By Democrito C. Barcenas
Aug. 21, 1983 is a historic and unforgettable day in the country’s history. After years of self-exile in the US, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. returned to the Philippines to seek national reconciliation. Upon arrival at the Manila International Airport, he was shot dead at the tarmac by the Marcos military.
The Aquino assassination sparked nationwide protests that culminated in the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. His brutal murder accelerated the process of national outrage brought about by the Marcos-Romualdez kleptocracy known for its inordinate greed and unspeakable violations of human rights. Ninoy himself suffered more than seven years of solitary confinement in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
Aquino’s contribution to eventual national liberation cannot be ignored. In fact, an eminent US author, Stanley Karnow, ranks Ninoy at par with Jose Rizal in the pantheon of heroes.
He said: “The quintessential martyred hero Ninoy Aquino, ranks with Jose Rizal as the Philippine national messiah. His assassination like Rizal’s execution, accelerated rather than changed the country’s history. By 1896, when Rizal was shot, Filipinos had already turned against Spanish rule, and his death sparked open rebellion. Similarly, Filipinos had lost confidence in Marcos by 1983, and Ninoy’s murder crystallized the opposition. Both men thus kindled explosions that were awaiting a spark. (“In our Image,” by Stanley Karnow, 1988 Ed., p. 403).
Lately, a bill has been filed in the House to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
This regime has a bizarre sense of history when a martyred hero is demeaned but a dictator is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.