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 Filipinos mark momentous death of Cory Aquino

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PostSubject: Filipinos mark momentous death of Cory Aquino   Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:19 am



MANILA - The Philippines will mark on Sunday one year since the death of democracy heroine Corazon Aquino, a momentous event that is still being felt as it propelled her son to the presidency.

The massive outpouring of sympathy after Aquino died from colon cancer at 76 prompted her son, Benigno, who was then an undistinguished legislator, to run for the nation's top job and ultimately win elections in a landslide.

"We have felt the impact of her death. The entire nation united to vote for President Noynoy Aquino," said current Vice President Jejomar Binay, a longtime supporter of Corazon Aquino who was popularly known by her nickname, Cory.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, another follower of the late president, said her trademark characteristics of honesty and simplicity were guiding the new administration in its infancy.

"She is a large part of our history, not just for what she did for us but for where she is leading us. Her example and legacy are what we are continuing today," Robredo said.

Sunday's anniversary will be marked with a mass and tribute at a Catholic school where Aquino's wake was held last year, and thousands of people lined up in the hot sun for hours to pay their last respects to her.

A giant television screen will be set up so more supporters can witness the ceremony, dubbed: "Her Legacy, Our Promise".

It will include a short program on her life and a speech by her son, who took office on June 30 replacing the highly unpopular Gloria Arroyo.

From housewife to democracy icon

Cory Aquino had no political ambitions and was happy just to play housewife for Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino -- father and namesake of the new president.

But when then-president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he cracked down on all opposition figures including Ninoy Aquino. This culminated in Ninoy Aquino's assassination by Marcos troops in 1983.

In the wake of the killing, the fragmented opposition finally united behind the widow of the martyred Ninoy, and she reluctantly agreed to lead them.

She ran for president against Marcos in the 1986 elections, campaigning to end his one-man rule and the widespread corruption of his regime.

Rampant election cheating by Marcos forces triggered a popular revolt that toppled him from power and installed the housewife as president.

During her 6 years in office, Aquino restored democracy and earned a reputation for personal honesty and modesty.

"There is genuine affection by the people for her. Among all the past presidents... Cory is best remembered. She was a housewife who had the courage to stand up to Marcos," said business leader Alberto Fenix.

Her death changed the political landscape, said Prospero de Vera, political analyst at the state-run University of the Philippines.

"It was a major turning point in the viability of a Noynoy candidacy," he told AFP, referring to the current president by his nickname.

After her death, surveys found skyrocketing support for Noynoy Aquino to run for president. Before that, he was not even considered a contender.

While Noynoy Aquino may owe much of his presidency to his mother, de Vera said the widespread reverence for her would not protect him if he stumbled as leader.

"People are slowly differentiating between Cory and Noynoy as the current administration begins its term," de Vera said.

"Even if Corazon Aquino remains popular, if Noynoy Aquino does not deliver, you will see a decline in the ratings of the new president."

Mynardo Macaraig, Agence France-Presse
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