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Aquino son wins power in Philippines

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Philippines' next president revealed
  • Aquino wins presidency with 15 million votes in May election
  • His parents are revered figures in the Philippines, mother was former president
  • Aquino believed to have tapped into collective disappointment of the people
  • New president vows to fight corruption, restore power to the people

Manila, Philippines (CNN) -- The son of revered former Philippines' president Corazon Aquino has become the country's new leader less than one year after his mother's death.

The Philippine Congress proclaimed Benigno Aquino III as the country's next president Wednesday after he secured more than 15 million votes in the May election -- about 5.7 million ahead of one-time president Joseph Estrada, his closest contender.

Aquino takes office on June 30, replacing Gloria Arroyo who could not run because of the six-year term limit introduced by Aquino's mother Corazon during her term in office between 1986 and 1992.

Both Corazon and her husband Benigno were revered figures in the country for their role in ending the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Video: Aquino's campaign promises

The elder Benigno was shot dead on his return from exile in the United States in 1983. The opposition leader had been returning to the Philippines to push Marcos out of office.

After his death, the task fell to his wife Corazon, who won the support and admiration of the electorate through her "People Power" movement.

Amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud and a mutiny by the country's military, the U.S. administration, then led by Ronald Reagan, withdrew its support for Marcos and the dictator sought exile in Hawaii.

Corazon Aquino took office in 1986 in a country with a $28 billion debt, widespread poverty and a persistent Marxist insurgency. She put in place a U.S.-style constitution that limited presidents to a single six-year term and survived seven coup attempts -- including one that was suppressed with American help.

You're the public, you're the masters, you're the one with wants and needs that should be wanted and delivered.
--Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III

She left office at the end of her term in 1992, to make way for Fidel Ramos. He was followed by Joseph Estrada and the now outgoing President Gloria Arroyo.

Aquino died in August 2009 after a long battle with colon cancer. Her supporters are now backing her son, who wears his mother's signature color yellow and speaks of returning power to the people.

"We are public servants," Aquino told CNN on Tuesday. "You're the public, you're the masters, you're the one with wants and needs that should be wanted and delivered. And we'll bring it back to that point."

That meant making it possible for people to improve their lives, he said.

"You want to level the playing field, giving everyone the chance to advance their status in life, the opportunities to improve their lot," he said.

Journalist Maria Ressa said since Aquino's departure from office many Filipinos have felt that the promise of the "People Power" movement has gone unrealized

The younger Aquino, who had a relatively lackluster record as a lawmaker, was able to tap into that collective well of disappointment, Ressa said.

Aquino has vowed to put the country's interests over any political motivations.

"I have the freedom to be able to decide what is best and good for our country rather to embark in political considerations," he said.

One of his priorities, he says, is fighting corruption in a country where most people, according to a recent survey by Transparency International, feel the previous government failed.

CNN's Arwa Damon and Kathy Quiano contributed to this report.