Did Ninoy mastermind assassination?
“Who killed Ninoy?”
That’s the title of Ma. Ceres Doyo’s “Human Face” column in the Inquirer last Thursday.
I interviewed former Air Force Sgt. Pablo Martinez several times when Vic Vinarao, my close friend, was director of the Bureau of Corrections.
Martinez, in all my interviews with him, said he and Col. Romeo Ochoco, deputy commander of the Aviation Security Group, knew about the plot to assassinate former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
Ninoy returned to the country on Aug. 23, 1983, from a self-imposed exile in the United States—purportedly to talk with President Ferdinand Marcos, his fraternity “brod” at Upsilon Sigma Phi—when he was shot dead at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport after his plane landed.
Martinez said all the other coaccused, who were convicted with him, were innocent.
Martinez pointed to Rolando Galman as the lone assassin.
He said it was he who provided Galman with the .357 magnum revolver used in killing Ninoy.
Interestingly, Martinez was run over by a truck while he was biking along Roxas Boulevard after he was released from prison on a pardon.
Now, this is what puzzles me up to this very day.
Why did Ninoy predict his own death at the airport? Why, oh, why was he so sure he would be shot after he landed at the MIA?
Let’s look back at the time he was aboard the plane from Taipei to Manila.
He was interviewed by journalists on the plane.
What did he tell them?
“Be ready with your camera because this action can become very fast… in a matter of three or four minutes, it could be all over… and I may not be able to talk to you again after this,” Ninoy said.
Before he boarded the plane on Aug. 20, 1983, the former senator told a reporter he might be “hit” at the airport and that the assassin would be shot in return.
Holding up a bullet-proof vest, Ninoy said, “But if they hit me in the head, I’m a goner.”
Ken Kashiwahara, Ninoy’s brother-in-law and a reporter for ABC News correspondent based in San Francisco, was with the senator aboard the plane.
Here’s Kashiwahara’s account about his last minutes with his brother-in-law:
“As we descended over a Philippine landscape of rice fields and rural villages, Ninoy reached into his bag and handed me a box. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘I want you to have my watch.’ I was stunned.
“‘Why? Why are you doing this? ‘I just want you to have it.’”
Ninoy was very sick. He had a triple coronary bypass in the US after Marcos allowed him to go there as a humanitarian gesture.
Apparently, Ninoy knew his end was near. His excesses in his youth and even during his stay in the United States had taken a toll on his health.
Ninoy was a genius and had a very sharp grasp of world history.
My police reporter’s mind is malicious, pardon me, but if he knew that the end was near, was it possible he masterminded his own death?
There were people in history who masterminded their deaths to make themselves heroes in perpetuity: Cleopatra, to end the war between Octavian and Mark Anthony, with whom she had three children; Socrates, to preserve his philosophy.
In Ninoy’s case, to end the Marcos regime.
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