Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ninoy 31st Death Anniversary

Today, 21 August 2014, is the 31st death anniversary of Benigno Simeon "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.

  1. Ninoy Aquino Day is a national non-working holiday in the Philippines observed annually on August 21, commemorating the assassination of former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. Unlike other dates reserved for national heroes of the Philippines (like Bonifacio Day, Rizal Day, Araw ng Kagitingan, and National Heroes Day), the date is not a "regular holiday" but only a "non-working holiday".
  2. Ninoy Aquino Day was formally instituted upon the passage of Republic Act No. 9256 and was to be observed every August 21 (the anniversary of Aquino's death). However, upon the prerogative of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the observance of this holiday became day-dependent (like non-official celebrations such as Mother's Day and Father's Day)—to be celebrated on the "Monday nearest August 21" every year—as part of her controversial 'holiday economics' philosophy as reflected in Republic Act No. 9492. The celebration has since been reverted to August 21 by orders of incumbent President Benigno Aquino III.
  3. He was the husband of Corazon Aquino, who was later to become Philippine President; they are treated as two of the heroes of democracy in the country. His assassination led to the downfall of Ferdinand Marcos on February 25, 1986, through the People Power Revolution. 
  4. While no Filipino president has ever been assassinated, Benigno Aquino is one of three presidential spouses who have been murdered. Aurora Quezon was killed along with her daughter and son-in-law in a Hukbalahap ambush in 1949, while Alicia Syquia-Quirino was murdered by the Japanese along with three of her children during the Battle of Manila in 1945.
  5. In 1987, Manila International Airport, where the assassination occurred, was renamed "Ninoy Aquino International Airport" in Aquino's honor.
  6. "For one Aquino, who passed away, who got assassinated, they produced two presidents." (Jose Ampeso who played a role in that epochal juncture of Philippine history but kept it a secret for 20 years. Ampeso, then the Vice Consul at the Philippine Consulate in New Orleans, would disclose his closely-guarded secret two decades after, when it could no longer threaten his life: He was the US-based Filipino diplomat who issued two passports to Ninoy and enabled the then anti-Marcos opposition leader to return to the country.) Ninoy actually had two passports—one was fake and it contained his real name, and other one was a real passport containing the pseudonym “Marcial Bonifacio.”  “Marcial” was for martial law and “Bonifacio” is the name of the place where he was imprisoned.
  7. Ninoy Aquino was aboard China Airlines Flight 811 (CAL flight 811) when it touched down at what was then the Manila International Airport hours before he was assassinated.
  8. Aquino’s security group was composed of five men: Technical Sgt. Claro Lat, Corporal Rogelio Moreno, Sgt. Arnulfo de Mesa, Corporal Lazaga, and Lieutenant Castro. They were the officers who were supposed to escort Ninoy from the plane to Fort Bonifacio, where he would be detained. Eleven seconds had elapsed from the moment Ninoy stepped out of the airplane door to the sound of the first gunshot (at 01:15 p.m.). As Ninoy and the 5 men walked out of the door, numerous voices were heard as saying, “Ako na! Ako na! Ako na!” and “Pusila!” (Pusila, in a southern Filipino dialect is an order to shoot). The voices reportedly came from Ninoy’s security team, which they later denied. Cpl. Moreno, who walked a few feet behind Aquino as he descended the stairs, was later convicted as the person who shot Ninoy. This group would later be called the “The 5 Wise Monkeys” because in the investigation, they “Saw nothing, heard nothing, said nothing.”
  9. A .357 Magnum was allegedly used to murder Ninoy Aquino. He was shot at a distance of about  18 inches.  The bullet entered Ninoy’s nape and exited his chin. Investigations later showed that the shooter was directly a few feet above Ninoy and not level as was earlier suggested. Reportedly, there were two .357 with the same serial numbers. Interestingly, one was owned by  Col. Octavio Alvarez, the former chief of the Metrocom Intelligence Group—it was reportedly stolen from him.
  10. The man who supposedly shot Ninoy had the word “Rolly” embroidered on the waistband of his underpants and an “R” engraved inside his gold wedding ring. Nine days after the assassination, “Rolly” was finally revealed to be Rolando Galman. He was officially described as a “notorious killer and gun for hire.” It was later reported that Galman had been supposedly taken from his home four days before Aquino’s murder. Two days after Aquino’s murder, Galman’s common-law wife Lina was taken by several armed men. She was never heard of again.
  11. Roberto Olaguer, a chaplain who visited the inmates at the New Bilibid Prison would later reveal details about what he learned from Sgt. Pablo Martinez, one of the men convicted of Ninoy’s murder. Martinez reportedly was recruited by Col. Romeo Ochoco, then deputy head of AVSECOM (Aviation Security Command). Martinez was introduced to Rolando Galman and was told to make sure Galman kills Ninoy, otherwise, kill Ninoy and shoot Galman as well. Since Martinez had access to the airport, it was easy for him to smuggle Galman into the tarmac. Sgt. Martinez would later implicate Ninoy’s cousin-in-law Danding Cojuangco, but it was never proven. Martinez was later killed in a hit-and-run incident this year, 2014. He was hit by an SUV.
  12. Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday received the Ninoy Aquino Memorial Medal of Valor award from the Ninoy Aquino Movement (NAM). On the 31st death anniversary of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Binay urged “comrades in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship” to fight moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.


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