• Reading time:7 mins read

Ninoy did not expose the “Jabidah massacre,” he even doubted it

Aquino delivering a privileged speech at the Senate

The Manila Times, March 19, 2013

The “Jabidah Question”: First of Three Parts

Contrary to many accounts, senator Benigno Aquino Jr. did not expose the so-called “Jabidah massacre” 45 years ago today, which the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) exploited to the hilt to rally Muslims to its secessionist cause.

What he revealed to the world, and asked for a stop to, was the clandestine plan of his archenemy president Ferdinand Marcos to train and send Muslim commandos to Sabah to organize a revolt against Malaysia, the first step for the Philippines to take over the territory.

This conclusion is incontrovertible based on the late senator’s privileged speech on March 28, 1968 titled: “Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil?”

The speech is posted at the archives section of the official government website and at my personal website as an annex to this column.

That there was a Jabidah massacre has been mostly uncritically believed, as indicated in the following Wikipedia entry:

“The Jabidah massacre . . . refers to an incident in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits who were escaping their covert training to reclaim Sabah . . . It is widely regarded as having been the catalyst behind the modern Moro insurgencies in the Southern Philippines.”

The entry continued: “Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and some sources assert that the massacre is a myth.” The “some sources” it referred to consist solely of University of the Philippines anthropologist Arnold Molina Azurin who investigated the episode intensively in his book, Beyond the Cult of Dissidence.

For starters, the Jabidah issue broke out after Cavite governor Delfin Montano, one of Marcos’ most vociferous critic, had one Jibin Arula file charges at the Cavite Court of First Instance against major Eduardo Martelino and 10 other army officers and soldiers whom he alleged were involved in the purported atrocity. Arula would be the sole person ever to allege that he witnessed the massacre.

Arula claimed that with about a dozen of his fellow Muslim trainees, he was ordered to line up at the airstrip in Corregidor in the wee hours of March 18, 1968, and then shot by their trainers. He claimed that he was hit in the leg, so he managed to run, hide in the bushes, and then escape to the sea to be rescued hours later by fishermen.

The allegations became the burning issue, with the two major newspapers at that time, both stridently anti-Marcos, The Manila Times and The Manila Chronicle, portraying Arula as a hero. A congressional investigation was undertaken, which months later would turn out to be inconclusive.

Then congressman Rashid Lucman of Lanao del Sur claimed that the massacre was motivated by Marcos’ greed to claim Sabah for his personal property. Lucman months later would organize the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization, the MNLF’s precursor, and get Malaysia to secretly train its recruits. Aquino though didn’t jump in to demonize Marcos over the alleged massacre. He did not only go to Jolo and Tawi-tawi to seek out the alleged victims’ relatives but interviewed Arula himself. Aquino in his speech concluded:

“After interviewing the self-asserted massacre survivor, Jibin Arula, doubt nagged me that there had indeed been a massacre . . .”

Aquino explained his thesis (note his use of quotations, presumably on the official copy of his speech):

“Arula must have made a dash for his life, thinking that they had been brought to the airstrip for the ‘slaughter.’ Told to halt by his escorts, he kept running. His escorts shot him in the leg to force him to stop. He kept going—and the rest is his story. But what happened to his eleven companions? Were they really ‘ massacred?’”

Aquino went on: “Some say that when the firing started with Arula, his companions ducked. So that Arula was correct when he said that he saw his companions fall to the ground. But were they shot? Or did they duck because of the firing?”

The alleged “slaughter” Aquino referred to was Arula’s claim that he had suspected that 24 recruits who left two days earlier, whom their military superiors said were being brought to Sulu to be deployed to Sabah, were actually killed. But Aquino pointed out: “Meanwhile, in Jolo yesterday, I met the first batch of 24 recruits aboard RP- 68. This group was earlier reported missing— or, even worse, believed ‘ massacred’ . . . William Patarasa, 16 years old [ one of the recruits] denied knowledge of any massacre.”

Aquino in his speech elaborated his view (emphasis mine): “This morning, The Manila Times, in its banner headline, quoted me as saying that I believed there was no massacre on Corregidor. And I submit it was not a hasty conclusion, but one borne out by careful deductions.”

What were these deductions? According to Aquino:

• “What would have been the motive for the ‘massacre’? Some quarters have advanced the theory that the trainees were liquidated in order to silence them. But then, 24 boys have already shown up in Jolo safe and healthy. To release 24 men who can spill the beans and liquidate the remaining 24 ‘to seal’ their lips would defy logic.”

