Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III: The legacy he left behind

·Contributor
·5 min read
FILE PHOTO: President Benigno
FILE PHOTO: President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino Jr., gestures during a news conference at the Malacañang Presidential Palace in Manila August 18, 2010. (Source: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

While the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III continued his parents' legacy, he also made his own mark in the country’s democracy. His presidency was marred by some political lapses, but ultimately he succeeded in strengthening the Philippine economy.

Here are some of his breakthrough policies that have changed the course of the country’s history.

Poverty alleviation

FILE PHOTO: Filipinos wait in queue outside the Philippine Postal Office in Manila, Philippines where poor families gathered to receive cash grants from the government on Tuesday March 12, 2013. Pantawid Pamilya, the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, provides cash grants to very poor Filipinos to encourage them to keep their children of age 0-14 in school and have regular health checks. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
FILE PHOTO: Filipinos wait in queue outside the Philippine Postal Office in Manila, Philippines where poor families gathered to receive cash grants from the government on Tuesday March 12, 2013. Pantawid Pamilya, the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, provides cash grants to very poor Filipinos to encourage them to keep their children of age 0-14 in school and have regular health checks. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Following a landslide victory in 2010, Aquino waged a war against the country’s deep-seated poverty. During his term, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched its flagship poverty alleviation program. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) aimed to eradicate extreme poverty in the Philippines by investing in health and education. The department patterned the conditional cash transfer system from developing countries, particularly Brazil and Mexico.

Anti-corruption drive

FILE PHOTO: President-elect Noynoy Aquino and outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo review Honor Guards during the inauguration of Noynoy Aquino as the fifteenth President of the Philippines at Quirino Grandstand on June 30, 2010 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: President-elect Noynoy Aquino and outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo review Honor Guards during the inauguration of Noynoy Aquino as the fifteenth President of the Philippines at Quirino Grandstand on June 30, 2010 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

Aquino bagged the presidency with the battle cry “kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” (without the corrupt, there won’t be poor people). Staying true to his promise, he also championed “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path), vowing to remove crooks from public office.

With the public exhausted from the anomalies involving his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his victory was largely seen as a protest vote. Arroyo was consequently detained for almost five years before the Supreme Court cleared her of the charges.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace pact

FILE PHOTO:  In this handout from the Presidential Photo Division, President Benigno S. Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak witness Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal GPH Peace Panel chairperson Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Abdul Ghafar sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in a ceremony at the Kalayaan Grounds of the Malacañan Palace. The agreement effectively ends four decades of deadly fighting between the Philippine government and the largest Muslim insurgency in the troubled southern island of Mindanao which has claimed around 150,000 casualties on both sides and displaced tens of thousands. The historic agreement grants local autonomy and self governance in regional areas the Muslims regard as their ancestral homeland.  (Photo by Presidential Photo Division via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: In this handout from the Presidential Photo Division, President Benigno S. Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak witness Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal GPH Peace Panel chairperson Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Abdul Ghafar sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in a ceremony at the Kalayaan Grounds of the Malacañan Palace. The agreement effectively ends four decades of deadly fighting between the Philippine government and the largest Muslim insurgency in the troubled southern island of Mindanao which has claimed around 150,000 casualties on both sides and displaced tens of thousands. The historic agreement grants local autonomy and self governance in regional areas the Muslims regard as their ancestral homeland. (Photo by Presidential Photo Division via Getty Images)

The signing of a 2014 peace pact with the largest Muslim separatist rebel organization, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was one of Aquino’s key achievements. The agreement called for Muslim self-rule in parts of Mindanao in exchange for a deactivation of MILF’s rebel forces. Aquino paved the way for peace in the country's south, which is home to the country's minority Muslim population.

West Philippine Sea arbitration

FILE PHOTO: Activists participate on a protest in front of the Chinese Consular office in Manila on July 12, 2018, to mark the second anniversary of a UN-backed tribunal ruling in July 2016 saying there was no basis for China's claims to most of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in July 2016 ruled that there was no legal basis for Beijing's claims to much of the South China Sea, embodied in a
FILE PHOTO: Activists participate on a protest in front of the Chinese Consular office in Manila on July 12, 2018, to mark the second anniversary of a UN-backed tribunal ruling in July 2016 saying there was no basis for China's claims to most of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in July 2016 ruled that there was no legal basis for Beijing's claims to much of the South China Sea, embodied in a "nine-dash line" that dates from 1940s maps and stretches close to other countries' coasts, a decision which China angrily rejected. (Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In diplomatic affairs, his administration will go down in history for its firm stance over territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea. He made headlines in 2013 when he dragged China to court over a long-running dispute in the South China Sea.

Three years later, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, dismissing China's territorial claims. While Beijing appealed the decision, several national leaders expressed their support for the Philippines.

Economic growth

FILE PHOTO: Rows of condominium buildings are seen behind a middle-class residential district in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila July 4, 2012. One-third of the Philippines' 94 million population lives below the poverty line and infrastructure remains mostly woeful. But a growing number of analysts and investors say this time the Philippines promises to leapfrog into a higher growth pattern with signs that President Benigno Aquino is serious about tackling old problems of graft and tax dodging. The economy grew 6.4 percent in the first three months of the year, second only to China among Asian economies, and Aquino told Reuters he expected it to accelerate in the second quarter. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
FILE PHOTO: Rows of condominium buildings are seen behind a middle-class residential district in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila July 4, 2012. One-third of the Philippines' 94 million population lives below the poverty line and infrastructure remains mostly woeful. But a growing number of analysts and investors say this time the Philippines promises to leapfrog into a higher growth pattern with signs that President Benigno Aquino is serious about tackling old problems of graft and tax dodging. The economy grew 6.4 percent in the first three months of the year, second only to China among Asian economies, and Aquino told Reuters he expected it to accelerate in the second quarter. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Under Aquino’s leadership, the Philippines revitalized its economy and cast off its long-held reputation as the "Sick Man of Asia." The country’s emerging economy grew steadily due in part to the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI).

His administration also increased public spending on infrastructure. Despite the fact that the global economy was unstable, the country's approximately 10 million overseas workers who send remittances kept local consumption high. The business outsourcing industry, which employed roughly 1 million people at the time also spurred economic growth. In the second quarter of 2014, the Philippine economy grew by 6.4 percent year over year, making it one of Asia's fastest-growing economies.

Former President Benigno Aquino III, who served from 2010 to 2016, “died peacefully in his sleep” on Thursday (June 24) at the age of 61 after being hospitalized at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City due to renal disease secondary to diabetes.

Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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