Feature

Philippines: Failing to live up to Aquino’s legacy

The Philippines still suffers from too much poverty, violence, and  corruption. The current president has been accused of cheating in the last election.

The Philippines has lost its mother, said Jullie Yap Daza in the Manila Bulletin. With the death of former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the nation is in deep mourning. Aquino was not the typical politician but a housewife who dared to stand up to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. After her husband, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, was assassinated by Marcos henchmen, she agreed to run for president in 1986 and ultimately led the “people power” protests that toppled the dictator. Cory set an example of “classy simplicity and dignity,” almost like “a living saint.” It’s no surprise that in these last weeks of her life, while she was suffering from colon cancer, millions of Filipinos were praying for her, in “government offices, malls, and schools.” Hundreds of people sent the hospital “their healing rosaries and miracle-working medals.” In a grand gesture, the Catholic Church allowed her wake to be held in Manila Cathedral, an honor denied even to bishops. Thousands of Filipinos filed past to pay their respects.

Hers is a legacy of peace, said the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an editorial. Aquino rose above “our bloodstained political culture” and showed us a new path of “active nonviolence.” Ever since her rule, nonviolence has been “the dominant means to accomplish change in our country—a revolution in thought, accomplished by prayers, marches, candlelight vigils.” Yet people power had its limits, said Malaysia’s New Straits Times. Even the popular Aquino was challenged by multiple coup attempts during her single six-year term. She survived only because of “the strong support that she continued to receive from the generals and the Pentagon.” And while her own reign was legitimate, since she stepped down “the Philippines has experienced no respite from rampant corruption, grinding poverty, or political violence.” The current president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has been widely accused of cheating in the last election.

But Aquino never gave up the fight, said the Manila Daily Tribune. After some evidence came out that Arroyo may have stolen the 2004 vote, Aquino led street protests against her. Indeed, the Aquino family told Arroyo she should “not be in any way involved in laying Aquino to rest.” That’s why Aquino did not receive a state burial. But how sad for the nation that we don’t consider our current leader worthy of paying respects to our great icon. “The problem facing Arroyo in the matter of Aquino’s death is the same crisis of credibility and acceptance she has with the Filipino nation. Gloria is president but nobody feels it.”

We owe it to Aquino to carry on her battle, said the Manila BusinessWorld. “Even beyond her presidency, in fact even in terminal illness, she continued to answer every call to patriotic duty with what energy was left in her.” Her stewardship was “a national motherhood undertaken with the purest instincts.” Grieving for her should be just the start; we also must “do right by her.” Just as she armed herself with her husband’s legacy, we are armed with hers—which empowers us to fight corruption and partisanship, “the scourges of our own time.”

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