BREAKING NEWS FROM BBC: PHILIPPINES EX-LEADER AQUINO DIES
JULY 31, 2009 (BBC NEWS <http://news.bbc.co.uk/> Click video here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8179397.stm
Corazon Aquino had been suffering from colon cancer for more than a year
Former Philippines President Corazon Aquino has died at the age of 76, her family said.
She had been suffering from colon cancer for more than a year and recently announced she was refusing further treatment.
Her family had said she was leaving her fate to God, prompting church services offering prayers for her health.
Mrs Aquino became president when the 1986 "people power" uprising deposed former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"Our mother peacefully passed away at 0318 [1918 GMT Friday] of cardio-respiratory arrest," Mrs Aquino's son, Senator Benigno Aquino Jr, told the media.
"She would have wanted us to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers and the continuous love and support," he said.
"It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for the country."
Mrs Aquino, who was known as Tita (Aunty) Cory, had been admitted to hospital about a month ago suffering from a loss of appetite related to her condition.
In a statement at the time, her family said they remained "in complete trust in God's infinite healing power".
"She has and always will be a woman of faith, a fighter, a source of hope and inspiration for all of us, not just her family but our entire nation as well," the statement said.
A series of daily masses were held to pray for Mrs Aquino's health, at least one of which was attended by her former political rivals, President Joseph "Erap" Estrada and former first lady Imelda Marcos.
Mrs Aquino was catapulted into politics following the murder of her husband, the prominent Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, who had been preparing to run for president.
Mrs Aquino's supporters had offered prayers for her recovery He had already spent seven years in prison following President Marcos's declaration of martial law, with his wife as his only contact with the outside world.
Mrs Aquino said of her husband's death: "What is more important is that he did not die in vain and that his sacrifice, certainly, awakened the Filipino people from their apathy and indifference."
After winning the presidential elections in 1986, she went on to run a country deeply divided after years of martial law and communist insurgency.
She battled several coup attempts against her rule, protected the country's fledgling democracy and freed political prisoners.
In recent years, she campaigned against former President Estrada, but then reconciled with him to join protests against incumbent President Gloria Arroyo over allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.
She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and later received several awards and citations for her work to promote democracy and human rights.
[PHNO: MAY SHE REST IN PERFECT PEACE!]
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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