Benigno Simeon Aquino III

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President Benigno S. Aquino III during his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2015.

To read this article in Filipino, see Benigno Aquino III.

Benigno Simeón Cojuangco Aquino III (8 February 1960 – 24 June 2021) was a politician who served as the 15th president of the Philippines, holding office from 2010 to 2016. He succeeded Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Also called "Noynoy" and "PNoy," he was the son of Corazon C. Aquino, the 11th Philippine president, and Benigno Aquino Jr., a former senator and critic of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Before becoming president, he was a senator from 2007 to 2010 and a representative of the 2nd district of the province of Tarlac from 1998 to 2007.

Thrust into national prominence after the death of his mother, Aquino ran for presidency in 2010, winning by a plurality (42.08%) against his closest rivals, former president Joseph Estrada and Manuel Villar. His term ended in 2016, and he was succeeded by Rodrigo Duterte.

Time named Aquino one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013. Among his accomplishments during his term were the stabilization of the economy, the enactment of the reproductive rights law, and being the face of the regional confrontation with Beijing over its claim on the West Philippine Sea. His six-year term also faced national crises and controversies, including his handling of Mamasapano Clash ("SAF 44"), Typhoon Yolanda, and the Manila Hostage Crisis.

He died from renal disease secondary to diabetes on 24 June 2021.

Early life and education

Benigno Simeón Cojuangco Aquino III was born in Manila to Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., an opposition senator from 1957 to 1962 during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, and Corazon "Cory" Aquino, the 11th president of the Philippines. He has four siblings, namely Maria Elena (“Ballsy”), Aurora Corazon (“Pinky”), Victoria Elisa (“Viel') and Kristina Bernadette (“Kris”). In September 1972, his father, who was then a senator, was arrested on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms, murder, and subversion.

Aquino completed his elementary, secondary, and college education at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in economics in 1981. One of his professors in the university was former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Shortly after graduating, he joined his family in the United States. His father had been in exile in the country since 1980, after the opposition leader was allowed by the Marcos administration to seek medical care abroad following a series of heart attacks while in prison. In 1983, Ninoy Aquino decided to return home to attempt to fix the deteriorating democracy in the country. On August 21 of that year, as he was being transported to a vehicle that would take him to prison just moments after landing at the Manila International Airport, Ninoy Aquino was assassinated on the tarmac of the airport. The death of Ninoy Aquino heightened the fervor for freedom from the autocratic rule of Ferdinand Marcos, which culminated in the 1986 People Power Revolution and the overthrow of the dictator. Cory Aquino was sworn in as president shortly after, serving until 1992.


After the assassination of his father, Aquino returned to the Philippines with his family. He became a member of the Philippine Business for Social Progress in 1983. He then worked as a retail sales supervisor for Nike Shoes and concurrently as an assistant for advertising and promotion for Mondragon Philippines from 1985 to 1986.

In 1986, he joined Intra-Strata Assurance Corporation as vice president. The company was owned by his uncle Antolin Oreta Jr. He was also the vice president and treasurer for Best Security Agency Corporation from 1986 to 1993. He then worked as an executive assistant for administration (from 1993 to 1996) and field service manager (from 1996 to1998) for Central Azucarera Tarlac, the sugar refinery in the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita.

On 28 August 1987, 18 months into the presidency of Corazon Aquino, rebel soldiers led by Gregorio Honasan staged a coup d'etat at the Malacañang Palace. Noynoy Aquino was two blocks from the palace when he came under fire. Three of his four security escorts were killed. The last was wounded while protecting him. Aquino was hit by five bullets, fragments of one of which are still lodged in his neck.

Political career

House of Representatives

Aquino was a member of the Liberal Party, of which he has been its chairman emeritus since 2016 and was its chairman from 2010 to 2016.

Aquino was born into a clan of politicians. His paternal great-grandfather, Servillano Aquino, was a representative to the Malolos Congress in 1899; his paternal grandfather, Benigno Aquino Sr., was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1943 to 1944 as a representative of the 2nd district of Tarlac; and his maternal grandfather Jose Cojuangco was a representative of the 1st district of Tarlac from 1934 to 1946. His mother, Corazon Aquino, was the 11th president of the Philippines, holding office from 1986 to 1992, and his father, Benigno Aquino Jr., was a senator from 1967 to 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law.

