Warnings Ninoy wrote: ‘Dissent is most despised when most needed’

/ 07:25 AM August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Perhaps the definitive Ninoy Aquino is in the book “Testament from a Prison Cell,” a compilation of his letters, legal statements and poems that his family smuggled out of jail in Fort Bonifacio while he was facing charges of subversion and murder in a military court.

Excerpts from the book published in 2000:


“May the Filipinos who survive this native despotism take to heart the lessons that it teaches: that freedom does not come cheap and easy, that dissent is most despised when most needed; that the enemy within is to be feared and could even be more evil and destructive than any foe from the outside.”

“Marcos will be judged by the nation he has betrayed and deceived — not only by this generation, but by all generations of Filipinos yet to be born, whenever this dark page in our history is recalled in disgust, in shame, in horror.”


“Decision-making by one man, no matter how good and fair and just the decisions are, is not proof of national strength or vision, but shameful proof of a people’s captivity. No man has the gift of omniscience.”

“Mr. Marcos claims he declared martial law to liquidate a subversive movement inspired by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist teachings and beliefs. Yet, he is the first Filipino president to ‘build bridges’ to the citadels of communist powers—Peking and Moscow—and establish diplomatic relations with practically all the communist states. As if these were not enough, he has publicly acknowledged the “natural leadership of Communist China in the Third World.”

“The plain and simple truth is: Mr. Marcos declared martial rule to perpetuate himself in power. He deliberately abetted chaos for seven years so that at the end of his constitutionally allowable term he could justify the imposition of martial rule to cover up his mismanagement.

“Having lost his power of persuasion, he has resorted to coercion, to fear—and the complete control of the media. He established a dictatorship because he knew he had lost the confidence of the people. What he could no longer achieve with the ballot, he grabbed with the bullets of the armed forces.”

“A free press is indispensable if a democracy is to function efficiently, if it is to be real.”

“There should be full opportunity for all points of view to find expression. It means toleration for opposition opinions.”

“I have faith in the Filipino. I believe that with all the resources at his disposal and given the facts and the truth, the Filipino can resolve any difficulty and achieve his vision of a good and just society.”


“I am innocent of the charges leveled against me, but I would rather be shot by a firing squad than go through the motions of defending myself before a drumhead court-martial and lend credibility to a farce and mockery of justice.”

(Aquino’s mother Aurora filed a case for habeas corpus with preliminary injunction at the Supreme Court. The military tribunal convicted him to die by firing squad. He suffered a heart attack in March 1980, moved to the Philippine Heart Center, and allowed by Marcos to fly to the United States for a bypass).

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino Jr., Ferdinand Marcos, Marcos' martial law, Ninoy Aquino, Testament From a Prison Cell
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