Action for Economic Reforms (AER) expresses its deepest condolences to the Aquino family on the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III.

President Aquino was most instrumental in passing hard but critical reforms whose impacts are still being felt today. In particular, he played a key role in pushing for the landmark Sin Tax Reform Law in 2012, which created the momentum for sustained tax rate increases throughout the years. Aside from reducing smoking prevalence, this law created fiscal space, boosting revenues and leading to rapid economic growth until the pandemic hit. The Sin Tax Law served as the playbook for the passage of comprehensive tax reforms. Its financing also brought about the universal health care program, which we continue to strengthen today.

He had the courage to file an arbitration case against China regarding the West Philippine Sea dispute. The victory of the Philippines in the arbitration case sealed the country’s moral, political and legal ascendancy over China in the maritime dispute. He also had the courage to fight the powerful Church to have the Reproductive Health Law passed.

To be sure, controversial and unpopular actions hounded his term, such as the Mamasapano incident and the Napoles scandal. Nonetheless, these controversies do not undermine PNoy’s standing as a reformist. He advanced pro-growth, pro-poor social and economic policies. And he continued the work of his mother in consolidating the democratic gains achieved from the people power that ousted the Marcos dictatorship. We thank him for his principled and honest leadership, and for fighting to uphold good governance throughout his administration. May he rest in peace.