Philippine tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. dies at 85

Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.

Eduardo Murphy “Danding” Cojuangco, who rebuilt San Miguel Corporation (SMC)— one of the largest business empires in the Philippines, died on Tuesday. He was 85.

Philippine news outlets reported on Wednesday that Cojuangco died of cancer and battled other illnesses as well.

Cojuangco was the first cousin of former president Corazon Aquino who was one of the prominent figures of the 1986 People Power Revolution which ended the 20-year rule of his ally, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. He was also the uncle of ex-Philippine leader Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

He survived a political exile and regained and revived the country’s largest food-and-beverage maker in the 19th century.

During his stint as the conglomerate’s second leader, SMC expanded into taking over the Coca Cola franchise in the country, Australia-based National Foods, alongside other businesses.

In 2008, the company announced expansion plans into the energy sector on optimism that the latter had great potential.

Cojuangco was born to a family that controlled business and politics in the province of Tarlac.

According to “Boss Danding,” a 2003 biography, Cojuangco lost a bid for a seat in the Philippine congress, prompting him to cement ties with Marcos. He was part of the inner circle that helped Marcos plan the imposition of martial law.

He was also the founder of political party National People’s Coalition, ran for president in 1992 but lost to retired general Fidel V. Ramos. He came in third behind late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

He also served as governor of his home province Tarlac in the late 1960s.

Cojuangco was a staunch supporter of basketball in the Philippines, owning three teams in the Philippine Basketball Association, the San Miguel Beermen, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, and Star Hotshots.

Palace mourns Cojuangco’s death

In a statement, Malacanang on Wednesday conveyed its condolences to the family and friends of Cojuangco.

Through Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Malacanang offered prayers for Cojuangco.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr,” Roque said in a statement.

“The Palace offers its fervent prayers for the eternal repose of the soul of Mr Cojuangco as we convey our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues, friends, and loved ones,” he said.

Malacanang hailed SMC’s contributions to the development of the Philippines.

“In these trying times, Mr Cojuangco’s SMC has been a reliable partner of the government in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) by providing support and assistance to front-liners and vulnerable sectors,” Roque said.

Cojuangco is the 16th richest man in the Philippines in 2019 with a net worth of $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.