Tell it to SunStar: Missed opportunity to practice unity

·2 min read

It is not that I waited with bated breath for any statement from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the contemporary meaning of the death of Ninoy Aquino. But still, the absence of any official statement is disappointing.

Of course, we know that the death of the former senator marked the beginning of the end of the Marcos dictatorship. We know that the funeral procession of Ninoy, accompanied by two million brave souls, is often contrasted with the burial of Ferdinand Sr. which was shrouded in secrecy and deception. All these would make it doubly difficult for the son to exalt the heroism of the father’s nemesis. But Junior is now the President and it would have been magnanimous of him to say something positive about Ninoy.

Even former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose policies were the anti-thesis of libertarianism espoused by Ninoy, praised the heroism of Ninoy. Let us recall some of these statements. In 2019, Duterte issued a statement, part of which reads, “We remember Benigno S. Aquino and his important role in restoring our democratic institutions more than three decades ago. His sacrifice altered the course of our nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirit of heroism among our people.” In 2021, Duterte exhorted, “Let us honor his legacy by showing our capacity to sacrifice our personal interests for the common good...”

Junior would have proven himself a real classy statesman if he said something like, “Our families have a long history of conflicts but there is no denial of the heroism of Ninoy.” Or he could allude to Shakespeare and say, “What’s in a name? Ninoy would still be a hero even if his family name was not an Aquino.”

But Junior missed the chance to concretize what is so far a meaningless mantra on unity. Instead, trolls abound who cast doubts on the self-sacrifice of a genuine hero. Thus, who can blame those who think that the pitch on unity is nothing but an ideological tool, carrying a subliminal message that any opposition implies disunity?

Meanwhile, let me wait on what he will do with the case of Senator Leila de Lima, clearly a victim of political vendetta of the previous administration. This is possibly an even more significant chance to demonstrate the meaning of unity.