As a member of the Liberal Party, Aquino successfully ran for congressman in 1998, serving as representative of the 2nd district of Tarlac until 2007. He also served as deputy speaker from November 8, 2004 to February 21, 2006. He relinquished this post after calling for the resignation of then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when election rigging charges against the president emerged, which became known as the “Hello Garci” scandal.

During his term as a representative, he served in the following committees:

  • 13th Congress
    • Banks & Financial Intermediaries
    • Energy
    • Export Promotio
    • Public Order & Safety
  • 12th Congress
    • Civil
    • Political & Human Rights
    • Good Government
    • Public Order & Security\
    • Inter-Parliamentary Relations & Diplomacy
  • 11th Congress
    • Civil
    • Political & Human Rights (Vice-Chairman)
    • Public Order & Security
    • Transportation & Communications
    • Agriculture
    • Banks & Financial Intermediaries
    • Peoples’ Participation
    • Suffrage and Electoral Reforms
    • Appropriations
    • Natural Resources
    • Trade & Industry

Selected House Bills and Resolutions

  • House Bill No. 4251: Grants annual productivity incentives to all workers in the private sector
  • House Bill No. 4397: Strengthens the regulatory power of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to effectively enforce consumer laws
  • House Bill No. 4252: Increases the penalties for non-compliance of the prescribed increases and adjustments in the wage rates of workers
  • House Bill No. 3616: Extends the reglementary period for the educational qualification for PNP members
  • House Bill No. 1842: Provides for the codification of criminal laws
  • House Resolution No. 65: Inquires in aid of legislation into the policies and processes of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in granting rate increases to electric utilities
  • House Resolution No. 788: Creates a select Congressional Oversight Committee on intelligence funds to check and study the use of intelligence funds by government agencies to ensure that funds allocated therefore are utilized for the purpose they are intended


Aquino was elected senator in the 2007 midterm elections under Genuine Opposition, a coalition comprising several parties, including his own Liberal Party. With more than 14.3 million votes, Aquino's tally was the sixth highest of the 37 candidates for the 12 vacant seats. He assumed his new office on June 30, 2007.

As a senator, Aquino worked to make sure that the accountability processes in the government were at work. He studied the General Appropriations Act of 2009 and proposed key amendments to ensure that public funds were spent wisely. He also participated in investigations on the abuses of government officials and fought for justice for victims of human rights violations.

As the chairperson of the senate committee on local government, he introduced amendments to the Cooperative Code to make it more responsive to the needs of the people.

Among his proposed measures were:

  • Senate Bill 2035: Sought to raise standards in the construction of all public infrastructures by penalizing contractors of defective infrastructure
  • Senate Bill 2160: Sought the amendment of Government Procurement Act

2010 presidential bid

After the death of his mother, Corazon Aquino, on 1 August 2009, Noynoy Aquino was pegged to run for president in the 2010 elections. Aquino was uncertain whether he would run for the presidency and went to the Carmelite Convent in Zamboanga on September 4, 2009 for a few days of spiritual retreat. He said he wanted to be enlightened before making a decision. According to Aquino, three factors would influence his decision on running for president: his ability to guarantee that there would really be meaningful changes for society and the country, the availability of logistics for his electoral campaign, and the sentiments of his four sisters on his presidential bid.[1]

On 8 September 2009, at a press conference organized by the Liberal Party (LP) at Club Filipino in Greehills in San Juan City, party president Mar Roxas, who had initially been nominated by the party to run for president, gave way to Aquino as the standard bearer of LP.

Back from his retreat, Aquino made the announcement of his bid for presidency on September 9, 2009 at Club Filipino. On November 28, 2009, Aquino filed his certificate of candidacy (CoC) along with Roxas as his vice president under the Liberal Party.

According to a special survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted from September 5 to 6, 2009 in the National Capital Region (NCR), Pangasinan, Central Luzon (Region 3), and some parts of Southern Tagalog (Region 4-A), Aquino was preferred by 50 percent of the 1,200 respondents from a pre-selected list of presidential candidates.

