Page last updated at 04:56 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 05:56 UK

Fans and foes pray for ill Aquino

Corazon Aquino attending special mass for 25th anniversary of muder of husband Benigno Aquino, 17 August 2008
Cory Aquino became a democracy icon after her husband's muder

Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino has left her fate to God, her family has said, prompting masses to offer prayers for her health.

The Aquino family, long dominant in Philippine politics, said she had been battling cancer for a year and a half.

She has refused further chemotherapy or other medical treatment against colon cancer, her publicist said.

Mrs Aquino became president when the 1986 People's Power uprising deposed former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The widow of former Senator Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino, she was catapulted from domesticity to run a country deeply divided after years of martial law and communist insurgency.

She battled several coup attempts against her rule, protected the country's fledgling democracy and freed political prisoners. But she was often criticised for weakness before overseeing a smooth transition to President Fidel Ramos in 1992.

In recent years, she has campaigned against former President Joseph 'Erap' Estrada, but then reconciled with him to join protests against incumbent President Gloria Arroyo over allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.


Now 76 years old, Mrs Aquino was recently hospitalised "because of her loss of appetite, caused by fluid build-up in her stomach area," her family said.

"We remain in complete trust in God's infinite healing power," the family's statement said.

"Our family wishes to thank the Filipino people for your prayers and outpouring of love and concern for our mother," the statement said.

"She has and always will be a woman of faith, a fighter, a source of hope and inspiration for all of us, not just her family but our entire nation as well," the statement said.

At the start of a series of daily masses to pray for Mrs Aquino's health, Mr Estrada and former first lady Imelda Marcos offered their prayers.

"I asked all these people to offer prayers to her. I have peace in my heart and am comfortable with the truth. I am praying for her safe recovery," Mrs Marcos said as she handed out bags of rice at a northern Manila slum to celebrate her 80th birthday on Thursday.

The murder of Mrs Aquino's husband, Ninoy, in 1983, led to widespread street protests that culminated three years later in the Marcos regime's demise.

Deedee Siytangco, Mrs Aquino's publicist, told reporters Mrs Aquino remained conscious and stable.

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