EACH year since Benigno Aquino 3rd stepped down from power, the commemoration of his father’s death is becoming more and more pathetic, with the crowd the other day at Ninoy’s tomb not even reaching a hundred.
This holiday really should be canceled, if only to spare Ninoy and his family the storm of insults — e.g., “Happy traitor’s day,” “Ninoy died. So what?” — he gets in social media every August 21.
What demonstrated this year that the Yellow Cult is all but extinct is that no high Liberal Party leader and others who profited from Noynoy’s rule were there: no Franklin Drilon, no Francis Pangilinan, no Edsel Lagman, no Risa Hontiveros. Antonio Trillanes 4th, a Nacionalista was there, to his credit, in gratitude to the Yellows for making him, a bungling coup leader, a senator for 12 years.
The only Liberal Party leader there was Mar Roxas, who didn’t even wear yellow to the occasion, didn’t bother to give a speech, and spent his time wearing his “What-me-worry smile.”
Going by the event yesterday, it is the has-been “Queen of All Media” Kris Aquino who is now the leader of the Yellow Cult. She dominated the affair, and even threatened those who criticize her brother: “Tigilan na ninyo siya. Kung hindi, ako ang makakatapat niyo.”
It was her brother, however, who made the event news, or rather his failure to attend the rites, with Kris going on her favorite “mysterious” tack of not revealing what he was sick of. Aquino had to issue a statement the following day that he was merely down with the flu. But why didn’t Kris say so in the first place?
Hypocrites. For all the public tears they’ve shed and their supposed anger at Ninoy’s gruesome murder, the Yellows haven’t really cared to bring the crime’s brains to justice. Not his wife Cory, not his wife’s anointed Fidel Ramos, not Noynoy Aquino — the three presidents in the post-EDSA era who had the greatest political power and resources at their disposal.
How difficult would it have been to form a crack team of investigators — even aided by proud investigative journalists — to determine who executed the murder, and who were the masterminds?
I haven’t heard Kris nor her sisters, nor Bam Aquino nor any Yellow leader calling for a “closure” on the murder of Ninoy that resulted in the country’s having Cory, Ramos and Noynoy as the presidents that dominated our post-EDSA era.
Noynoy is known to be vengeful against those who have slighted him in the most minor manner. This trait certainly was absent in his nonchalance toward his father’s murderers. He did nothing, said nothing to show that he was interested in finding out.
The highest-ranking officer convicted for the crime was Aviation Security Command Gen. Luther Custodio, who died of cancer in 1991. The rest of those convicted consisted of one captain, one lieutenant and 13 enlisted men.
The investigation and legal proceedings at the Sandiganbayan that led to the September 1990 conviction of these 16 military men were all undertaken at the height of Cory’s popularity and power. She could have left no stone unturned to identify and bring to justice her husband’s real killers: the person or the group of persons who ordered the assassination.
What kind of nation are we to fool ourselves that these military men acted on their own, and that there were no powerful figures who ordered them to undertake an operation perfectly executed, without a single witness, even with a phalanx of foreign correspondents accompanying Ninoy?
The masterminds of the assassination don’t seem to have been idle, and have been determined to forever erase all signs of the evil deed that could lead to them.
In 2014, during Noynoy’s term, Master Sgt. Pablo Martinez — one of those convicted for Ninoy’s murder — was killed in what initially appeared to be an accident along Roxas Boulevard.
An eyewitness claimed that an SUV Montero driven by one Henry Roque ran over him after he fell from his bicycle which the vehicle bumped. The police initially concluded that it was purely an unfortunate accident. His son, Diomedes, an Air Force sergeant, however, claimed he was murdered. Police, however, could not find Roque after he was released on bail.
Who is Martinez? He was convicted as one of the conspirators in Aquino’s assassination and had served nearly 30 years in jail for the crime. Since his release in 2007, Martinez had been volunteering to disclose the brains of the murder.
In 1995, he admitted his role in the plot, and testified that it was Galman who killed Ninoy with a single bullet to the head. He said it was he who escorted Galman to a motel to spend the night before the assassination.
