A day after the 10th death anniversary of the late President Cory Aquino, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday criticized the democracy icon's legacy, particularly on her land reform program.
Speaking before agrarian reform beneficiaries in Davao City, Duterte said Aquino only became popular after losing her husband Ninoy.
"Cory Aquino may be popular. She is popular today. Why? For losing the husband in the hands of Mr. Marcos," he said.
Duterte said Aquino may had led the country's transition back to democracy, but he described her presidency as "incongruity."
He said Aquino exempted her family's sugar estate, Hacienda Luisita, from the government's land reform program.
"Aquino declared land reform for the entire Philippines but exempted Doña [Hacienda] Luisita, her own land," Duterte said.
"When she said, 'I would like to declare land reform in all of the Philippines.' Hindi niya sinali ‘yung kaniya. She exempted her… So you quarrel what? The one who freed, emancipated… It’s incongruity, they call it."
The Supreme Court in 2012 ordered the distribution of some 4,915 hectares of Hacienda Luisita, one of the largest pieces of privately-owned land in Luzon by the Cojuangco clan, to some 6,296 beneficiaries.
Though he has made no secret of his admiration for Marcos, a known friend of his family, Duterte admitted in 2018 that it was Aquino who jump-started his career in politics.
He was appointed as officer-in-charge vice mayor in Davao City, where he later served as mayor for 22 years.
Duterte also said his mother Soledad was among Aquino’s original supporters in Davao City.
Aquino succumbed to colon cancer on Aug. 1, 2009 at the age of 76.
The assassination of her husband Ninoy, an opposition senator, triggered the 1986 EDSA Revolution that toppled the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted her to the presidency.
Aquino was the first woman president of the Philippines.