Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, who is battling colon cancer, has decided to forgo further chemotherapy or any other medical treatment, her spokeswoman was quoted yesterday as saying.
The 76-year-old Aquino, who led the Philippines from 1986 to 1992 after the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, was admitted to a Manila hospital last week and is reportedly being fed intravenously.
“The country’s icon of democracy is fighting the hardest battle of her life,” spokeswoman Deedee Siytangco wrote in an article published in the Manila Bulletin.
Siytangco said Aquino had been moved to a private room, in a decision “she and her children made in consultation with her doctors.”
Family members have rushed to her bedside, she added.
“She is no longer receiving any chemotherapy or any other medical interventions,” she said, quoting a family member.
Members of the Aquino family and the former president’s doctors were not immediately available for comment. Reporters who converged at the hospital were asked to leave, an AFP photographer said.
Aquino has largely remained out of the public eye in recent months, with doctors fearing she may contract infections in her fragile state.
She had been undergoing chemotherapy and was previously hospitalized from March to May.
The murder of Aquino’s husband, Benigno Aquino Jr, in 1983 led to widespread street protests that culminated three years later in the toppling of Marcos, who had ruled the Philippines for 20 years with an iron hand.
Aquino was installed as president shortly thereafter.
She is regarded as a symbol of the country’s return to democracy, although her six-year term was marked by several bloody coup attempts.
Aquino is also known as a moral crusader — after her term ended in 1992, she continued to fight for various causes, including anti-corruption efforts.
Aquino helped mobilize street protests against former president Joseph Estrada, a self-confessed former womanizer and heavy drinker, who was ousted in 2001.
She reconciled with Estrada last year and both of them joined street protests against current President Gloria Arroyo, whose family has been accused of massive corruption.
Meanwhile, former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos turned 80 yesterday, claiming to be nearly broke but feeling vindicated more than two decades after her dictator husband was ousted in a popular revolt.
“I have reached the lucky number eight, for eight decades,” the flamboyant Marcos said as she distributed rice to hundreds of poor residents at a dump site converted into a sprawling housing area in a northern Manila suburb.
“My birthday wish is that I be given more health and a longer life, so I can devote myself to helping the Filipino poor,” she said.
Wearing a pink national dress, jade earrings and sporting a large diamond ring, the woman known worldwide for her excessive lifestyle and 3,000 pairs of shoes still has something of a regal presence.
Her burly bodyguards jostled with a pack of press photographers as she waded through the crowd of supporters wanting merely to touch her.
“I have always been at peace with the truth,” she said. “I feel vindicated because no court has convicted me.”
She said she is nearly broke after 23 years of “relentless persecution, vilification and ridicule” by the government, but remains happy that she has the support of her family and the poor.