Remembering The Aquino Assassination, And The Plaza Miranda Bombing
Unmanly as it may seem, I confess a feeling of trepidation as my mind’s eye gives me a replay of two singular events in our contemporary political history which came 12 years apart but left wounds in our consciousness that have yet to heal.
Here’s how the news accounts went:
The Ninoy Aquino Assassination -August 21, 1983:
Despite a convoy of security guards (all assigned to him by the Marcos government), a contingent of 1,200 military and police personnel on the tarmac, three armed bodyguards personally escorting him, and a bulletproof vest Aquino was wearing, Aquino was fatally shot in the head as he was escorted off the airplane. From the airplane, aviation security personnel were seen firing into the body of an unknown man dressed in blue, who was identified as Rolando Galman. Aquino’s body was quickly loaded into a van and sped away.
The Plaza Miranda Bombing -August 21, 1971:
A crowd of about 4,000 had gathered in the Plaza Miranda, a popular political forum in the heart of downtown Manila’s shopping and business district. They had turned out to hear speeches by Liberal Party candidates for Manila’s mayoralty and for eight of the country’s 24 Senate seats. It was a festive occasion; balloons floated through the evening air and spectators waved fans printed with the candidates’ names and slogans. The makeshift stage, built with old kerosene drums and boards, was crammed with Liberal Party officials, the smiling candidates and their wives.
Just as the ceremonies were to begin, two hand-grenade blasts ripped apart the speakers’ platform. The explosions brought instant death to eight spectators clustered near the platform, including a five-year-old child and Manila Times Photographer Ben Roxas. Virtually everyone on the stage was injured, including incumbent Senator Jovito Salonga, who is running for reelection; Liberal Party
President Geraldo Roxas; and the Liberal Party’s 1969 presidential candidate, Senator Sergio Osmeria Jr., who received critical head and chest wounds. President Ferdinand Marcos termed the bombing “a national tragedy.” Who had caused the tragedy? Police believed that the hand grenades had been thrown by “leftist radicals” they had earlier noticed in the crowd.
The saddest footnote to these two events perhaps is the reality that till now the crimes are ‘unclosed.”
Unclosed because while the supposed killers of Aquino have been pardoned, and as the country looks ahead to new elections 10 months from now, Filipinos are not convinced the guilty have been punished nor do have a clear choice among the ‘Moses’ jockeying to lead us out our ‘Egypt’ alongside lingering fears o one man-rule returning.
Again my apologies for being in a state of alarm, and dread.