In another survey conducted by SWS from November 4 to 8, 2009, Aquino was named by 59 percent of the sample population as among the top three best leaders to succeed Gloria Arroyo.

He also held a wide margin in the December 8 to 10, 2009 survey conducted by Pulse Asia among 1,800 respondents in a nationwide pre-election survey, with 45 percent, while top presidential rival Manny Villar received 23 percent. However, the gap was closed in the January 22 to 26, 2010 survey that yielded neck-and-neck results: 37 percent of the 1,800 respondents favored Aquino while 35 percent chose Villar.

In April 2010, an unverified document detailing a supposed psychological evaluation of Aquino's mental health was leaked to the public. The leakage of the results of the evaluation, supposedly conducted in 1996 in the department of psychology of the Ateneo de Manila, was alleged to have been perpetrated  Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party. Villar denied the allegations and challenged Aquino to take a psychiatric test and other medical evaluations to prove his sanity and fitness to become president.

Senator Chiz Escudero, a former aspiring presidential candidate, announced his support for Aquino and Jejomar Binay, causing a stir among Aquino-Roxas supporters.

In May 2010, Aquino admitted that he had been meeting with Iglesia ni Cristo Minister Eduardo Manalo and was also hoping to get an endorsement from Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy of Kingdom of Jesus Christ, who later supported Aquino's presidential rival and cousin, Gilbert Teodoro.

A few days after the elections, leading presidential candidate Aquino said that he would rather take an oath before a barangay chairman. Aquino refused to recognize Gloria Arroyo's appointed Supreme Court chief, Renato Corona.

Campaign manifesto

Aquino's platform was grounded on the legacy that his parents left to the Filipinos: democracy and democratic process, which he said he aimed to preserve by maintaining transparency, personal and institutional integrity, honesty, and good governance. He also campaigned for transformational leadership, government service, gender equality, peace and order, and environment protection.

In a forum with members on February 6, 2010, Aquino elaborated on his plans for the country should he win the presidency, highlighting the importance of job generation, especially among the youth, and health and judicial reform.

Presidential proclamation

President-elect Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III being proclaimed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles in 2010.

On June 9, 2010, Aquino was officially declared the winner of the May 2010 elections after nine days of canvassing done by the National Board of Canvassers. Aquino garnered a total of 15,208,678 votes against former president Joseph Estrada's 9,487,837. The areas where Aquino led are Cebu, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Negros Oriental, Camarines Norte, Zambales, Iloilo, Batanes, Agusan del Sur, Romblon, Taguig-Pateros, Eastern Samar, Bacolod, Mt. Province, Lanao del Sur, Pasig City, and Valenzuela City.


The presidential transition began on 9 June 2021 after the Congress's proclamation of his victory. Aquino chose Bahay Pangarap (English: House of Dreams), which is located inside of Malacañang Park, as his presidential residence.[2] He refused to live in the Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines, or in Arlegui Mansion, the residence of former presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos, stating that the two residences are too big. He took the oath of office on 30 June 2010, at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila, administered by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, instead of the then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, whose sudden assumption to the highest position in the Supreme Court by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo he openly opposed.[3]


President Aquino takes his oath before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales as the Philippines 15th President during inaugural ceremony at the Quirino Grandstand.

On 29 June 2010, Aquino officially named the members of his Cabinet, with he himself as Secretary of the Interior and Local Government,[4] a position that Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay had hinted on having.[5] Aquino later on relinquished the post, giving it to Jesse Robredo (who would later die in a helicopter crash and be replaced by Mar Roxas). His first appointments included Paquito Ochoa, Jr as executive secretary, Edwin Lacierda as presidential spokesperson, Armin Luistro for education, Leila de Lima for justice, Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Alberto Romulo for foreign affairs, and Florencio Abad for budget and management, among others.

Supreme Court appointments

To fill the only vacancy left in the Supreme Court following Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s last-minute appointment of Renato Corona as Chief Justice before stepping down, Aquino appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as the 169th associate justice on August 13, 2010.[6] Sereno would later become the Chief Justice a year after the impeachment of Corona in 2011.[7]

Infrastructure and Public-Private Partnership

As promised in his election campaign, Aquino started pushing for the public-private partnership by signing Executive Order No. 8, believing that private sector has a bigger role in infrastructure development in the Philippines that would spur economic activity and growth.[8] Several other PPP projects that were either approved, constructed or completed during the Aquino administration included the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway, Automated Fare Collection System, and Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, among others.

