(Updated 12:17 a.m., 19 April 2013) Time magazine has included Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in its latest list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."
The list, which hits newsstands Friday, April 19, names Aquino along with Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama among the world's 23 most influential leaders. Others in the list were divided into categories such as artists, icons, titans, and pioneers.
"In a country of nicknames, Filipinos proudly call their President PNoy — a pun on the word they use for themselves: Pinoy. For his courage, however, he really should have the pet name the family gave his eldest sister Maria Elena: Ballsy," Time news director Howard Chua-Eoan wrote in describing Aquino.
He said Aquino inherited the legacy of his late father, the martyred former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., and received a boost in the 2010 presidential elections from sympathy over the death in 2009 of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
But he said Aquino "quickly began making his own name" and pushed through the Reproductive Health law.
The Time article also credited Aquino for "[becoming] the face of the regional confrontation with Beijing over its claim to virtually all of the South China Sea." The Philippines has taken its territorial row with China over parts of the West Philippine Sea, mainly the Kalayaan islands in the Spratlys and Panatag Shoal, to a United Nations arbitration tribunal.
"It is a brave stance, the long-term consequences still unknown," the Time article noted.
Reacting to the Time article, Aquino credited fellow Filipinos for his inclusion in the list: "Ito po ay dahil sa inyong lahat."
The Presidential Communications Operations Office called attention to the Time story Thursday night.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda noted that this was the first time President Aquino appeared on the list.
The accolade comes amid recent revelations from Wikileaks cables that even his own mother doubted Aquino's ability to win a Senate seat in 2007, which required a massive push from his family to propel him to victory.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which would later praise President Aquino's leadership on the peace process, also doubted his ability to "understand the complexities" of the Mindanao conflict as he was nearing victory in the 2010 presidential elections, according to a confidential US embassy cable to Washington DC in February 2010.
A former congressman in his home province of Tarlac, Aquino is nearing the second half of his six-year term as President and has largely surprised critics with successive victories in the political and economic front.
Vowing to get rid of corruption in government, his administration has managed to replace the Ombudsman and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with Aquino appointees. His predecessor, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, remains in hospital detention over charges of cheating in previous elections.
Economic growth has soared to unprecedented heights in the last few months, with the country getting an investment grade rating for the first time, and the stock market reaching record levels several times this year. — DVM/YA, GMA News