• “Arula’s fears, which in his place may be considered valid, may not be supported by the recent turn of events. Twenty-four recruits have turned up.”

Aquino emphasized that only a rigorous investigation of Arula’s allegations would arrive at the truth. He asked the military to “produce the eleven recruits” the lone survivor allegedly killed.

But if the eleven merely resigned and like the first twenty four returned to Sulu, or even deployed to Sabah, could the military have traced them and asked them to testify? Indeed, one of the strangest aspects of the alleged “massacre” was that through 45 years, there hasn’t even one victim’s relative who has surfaced to condemn the purported killing.

So what was Aquino’s speech all about? Only 1,123, or 20 percent, of Aquino’s 5,734word speech, discussed the alleged massacre.

The biggest part of his speech exposed details regarding the Jabidah plan he boasted he uncovered through his investigation and disclosures by his moles in the country’s intelligence services.

“It is the codename for a supposedly super-secret, twin-goaled operation of president Marcos to wipe out the opposition . . .—literally, if need be—in 1969 and to set this country on a high foreign adventure,” Aquino said in his speech. While carefully not mentioning Sabah Aquino said: Jabidah “is the codename for Mr. Marcos’ special operation to . . . achieve territorial gains.”

Malaysia’ prime minister at that time, Tunku Abdul Rahman, probably called for a secret national celebration after Aquino’s speech. From then on Marcos scuttled all plans, militarily or diplomatically, to claim Sabah. No wonder his son 45 years later would also be a de facto Malaysian spokesman condemning Filipino Muslims’ effort to draw international attention to our Sabah claim.

Next week, we evaluate if the Jabidah episode was an atrocity, or one of the most successful propaganda coup in our history.

* * *

I’ve decided to name this column “Counterintuitive,” to give it an identity. The word is in the same conceptual family as “contrarian” or “against the tide.” It is the opposite of “common sense,” “conventional” and “orthodox.”

Readers of this column certainly would not be surprised over the choice. My favorite quote that uses counterintuitive is by philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett: “Any theory that makes progress is bound to be counterintuitive.”

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Ge Y

    So I have a question, about the families of those recruits. How come none, not one family member forward looking for their sons?

  2. nàni felipe

    I dont even know. My father is 86 years old, he was a soldier. He lives with pride and honor. And he always tell me that Marcos is actually a victim. He was known to be evil. But for those who had been to battle, he is JUST. Soldiers are full of principles. They are true to their words.

  3. GodIsGood

    Ninoy Aquino was just like his father, Benigno Aquino Sr. Let us all remember that Benigno Aquino Sr. was the Senate President of the Japanese puppet government during WWII where he sided with the Japanese and ordered Filipino guerillas killed. He was later convicted of treason. He would murder fellow Filipinos for ambition. Ninoy Aquino, on the other hand, had to collabarate with an organized group, the NPAs, as that was the only way for him to gain more power to fight Marcos. The # of NPAs in his hometown Tarlac drastically increased at that time. Plaza Miranda bombing: Ninoy Aquino was not chosen by his partymates to become the next presidential candidate. During the time of the proclamation and the bombing where his partymates were iinjure on stage, he was the only one not present. He arrived a few minutes after the bombing.

  4. edwardo serrano

    ninoy was not in jailed during marcos time, marcos did actually saved him for a death penalty after shooting a person, who would say he was jailed??? he was safe somewhere inside the phil. army compound, not in jail and turned out to be a medical place, the family, Media and alot of people who was againts marcos would say he was in jail, he has a special treatment over that place with a lot of guards to make him safe, and flew to USA!

    1. maria santos

      And when he flew to the US, he destroyed the reputation of Marcos by speaking ills about him and his government despite the generosity and kindness accorded to him. Of course, he wanted Pinoys in the US to believe him and win their hearts because he wanted to be the next president ! Selfish ambition !

  5. jean espina

    Ninoy indeed organized the NPA w Commdr Dante alias Bernabe Buscayno (family driver) heading it…as for Nur Misuari, he wanted to join the Communist Party but was discouraged by fellow UP schoolmate, Joma Sison and was told to organize instead the MNLF.

    1. maria santos

      And Nur Misuari joined Marcos to help the government. See Marcos speech in US – youtube.

  6. Bodik Baniqued

    ..and that has always been OUR challenge to this Government and its military. To finally “de-clasify” the JABIDAH files and set the record straight.
    The questionable reputation of the one sharing his tall tale lies who swam through shark infested waters is absurd.

