By Eduardo D. Simafrania
TODAY is a nonworking special holiday to
commemorate the death anniversary of one of the nation’s heroes,
Ninoy Aquino. He was shot in the head on August 21, 1983, by
government soldiers as they escorted him down the steps of an
airplane at the Manila International Airport (now renamed after him)
in Pasay City.
At the time, Aquino was coming home from the
United States after years of exile. It was a gruesome murder that
shook the whole world.
The bullet’s trajectory pierced one of his
eyes from the back of his head. The wake later held at the Santo
Domingo Church in Quezon City saw a mammoth crowd so much in grief
over the loss of a people’s hero. The funeral drew one of the
biggest crowds in Philippine history. It portended the coming of
another big event—the EDSA People Power revolt in February
1986—which brought the downfall of President Ferdinand Marcos
under whose repressive administration the Aquino assassination took
The Aquino tragedy brought another unpleasant
memory—the bombing of Plaza Miranda in 1971. Quite interesting is
that the Plaza Miranda bombing and the Aquino murder happened on the
same date, August 21. I do not want to quarrel with the so-called
academicians in our educational system who seem to advocate sex
education in our public schools more than underscoring the
watersheds of our history as a people.
The Plaza Miranda incident refers to the bombing
of the Liberal Party miting de avance during the 1971 senatorial
election campaign. Marcos blamed the communists for masterminding
the bombing and suspended the writ of habeas corpus. At the time,
many people suspected the late dictator as the mastermind of the
Aquino killing for three reasons: to stop the scheduled exposé of
corruption in his government; to cripple the political opposition,
which was the LP; and to justify the crushing of the protest
It was later hypothesized, however, that the
death of Aquino could not have been the handiwork of Marcos since,
according to analysts, the dictator would have made Aquino a hero if
he had ordered the killing. That the communists were the culprit in
the bombing was advanced as a more credible theory.
The kleptocracy and dictatorial tendencies,
which had characterized the Marcos regime in the 1970s to the 1980s,
are still very much evident today. The so-called Marcosian
tendencies were exemplified in a number of presidential decrees
issued during martial law, some of which were illegal per se. This
is the trend now and will continue forever unless government
functionaries turn around 180 degrees and the military generals give
up their power. Our nation is treading on dangerous ground because
the military will never yield their power, which they have continued
to wield since the time of Marcos.
For all of us, the death of Ninoy Aquino is
worth commemorating. Let us ponder on its political significance.
After that tragic event, we were given so much opportunity to change
ourselves for the better only to be spoiled by the crooks and
politicians who refused to change. They have prevented Cory Aquino,
Ninoy’s widow who later became president, to change the political
landscape and blocked the implementation of fresh advocacies. To
paraphrase a saying, crooks with their chicanery never die, they
just fade away.
The political will of every freedom-loving
Filipino was shown when they staged the People Power revolt. It was
a Filipino invention that brought down a corrupt regime. Many
countries learned from us by holding their own people power
revolution to eliminate ruling dictators and bring about drastic
economic and political reforms . . .
Eduardo D. Simafrania is a recent graduate of the
School of The Manila Times