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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 20:33 GMT 21:33 UK
Philippines recalls Aquino killing
By John MacLean
BBC, Manila

The Philippines is marking the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Benigno Aquino, one of the most crucial figures in the country's recent history.

Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, addressing crowd on eve of anniversary
Corazon Aquino's late husband is idolised by many Filipinos
The death of Mr Aquino led to the overthrow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the restoration of democracy.

Filipinos are commemorating the anniversary with a special holiday, the unveiling of a new statue of Mr Aquino and by bedecking the streets of Manila with yellow.

Yellow was the colour of the opposition to the corrupt regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.

In life, Mr Aquino, as exiled leader of that opposition, did little to loosen Mr Marcos' grip on power.

But on the 21 August, 1983, he was shot dead as he stepped off the aircraft that had brought him back from exile.

Marcos toppled

The assassination began the period of political turmoil that ended with the 1986 People Power Revolution which overthrew Mr Marcos and replaced him with Mr Aquino's widow, Corazon.

Gold coin commemorating Benigno Aquino
Aquino's death is being marked with a special holiday

Mrs Aquino restored democracy which is still in place today.

Her late husband is now widely regarded here as a heroic, almost saintly figure.

But many of the characteristics of the Marcos era - political violence, corruption and poverty - are still rife in the Philippines and the mastermind of the assassination of Mr Aquino has never been conclusively identified.

The BBC's John McLean
"He was shot dead seconds after stepping off the plane"

Timeline: The Philippines
29 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: The Philippines
09 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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