MANILA – Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had been in and out of the hospital even before the Covid-19 outbreak last year.
When the virus escalated, his staff left rarely left the Aquinos’ Times Street residence in Quezon City, wary about infecting him.
On Thursday morning, the 61-year-old only son of democracy icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino died of renal disease secondary to diabetes, announced his elder sister Pinky Abellada.
Abellada said the official time of death declared at Capitol Medical Center, which is near the Aquinos’ residence, was 6:30 a.m.
“It is with profound grief that on behalf of our family, I am confirming that our brother, Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III, died peacefully in his sleep,” Abellada confirmed to the media at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig.
She was with sisters Bally Cruz, Viel Dee, and Kris Aquino, but none of the three spoke.
She also thanked all the doctors, nurses, and other medical staff who took care of her brother and the nuns and priests who prayed for his recovery.
“No words can express how broken our hearts are and how long it will take for us to accept the reality,” Abellada said, reading from a prepared statement.
Upon learning of the former president’s death, some supporters rushed to the hospital where they waited with the media.
Hilaria Santiago lives near the hospital and said she has been an admirer of former President Cory.
“Nagulat ko nang madinig ko sa balita yung nangyari kay dating president. Idol ko rin si dating president Cory Aquino. Nakakalungkot naman (I was shocked when I heard of the news about the former president. I also admire his mother, the late President Cory Aquino. It is a sad day for us),” Santiago said.
Flowers were also placed outside the Times Street house.
A delivery driver was surprised when she saw the media converged on the famous QC street.
“Hindi ko nga po alam na dyan nakatira si dating president Noynoy. May ide-deliver lang ako dito sa malapit at na-curious ako maraming media. Nakakalungkot dahil naging mabuting pangulo naman siya (I did not know that former president Noynoy lives here. I was just about to deliver an item nearby and I became curious that there are so many media people. It is sad because he was also a good president during his term),” Arnel Esqguerra told the Philippine News Agency.
An ambulance brought Aquino’s remains to the Heritage Memorial Park.
Pending the result of his Covid-19 test, Abellada said wake details will follow.
QC 6th District Rep. Kit Belmonte also went to the hospital and was the one who told the media the body will be taken to Heritage.
“Nakikiramay tayong lahat (We sympathize with the family). It’s a sad day for the nation,” Belmonte said.
Abellada said “Noy” was a very private person whom they oftentimes persuaded to answer back at critics.
Most of all, they will remember how he worked tirelessly for the country.
“Mission accomplished, Noy. Be happy now with Dad and Mom. We love you and we are so blessed to have had the privilege to have you as our brother. We’ll miss you forever,” Abellada said.
By Marita Moaje