Butz Aquino, former actor and legislator, takes final bow at 76

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Former Sen. Agapito "Butz" Aquino

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – In his younger years, Agapito "Butz" Aquino was an actor who played supporting roles in several movies from the mid-1960s to 1983, the year his older brother, former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. was assassinated.

That was the year he took on his biggest role – not in the movies but in politics. He founded the August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM), a group that would stage numerous protests against the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, whom critics blamed for the death of his political archrival.

ATOM, of course, took its name from the date that his brother was assassinated on the tarmac of what was then the Manila International Airport.

The group was a key force in the so-called parliament of the streets. The movement eventually led to the ouster of Marcos through the People Power Revolution of 1986, which installed his sister-in-law, Corazon Aquino, in Malacañan.

Butz Aquino himself would continue take on a more active in politics, getting himself elected to the Senate for two terms and then to the House for three terms.

After that he retired from politics, though not entirely from public view, as he appeared in two movies, Palos in 2008 and I Heart You Pare in 2011.

On the afternoon of Monday (August 17), he took his final bow at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, where he had been confined.

One of his nephews, Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, emailed an announcement to media, which he also posted on his Facebook timeline:

"Former Sen. Butz Aquino passed away this afternoon due to natural causes. He will be remembered for his bravery and leadership during the martial law days leading to People Power. He worked tirelessly until his final days supporting the cooperative movement. He was my favorite Ninong, always kind and supportive. He brought joy, happiness and laughter to those around him. He will be missed by his loved ones and comrades."

He is survived by his wife Popsy Mendez Aquino and children — Jacqueline Suzanne Aquino Gavino (also a former actress known as Jackie Aquino), Roxanne, and Roberto.

Palace statement

From Malacañan, where another nephew of the late senator, President Benigno Aquino III, holds office, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, issued the following statement:

"Today, the Filipino people lost a committed public servant. Agapito “Butz” Aquino had originally chosen a quiet life as an entrepreneur, but in the face of the dictatorship’s tyranny, he became one of the frontline fighters for the restoration of our democracy.

"A prime mover in the formation of ATOM – the August 21 Movement – and BANDILA – or Bansang Nagkakaisa sa Diwa at Layunin – he played a prominent role in the parliament of the streets that fought the dictatorship’s bayonets, truncheons, and tear gas with peaceful non-violent assemblies, yellow confetti, and ati-atihan drums.

"This road to reclaiming democracy by way of democracy, as his sister-in-law Cory Aquino put it, was crystalized in the decision Butz Aquino made to be the first public figure to ask Filipinos from all walks of life to gather at the Isetann Department Store and provide civilian protection to those elements of the Armed Forces and Constabulary that had decided to go against the dictatorship.

"His call was followed by Jaime Cardinal Sin’s exhortation to the people and the miracle of EDSA.

"He was then called to public service in the Senate – where he became an advocate of cooperatives and the interests of small farmers – and, subsequently, in the House of Representatives.

"He was known for his optimism, his wit, and his steadfast dedication to the ideals of his brother Ninoy and sister-in-law Cory. We know that in this time of grief and loss for his family, the Filipino people will take his loved ones into their warm and grateful embrace."