No "wang-wang" policy

Aquino is well remembered for his “no wang-wang policy,” which strengthened the Presidential Decree No. 96 that was issued by former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1973, which regulates the use of sirens, bells, whistles, horns and other similar devices only to motor vehicles designated for the use of the President, Vice President, Senate President, House Speaker, Chief Justice, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Fire Protection and ambulances. Aquino directed all agencies to confiscate sirens and blinkers from unauthorized officials, which he stated symbolizes arrogance and abuse.

Executive orders

On July 30, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 1, creating the Truth Commission.[9] The commission is tasked to investigate various anomalies and issues including graft and corruption allegations against the past administration, government officials and their accomplices in the private sector during the last nine years.[9] The commission has until December 31, 2012, to complete its mission.[9] Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. will head the commission.[9]

On August 4, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 2, signed on July 30, 2010, ordering the immediate removal of all midnight appointments made by the previous administration for violating the 60-day constitutional ban on presidential appointments before a national election.[10]

On August 6, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 3, signed on July 30, 2010, an executive order revoking Executive Order No. 883, signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on May 28, 2010, that automatically promoted lawyers in government executive service to the rank of Career Executive Service Officer III (CESO III).[11]

On August 9, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 4, signed on July 30, 2010, reorganizing and renaming the Office of the Press Secretary as the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO),[12][13] and creating the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO).[12][13] Aquino appointed former ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) anchor Ricky Carandang and Herminio Coloma as secretaries of the new media communications group.[13][14]

On September 1, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 5, signed on August 25, 2010, an executive order amending Executive Order No. 594, signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on December 20, 2006, stating the rules governing the appointment or designation and conduct of special envoys.[15] Executive Order No. 5 prevents special envoys from using the title "ambassador".[15]

On September 2, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 6, extending the duration of the operations of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) to December 30, 2010.[16]

On September 8, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 7, ordering the suspension of all allowances, bonuses and incentives of board members of government-owned and-controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) until December 31, 2010.[17]

On September 9, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 8, reorganizing and renaming the Build-Operate and Transfer Center (BOT) to the Public-Private Partnership Center (PPP) and transferring its attachment from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).[18]

K-to-12 Basic Education Program

As part of his agenda, Aquino directed the Department of Education to start implementing the K-to-12 Basic Education Program as early as 2012 to reform the education system of the country, which had been following an outdated 10-year basic education program.[19] The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]). Aquino said that the K-to-12 should provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.[20]

Reproductive health

Despite opposition from the influential Catholic Church, Aquino also supported the Reproductive Health Bill, the plan to distribute and give Filipino couples the choice to use contraceptives for artificial birth control.[21] After fourteen years of being stuck in Congress, the "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012" was finally signed into law on 21 December 2012 by Aquino.[22] The law was immediately challenged in court by "pro-life" groups influenced by the Catholic Church. On April 8, 2014, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law. The justices, however, struck down eight provisions of the law partially or in full.[23]

West Philippine Sea

The Aquino administration brought China to court in 2013 in a case against the latter’s claims to virtually all of the West Philippine Sea, which had been the cause of growing territorial row between the two countries. Three years later, the arbitration court in The Hague unanimously ruled in favor of the Philippines.[24] The five-member Arbitral Tribunal upheld the Manila’s position that China’s “nine-dash line” maritime claim is excessive and encroached into the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The victory was seen as Aquino's lasting legacy as president.[25]


Just three months into his presidency, Aquino dealt with a hostage situation where a disgruntled former police officer hijacked a tourist bus in Rizal Park, resulting in the death of eight Hong Kong residents.[26] Critics lamented the handling of the situation, which inevitably turned into a national crisis. China's state-run Global Times called the Philippines "one of the most chaotic countries in Southeast Asia" following the shootings.[27]

A press photo by the Office of the President showing Aquino while at work in March 2012.

