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CORAZON C. AQUINO

Aquino, Corazon (1933- ), Philippine political figure and President of the Philippines (1986-1992).

Corazon (Cory), born Corazon Cojuanco, was the daughter of a wealthy landed family and was educated in Manila and at Roman Catholic convent schools in the United States. She graduated from Mount St Vincent College in New York and studied law at Far Eastern University in Manila. She married Benigno Simeon Aquino (Ninoy) in 1954.

She moved with her husband to the United States following his release from prison in 1980. After his assassination at Manila Airport in 1983, Corazon went to the Philippines for her husband’s funeral and stayed to work in the legislative election campaign. The opposition won one-third of the seats in 1984. Marcos called presidential elections for February 1986, and she became the opposition candidate for president. Marcos, declaring himself victor in the February 7 election, was inaugurated on February 25. An army revolt under Fidel Ramos and others, and demonstrations on her behalf, led to Aquino’s inauguration on the same day, in the so-called EDSA Revolution. Marcos accepted asylum in the United States, while Aquino formed a provisional government. She implemented a new constitution ratified by a landslide popular vote, and held legislative elections in 1987, but opposition within the military, a continuing Communist insurgency, and severe economic problems plagued her presidency. She declined to run for a second term in 1992, yielding the presidency to her favoured candidate Ramos. In 1995 she ran a “Never Again” campaign during national elections to prevent the election of Marcos’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and the former army colonel and coup plotter Gregorio Honasan. In 1996 she campaigned to prevent President Ramos from changing the constitution to permit a second presidential term.

Aquino became President and won the enactment of a new constitution in February 1987. Although she won a vote of confidence in legislative elections that May, military unrest, coupled with popular discontent at the slow pace of economic reform, continued to threaten her government. US Air Force jets assisted Philippine government forces in suppressing a coup attempt in December 1989. In 1991 damage from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in central Luzon led the United States to abandon nearby Clark Air Base; the Philippine senate then refused to renew the lease on the lone remaining US base, Subic Bay Naval Station, which the United States closed in November 1992. Aquino declined to run in the May 1992 presidential election; instead, she endorsed the eventual winner, her former Defence Secretary, Fidel Valdez Ramos.

Corazon Aquino became the first woman president of the Philippines in 1986 when she defeated Ferdinand E. Marcos. After she became president, she abolished the National Assembly and replaced the constitution with a new one that was adopted by popular vote in 1987. She had been married to Benigno Aquino, who was assassinated in 1983.

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