President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday sought to downplay the legacy of late President Corazon Aquino, saying the heroine of the people power movement only became popular after the death of her husband and opposition figure, Benigno.
Duterte made the remarks a day after Aquino’s 10th death anniversary, as he also criticized his predecessor’s land reform program.
“Cory Aquino may be popular. She is popular today. Why? For losing the husband in the hands of [late President Ferdinand] Marcos,” Duterte said in a speech before agrarian reform beneficiaries in Davao City.
Aquino — the first woman president of the Philippines who served from 1986 to 1992 — led the bloodless, military-backed “People Power” revolution that toppled the 21-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, whom Duterte considers the country’s best president.
She only entered politics after Benigno, an opposition senator and prominent Marcos critic, was assassinated at the Manila airport on his return from political exile in the US.
Aquino died on Aug. 1, 2009 after a 16-month battle against colon cancer.
In the same speech Friday, Duterte slammed the 1988 agrarian reform law that Aquino signed, saying the program — which aimed to aim to distribute about 7.8 million hectares of land — did not include Hacienda Luisita, a sprawling sugar plantation in Tarlac province once owned by the Aquino, Cojuangco clans.
“Aquino declared land reform for the entire Philippines but exempted Doña Luisita, her own land,” Duterte said.
“She said, ‘I would like to declare land reform in all of the Philippines.’ … She exempted her [land]… So you [call her] what? The one who freed, emancipated… It’s incongruity, they call it,” he added.
To recall, the Supreme Court, in a decision promulgated on Nov. 22, 2011, unanimously ruled that the 4,915.75 hectares of Hacienda Luisita should be distributed to 6,296 beneficiaries of the land reform program initiated by Aquino.