Former Philippines President Benigno Aquino III dies of renal disease at 61

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June 24 (UPI) — Benigno Aquino III, a longtime political figure who was president of the Philippines for six years, died of renal disease on Thursday after fighting health problems for more than a year. He was 61.

Pinky Aquino-Abellada, Aquino’s sister, made the announcement of the death in a family statement at Taguig City. Aquino died peacefully in his sleep at home, the family said.

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A death certificate said he died from “renal disease secondary to diabetes.”

“Even before the pandemic, he had been going in and out of the hospital,” Aquino-Abellada said, according to the Philippine Star. “To the 15.2 million who trusted him in 2010 and gave him the biggest tribute that may be given to any Filipino, us sisters will forever thank you.”

Harry Roque, a spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who replaced Aquino in 2016, said the country was “grateful for the former president for his contribution and services to the country.”

Roque said the Philippine government has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast to mourn Aquino’s death.

Aquino, the son of former Philippine President Maria Corazon Aquino, survived a 1989 military coup attempt while trying to defend her. He went on chart his own political career as a member of the Philippines’ Congress from 1998 to 2007 and then a senator from 2007 to 2010.

He was president of the Philippines between 2010 and 2016.

Aquino’s father, Benigno Aquino Jr., was a popular political figure who was killed in 1983 after returning to the Philippines from exile in the United States. His death led to the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and eventually put Maria Corazon Aquino in power.

Benigno Aquino III

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III speaks at a summit on economic reforms during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Beijing on November 9, 2014. The long-time political figure died from renal dissease on June 24 at the age of 61. Pool Photo by Jin Liwang/UPI | License Photo