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Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino passes away

FORMER Philippine president Corazon "Cory" Aquino died early this morning at age 76 after battling colon cancer for over a year, her family said.

Corazon Aquino's son, Senator Benigno Aquino III, confirmed that the former Philippine leader died of cardio-respiratory arrest at 3:18 am local time today (1918 GMT yesterday) at the Makati Medical Center in the country's capital Manila.

"Our mother peacefully passed away at 3:18 am, Aug. 1, 2009, of cardio-respiratory arrest," the senator said in a statement.

"She would have wanted to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers and your continued love and support. It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for our country," he added.

Aquino was diagnosed with the disease in March 2008 and has been confined at the hospital for more than a month.

Previously a housewife, Aquino was pushed into politics after the assassination of her late husband, opposition senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, upon his return from exile at the Manila International Airport in 1983.

She led the military-backed mass revolt, known as "People Power" revolution, in 1986 to unseat the then president Ferdinand Marcos, putting an end to his 26-year iron-fist rule. And she became the country's first female president in 1987.

Today, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now in the United States for a working visit, expressed her condolences over the demise of the former leader.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who is accompanying President Arroyo in her U.S. trip, told a Philippine radio station that the government is set to declare a week of mourning for Mrs. Aquino's death.

"President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joins the rest of the nationin mourning the demise of former president Cory Aquino and joins the entire country in expressing our most sincere condolences to the Aquino family over this development," Remonde said.

Remonde noted that the former president, under the law, is entitled to a state funeral, but added that this would be subject to the family's approval.


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