Fordham University mourns the death of Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, a champion of human rights and political reform whose presidency dismantled the regime of strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“A woman of compassion, courage and deep understanding, President Aquino will be missed not just by the people of the Philippines, but by everyone who values the rule of law,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “Thrust into the spotlight, she not only changed a government, she changed the political culture of a nation.”
Aquino was propelled to office by her “people power” movement, after her husband, opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was gunned down at Manila’s airport in August 1983 as he returned from exile. Corazon Aquino defeated Marcos in a 1986 election, her cause bolstered in part by Catholic churches in the Philippines. She received an honorary doctorate of laws from Fordham that year, telling the wildly enthusiastic audience, “Except for the cool weather, I feel like I’m in the Philippines, like I’m at home.”
One of Aquino’s successors, President Maria Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University in 2003—the last such degree conferred by Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., Fordham’s outgoing president. Her father, Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal, also received an honorary doctorate of laws on Oct. 9, 1964, on the Rose Hill campus.