    Let’s give closure to this matter.
    Our fathers are mostly, if not all dead and for God’s sake give them justice as well.
    Ninoy is not the only Filipino here and I have witnessed my father to his last breath that he is indeed a true nationalist and a true Filipino.

    They served hard and worked hard to protect us as a people in a time where the military can really be considered as “officers and gentlemen” and it is but proper that we honor them by giving the people their share of the TRUTH even if it would reveal something which we may not eventually appreciate! Let the people know!

  7. Ben

    The military was too late to execute the massacre. In my opinion, Aquino was very aggressive to expose the secret military operations to Sabah, perhaps to draw ASEAN recognition on his obsession and selfish ambition to become the Philippine President. If Aquino is successful in the expose’ he will gain the friendship of the Malaysian PM during that time and definitely absorb political mileage even this will result to the lose of Philippine Government. Aquino being a skilled public speaker made the filipino believe that he did the right thing but adverse to the reality that we lost SABAH because of his shit filibuster.

    Perhaps, the people who initiated the massacre must be coming from the Marcos opposition and they just made an expose’ and twist so that the blame will be pointed to Pres. Marcos.

    Taksil ang yellow fin… God is Good He know very well that if the yellow fin become a president this Country would have been sent to the dogs.

    1. christine delacruz

      Marcos was evil, where”s the cocoplanter’s money now? my grandmother use to have the receipts when we were kids.every 100kls of copra,the marcos gov will get 100peso( before martial law and turnout to be 500pesos during martial law) and now what benifit do the coconut planters get in purchasing san miguel corp?
      i believe Ninoy’s motives on jabidah.

      1. Rolando A.Baconguis

        Basahin mo ang ruling ng Supreme court tungkul sa kaso ng Coco levy fund. Nasa kasalukuyang goberno na ang bola. Puwidi doon karen mag tanong.

      2. Alex

        Baka puwede mo itanong din kay tito danding? Pero mas maigi na nga sa SC ka na magtanong or dumiretso ka sa BS Aquino gov’t.

      3. ulysses orracab

        hindi kay Marcos napunta yun. magsaliksik ka pa. kung nagmamadali ka puntahan mo tito ni noynoy. sa kanya mo itanong.

  8. javier evasco

    The late Senator Ninoy Aquino is so intelligent to know not what he is doing. His detractors thought that he is a communist, but when he was jailed during the Martial Law he turned himself into the hand and mercy of God Almighty.

    1. ulysses orracab

      un nga…galing nyang mag artista

  9. richard gallardo

    even just a slightest hint is enough to alert anybody about something that is going on or about to happen. that hint led to the massacre itself as the malaysian government immediately made a preemptive measures to spoil the attempt.

    one need not say it point blank or directly. as the saying goes: “ang apoy nagsisimula sa usok.”

    ergo, it was an expose that cost so many lives and spoil an attempt by the country to retake sabah.

    1. maria santos

      of course, anything that Marcos would for the good of the country would be opposed by Aquino who wanted to discredit Marcos simply because he wanted to be the next president.

  10. lito miranda

    Tha question is, if you love your countrymen you have to protect the secrecy and spill it to make you famous, and what’s wrong to reclaim it ours, that’s why up to now Malaysian govt still paying.

  11. dupong santos

    ustu ca quen abe, bendisyunan na ca ning malugud a Guino. Maski tacpan me ing katutuan singu ya pamu rin.



    1. Rigoberto Tiglao

      His son, several times including his speech 18 March 2013 in the commemoration of teh event (this is posted at gov.ph) as well as his spokesmen several times:
      “Ika-28 ng Marso 1968, nang magtalumpati sa Senado ang aking ama ukol sa pangyayaring kinikilala ng kasaysayan bilang Jabidah Massacre. “


    The Malaysians, British and Americans would not have found out about the secret plan of the AFP to re-take Sabah (what is rightfully ours) if it were not for the expose of Ninoy. As a result, the AFP lost the element of surprise and many Filipinos, who were part of Operation Merdeka who were already in Sabah, were killed by the Malaysians.

    1. owenn13

      So why everyone calls him a HERO?

      1. nel

        hero of all filipino traitors!

        1. maria santos

          Hero by accident nabaril lang cya.. bumalik sa Pinas because of his ulterior personal motive to be the next president, but God did not allow him. Ang name nya sa passport ay Marcial Bonifacio. Fake name alias name for what reason? Where is the truth if he was clinging to the truth.

Comments are closed.