Martinez alleged that former Philippine Constabulary Major Romeo Gatan, a businessman named Hermilo Gosuico, former Air Force Col. Romeo Ochoco, and Air Force Capt. Felipe Valerio were in that hotel to tell Rolando Galman what he would do the next day. The other 11 officers and soldiers made up the team that allowed Galman to get close to and shoot Aquino in the head, after which they gunned him down.
Martinez’s earth-shaking testimony was first narrated in a February 2006 article in the US-based Time magazine and in an on-camera interview in 2007 with ABS-CBN’s Julius Babao right after his release from prison:
“I didn’t hear any direct order from him, but I asked them [the conspirators in the hotel] who was giving them the orders, and they replied, ‘Danding.’”
He was referring to oligarch Eduardo Cojuangco who had controlled until 2012 the conglomerate San Miguel Corp. Martinez’s claims were recorded in a formal deposition and submitted to the Supreme Court, which had been asked to reopen the case. The high court ruled, however, that it didn’t qualify as “newly found evidence.”
Cojuangco has vehemently denied such accusations.
“Valerio is among those who might be able to shed light, but to me, it’s Ochoco whom the government should ask because he was the one who ordered me to bring Galman to the airport,” Martinez said in 2007.
Captain Valerio was the head of the 10-man team of the Aviation Security Command who collected Aquino from the China Airlines plane and brought him down to the airport’s tarmac, where the former senator and then Galman were shot dead. Valerio and his immediate superior Air Force Colonel Ochoco disappeared right after Marcos’ fall in 1986.
Valerio was not included among the 16 convicted or the other 18 accused who were acquitted since he could not be arraigned, as he could not be found and arrested. He was reported to be living in the US.
Ochoco, for some reason was also not indicted, and is reported to be living in Australia.
The Yellows who had ruled for 18 years had done absolutely nothing to get in touch with Martinez when he was alive or talk to the other 10 officers and soldiers convicted of the crime to convince them that they would be placed under their protection if they told everything they knew about the assassination.
One would have thought Ninoy’s only son would use all the resources at his command as president not just to seek justice for his father, and to shed light on what is one of the most ruthless and pivotal killings in our nation’s history. Noynoy didn’t. Removing Renato Corona as Chief Justice and putting in jail his predecessor Gloria Arroyo was more important to him.
The Aquinos and the Yellows’ lack of concern over Ninoy’s murder convinces me that either there is something deeply wrong with them, or that there is something terribly embarrassing in the assassination that it has to be kept secret that even the victim’s powerful family has refused to uncover its mastermind.
If it was Marcos who was the mastermind, as their propagandists claimed, why didn’t the Yellows conclusively prove so? That would have certainly been Exhibit A of their claim that Marcos is the devil incarnate.
One interpretation is that if she had pursued Cojuangco for the crime, the oligarch could have joined and funded the many coup attempts against her rule, and that she chose to sacrifice her personal wish — to avenge her husband — for the sake of the country’s political stability. The son, however, certainly didn’t have such justification during his rule for his disinterest in finding out who ordered his father’s murder.
Another thesis is that it was the US “Deep State” that assassinated Aquino to pressure then President Ronald Reagan, who was very supportive of Marcos, to abandon his friend. America’s stakes indeed had become high, with US intelligence reports claiming that if Marcos continued in power, he would have polarized the country so much that the communists would have a window to seize power, just when the lease on their military bases were scheduled to expire in 1992.
But if Cory said a word about that suspicion, would the US have helped her, in 1989 even sending in their Phantom jets over Manila’s airspace, to stop the Enrile-Honasan coup attempts during her rule?
I tend to believe this thesis for one reason: What group in this entire world in 1983 had such skill to kill such a high-profile person with a single bullet, in broad daylight with international media even positioned to protect him?
I hope in our lifetimes — perhaps helped by some massive leak of CIA files — this yawning lacuna in our nation’s history will be filled.