Those behind Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. slay now part of urban legend
Like campus ghost stories and the white lady of Balete Drive, the identities of those behind Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.’s assassination have become part of Philippine urban legend, according to Sen. Joker Arroyo.
“Everyone has an idea,” Arroyo said in a phone interview when asked if he had suspects. “Even the (Aquino) family has an idea…But that is now the stuff of urban legend for generations to come,” he told the Inquirer.
Asked why he would not name who he thought had ordered Aquino killed, Arroyo chuckled and said “Mahirap ma-libel, he-he (It’s tough being charged with libel).”
Turning serious, Arroyo lamented that those who were punished for the murder of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. 28 years ago “were lowly enlisted men and junior officers who did not even know who he was and were just following orders.”
“That’s the unfairness of it all. Justice was never delivered. What was the motive of those soldiers? The masterminds who (went scot free) were those who were angry at Ninoy and wanted to get him (‘yung mga may galit na gustong bumawi),” Arroyo said.
The senator, who served as executive secretary of Ninoy’s widow, former President Corazon Aquino, said that even if their son, current President Benigno Aquino III decide to pursue the matter, finding witnesses to point the masterminds would be hard, if not impossible.
“After 28 years, where are the witnesses? Perhaps they are also dead so this is going to be difficult,” Arroyo said.
“It remains an unsolved crime but we all know who were behind it,” he added.
On Sept. 27, 1990, the Sandiganbayan found 16 soldiers guilty of killing Aquino and his alleged assassin, Rolando Galman.
Sentenced to double life sentences were Constable Rogelio Moreno, Brig. Gen. Luther Custodio, Capt. Romeo Bautista, 2nd Lt. Jesus Castro, C1C Mario Lazaga, Sgt. Claro Lat, Sgt. Arnulfo de Mesa, Sgt. Filomeno Miranda, Sgt. Rolando de Guzman, Sgt. Ernesto Mateo, Sgt. Rodolfo Desolong, A1C Cordova Estelo, M/Sgt. Pablo Martinez, Sgt. Ruben Aquino, Sgt. Arnulfo Artates and A1C Felizardo Taran.
However, no mastermind was named. The Supreme Court affirmed the guilty verdicts on July 23, 1991.
The soldiers spent more than 20 years in prison before they were released in 2009.
While the Aquino family could no longer pursue the masterminds, Senator Arroyo said other victims of the Marcos regime could still benefit from the human rights compensation bill that he and fellow martial law victim Sen. Sergio Osmeña III are currently “fine-tuning.”
Under the measure, those who filed damage claims against the Marcos estate and are proven to have suffered torture and other atrocities under martial law rule would receive monetary compensation ranging from P50,000 to P2 million.
“Even those who did not file claims would be recognized,” Arroyo said.
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