "Nene" Murphy, studied in Saint Scholastica's College, Manila, an all girl's Catholic school run by German nuns in pre-war Manila. She graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York. Unlike her siblings, the young Cory was unassuming and simple. She wore hand-me-down uniforms used by her sister Ter. Her favorite subject was Mathematics, and upon graduating from elementary school, she received the highest honours. Her studies were interrupted when the Japanese invaded Manila. After World War II, she and her siblings as well as her cousins Ramon Cojuangco and Lourdes (now Mrs. Luis Tirso Rivilla) were sent by her father to the United States. The young Ms. Cory divided her time between the Cojuangco homes in New York (USA), Pasay, Ermita, Punta in Santa Ana district, the northern city of Baguio, the Hacienda Luisita and their hometown of Paniqui, Tarlac. For some summers in the United States, she was treated by her father, Don Pepe, to excursions to Washington, DC and trans-Atlantic voyages aboard the RMS Queen Mary. While studying in New England, she would develop a love of the French language. Besides English, Tagalog, and Kapampangan, she would also remain fluent in French for the rest of her life. Upon her own choosing, her secluded and easy years ended with her marriage to the grandson of General Servillano Aquino, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

1986 Presidential campaign


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 antiMarcos political opposition. In the last week of November 1985, Marcos surprised the nation by announcing on American television that he will hold a snap presidential election in February 1986, in order to dispel and remove doubts against his regime's legitimacy and authority.[5] 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 opposite candidate, Laurel, did not immediately give way to his close friend's widow. Laurel was only convinced to run as Cory's Vice President upon the urging of the influential Manila Cardinal Archbishop Jaime Sin. 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 martial 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.[6] 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.[7] 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, Cory 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 would 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 Antique Governor Evelio Javier was brutally murdered, allegedly by one 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 done in favor of Marcos. Despite this, the Batasang Pamabansa, which was dominated by allies of the ruling party, declared President Marcos as the winner in the recently concluded snap presidential election 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 already growing tired of Marcos' two decade-rule. 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 condemned the election.[3][8] 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.[8]
Installation as President

After weeks of tension following the disputed outcome of the snap election, disgruntled and reformist military officers, led by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos, surprised the entire nation and the whole world when they announced their defection from President Marcos and their strong belief that Aquino was the real winner in the presidential election on February 22, 1986. Upon the urging and encouragement of the activist Cardinal Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin, millions of Filipinos trooped to Camp Aguinaldo along Epifanio De los Santos Avenue (EDSA), where Enrile and Ramos have been holding operations, to give their moral support and prayers for the reformist soldiers. At that time, Aquino was meditating in a Carmelite convent in Cebu. Upon learning of the defection, Aquino called on Filipinos to rally behind Minister Enrile and General Ramos. Later on, Aquino flew back to Manila in order to prepare to assume the presidency upon the ouster of Marcos. Finally, to the

amazement and admiration of the entire world, after twenty years of martial rule, Ferdinand Marcos was driven out from power and Corazon Aquino was formally and peacefully sworn in as the new president of a freed and liberated Philippines on February 25, 1986, a historic event which is now known and remembered as the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Agrarian Reform
Upon her ascension into power, 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 Malacanang Palace to demand genuine land reform from Aquino's administration. However, the supposedly peaceful farmers' march turned bloody and 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 tragic incident led some prominent members of the Aquino Cabinet like the nationalist and progressive senator Jose W. Diokno to quit from their government posts. Though Aquino did not have any personal and official involvement with the drastic actions taken by some police elements, her administration has been faulted since then for failing to solve land disputes in the country. 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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).[18] 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.[18]

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.
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,[19] 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 Doa Paz sank, which is the World's worst peace-time maritime disaster of the 20th century. The disaster occurred in December 1987 which killed more than 1,700 people. During Aquino's presidency, electric blackouts became common in Manila. The capital experienced blackouts of seven to 12 hours, bringing numerous businesses to a halt. By the departure of Aquino in June 1992, businesses in Manila and nearby provinces have lost nearly $800 million since March 1992.[20] The Aquino administration knew for years that country's power plants were failing, but they did not act to solve the problem.[21] It was only during the time of her successor, Fidel Ramos, that the government decisively solved the severe power outages that were common during her tenure.