Ninoy’s 30th: The power of one
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When he looks back at Aug. 21, 1983, President Aquino sees not only the tragic loss of his father. He also sees “the power of one.”

“I remember CNN had this ad, ‘The Power of One.’ When I look at Aug. 21, my dad’s fight against the martial law regime, it really was, as some would say, David vs. Goliath,” the President said in an interview for PeopleAsia magazine on the 30th death anniversary of his father and namesake, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

The main difference, Aquino said, was that the Biblical David “at least had a sling and was free to move around.”

His father, who was imprisoned for seven years and seven months, was not as fortunate.

“Still, he overcame the giant,” the President said during the interview held in a function room at Malacañang, not far from where the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos once held office. The Aquino family holds Marcos responsible for Ninoy’s incarceration and assassination.

“So somehow, that CNN ad resonated with me,” he added. “It was my mom who said something like, ‘Courage, like cowardice, is infectious’.”

Ninoy’s assassination 30 years ago is widely seen as the spark that ignited the bloodless people power revolution in 1986 that led to the ouster of Marcos and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.


Hoping for the truth

Former President Corazon Aquino was hoping till the end that the soldiers convicted for her husband’s assassination at the Manila International Airport 30 years ago would express remorse and shed more light on the dastardly crime.

No court has pointed to the mastermind of the murder.

In an unpublished interview this writer had with Mrs. Aquino in early 2008, the former president, then already with colon cancer, said that she was also still hoping the soldiers would tell the truth.

“I was really hoping that at least they would express remorse. Yes, they said before the media that they felt sorry for me and my children, but they were still claiming that it was (Rolando) Galman and not they. So that’s what hurts. To this day, they don’t want to own up to the truth,” she said.

“I know that God wants me to forgive, so I’ve forgiven them. But I was still hoping that maybe one of them would say something,” Mrs. Aquino, who died a year later on Aug. 1, 2009, said.

She said she believed it was Marcos who ordered the assassination of Ninoy. This was reiterated by her eldest daughter Ballsy Cruz, in a documentary on Ninoy to be aired this week by the History Channel.

“I just thought of him (Marcos) as the number one guy, who could order anybody and everybody around,” she said.

Mrs. Aquino said she didn’t believe reports that the strongman was sick and therefore not in control at the time of the assassination.

“I don’t believe that he was sick. Of course, we have reports that said it was just a cover-up,” she disclosed.

When told that a former close adviser of hers was supporting the pardon of the soldiers, a serene Mrs. Aquino simply said, “Well, I don’t have control over that. To each his own. My lawyers also explained to me that after a certain amount of time, they are entitled to pardon. Yes, they have suffered also,” she said.

Fifteen soldiers were convicted in the killing of Ninoy and his alleged communist assassin Rolando Galman. They were convicted of double murder in September 1990, along with their commander, Brig. Gen. Luther Custodio, former Aviation Security Command chief. Custodio died of cancer before the promulgation of his sentence.

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