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Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III Passes Away At 61

The 15th president of the Philippines passed away in the early hours of June 24, Thursday

Former Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III died on June 24, Thursday.

The news was confirmed by a family member who wished to remain anonymous until an official announcement has been made.

Former Philippine President Noynoy Aquino died at the age of 61, leaving behind his four sisters, Victoria, Ballsy, Pinky, and Kris. 

As of this writing, the cause of death has not been identified, however, it is known that the former president's health had taken a turn for the worse after he ended his six-year term in 2016. He was rushed to Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City early this morning. A few government officials who were part of President Noynoy's cabinet, including Mar Roxas and Jose Rene Almendras, as well as family members were with him at the hospital. 

Former Philippine President Noynoy Aquino had largely stayed away from the public eye after leaving office. He had attended only a few public gatherings since and has lived mostly a private life. 

Tributes for the former President continue to pour in as Filipinos mourn his death.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III has ordered that the Philippine flag at the Senate be flown at half mast to symbolize the country's mourning of one of its former leaders. 

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One of former President Noynoy's most notable achievements as the 15th Philippine president include reaching a peaceful conclusion to decades of violent clashes between the administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He set in place a deal that would grant greater autonomy to Southern Mindanao, a Muslim-majority region.

On the international front, former President Noynoy successfully raised the issue of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. The controversial move ended in a ruling stating that China had no right to make claims, and that the Philippines did indeed have sovereignty over those waters.  

A year before ending his term, former President Noynoy was interviewed by ANC anchor Tina Monzon-Palma. He was asked what he thought about his legacy, and what he was most proud of as President of the Philippines.

He answered, "When I get complaints, criticisms, I subscribe to the idea that if you complain, it seems that you believe that the person who you are complaining to can do something about it. Now, why is that an achievement? Because before people were so apathetic, they just gave up. People were voting with their feet. People were really leaving. The ultimate ambition was how to get out of the country."

He added, "Now, we have everybody’s inputs… Iyong everything is a work in progress. The development never really stops. The demands of our people for food, shelter, clothing, education, electricity—what have you—infrastructure. Hopefully, we will keep on growing as the population grows, the needs also grow. So again, even with the criticisms, I won’t say I like all of these criticisms but the point is the legitimate gripes are indicative that they do believe that government can effect positive changes as oppose to what we inherited, which was apathy. That I think is the greatest achievement."

Photo from @abscbnnews