Aquino’s administration was also criticized for what many believed as a slow government response to the Typhoon Yolanda disaster in 2013, which resulted in several countries providing humanitarian aid to the victims of the typhoon through non-governmental organizations and not the Philippine government.[28] Close to 7,000 people died and millions were left homeless. There were also reports of incompetence of Aquino’s men in handling the “Yolanda fund.”

In 2015, critics accused Aquino as also accountable for the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) operatives in a failed operation by allowing then-Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima to play a major role in the Mamasapano operation despite the latter being under preventive suspension.[29] Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales recommended filing of charges against Aquino. The cases were later dismissed of homicide charges and, later on, reckless imprudence by the Supreme Court.[30]

Fast facts

Aquino was:

  • The first bachelor president.
  • The second president to have studied in the Ateneo de Manila University, the other being Joseph Estrada.
  • The only president who was the third of his name.
  • The fourth president who was not sworn in by a chief justice. He was sworn in by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.
  • The sixth president to have been elected to a six-year term. The other five were Manuel L. Quezon (1935), Corazon Aquino (1986), Fidel V. Ramos (1992), Joseph Ejercito Estrada (1998), and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2004).
  • The seventh president to be inaugurated at the Quirino Grandstand.
  • The eighth president to receive an honorary degree from Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York.
  • The tenth senator to become president.
  • The fourth-youngest president after Emilio Aguinaldo, Ramon Magsaysay, and Ferdinand Marcos.
  • The second president to be a child of a former president.


  • Former Chair, Pacific Asia Network
  • Former Chair, Philippine Cooperative Center
  • Former Chair, National Cooperative Movement
  • Former National President, Philippine Jaycees
  • Chair, August Twenty-One Movement

Business Affiliations

  • Member, Philippine Business for Social Progress, 1983–1984
  • Field Services Manager, Central Azucarera de Tarlac

Personal life

Noynoy Aquino had been rumored to have had past relationships with Korina Sanchez, broadcast journalist Bernadette Sembrano and actress Diana Zubiri. At age 50, Aquino was in a relationship with Valenzuela councilor and TV host Shalani Soledad, but the couple ended their relationship in November 2010. After the breakup, Aquino reportedly admitted that he had been dating his personal stylist, Liz Uy; however, both him and Uy denied any romantic relationship between them.

Aquino enjoyed shooting and playing billiards. He was also an audiophile and loved listening to jazz, bossa nova, and original Pilipino music (OPM). One of his favorite Filipino artists was singer-composer Noel Cabangon.


Aquino died on 24 June 2021 at the age of 61. He had been suffering from various illnesses since 2019 and had undergone dialysis and a heart operation.

Honors and Awards

Foreign Honors

  • Japan: Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (June 2, 2015)
  • Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Collar of the Knightly Order pro merito Melitensi (March 4, 2015)
  • Indonesia: First Class of the Star of the Republic of Indonesia (October 10, 2014)
  • Kuwait: Collar of the Order of Mubarak the Great (March 23, 2012)

Honorary Degrees

  • Honorary doctoral degree in Economics, Fordham University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Economics, Centro Escolar University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Economics, Kasetsart University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Law, University of the Philippines, Diliman
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Law, Sophia University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Humanities. Tarlac State University
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, Loyola Marymount University


  • United States: City Council Resolution on welcoming the President to Chicago presented by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (May 6, 2015)


  1.   Mar gives way to Noynoy as Liberal Party standard bearer
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Aquino signs EO on Truth Commission -, Philippine News for Filipinos.
  10. Aquino fires Arroyo 'midnight appointees'.
  11. Aquino revokes Arroyo EO promoting gov't lawyers.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Aquino officially creates ComGroup.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Aquino forms media communications group.
  14. Press group reorganized.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Aquino's EO No. 5: Special envoys can't use 'ambassador' title.
  16. Executive Order No. 6.
  17. Aquino suspends allowances and bonuses for GOCC execs.
  18. Aquino issues EO 8 creating Public-Private Partnership Center.

External link

Honors and Awards

  • Honorary doctoral degree in Economics, Fordham University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Economics, Centro Escolar University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Economics, Kasetsart University
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Law, University of the Philippines, Diliman



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