Ninoy Aquino’s 7 acts of defiance | Inquirer News

Ninoy Aquino’s 7 acts of defiance

/ 01:40 AM August 21, 2014

DEFENSE LAWYERS Soc Rodrigo, Joker Arroyo and Lorenzo Tañada Sr. support Ninoy Aquino in his defiant stand against Marcos. EDGARDO SANTIAGO

Six acts of defiance, one of which ended in the death of a man, sparked a seventh, which started the rebirth of a democracy.

In 1972, when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos contemptuously padlocked Congress and the media, placed the entire country under martial rule and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and journalists, it would have been most expedient for Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. to simply collaborate with the dictator.


First act


Marcos was just waiting for that. But Ninoy, the most prominent among the arrested oppositionists, flatly refused. So Marcos ordered him tried on false charges of rebellion, murder and illegal possession of firearms by a military commission, under the rules and procedures that govern court-martial proceedings for officers and soldiers.

That started Ninoy’s defiance of Marcos and a war of attrition between the tormentor and the tormented. It was a battle of wills all the way.

In his first act of defiance, Ninoy challenged the jurisdiction and independence of Military Commission No. 2, composed of generals and colonels appointed by Marcos.

The strongman had already prejudged him guilty as charged, and the military commission took his cue.

Ninoy argued that the Articles of War that governed the proceedings of the military commission were designed only for men in uniform and not for civilians like himself when civil courts were functioning.

And so he refused to participate in the trials. Convict me if you must, he told the commission, but I will not dignify your illegal trials with my participation.


Military Commission No. 2 responded by having Ninoy dragged from his prison cell where he was held in solitary confinement to the gymnasium in Fort Bonifacio, the venue of his trial.

Second act

Ninoy staged his second act of defiance by going on a hunger strike. On May 13, 1975, the 40th day of his protest fast, Ninoy’s condition became critical.

But Marcos would not have the blood of a political martyr on his hands, and Ninoy was forcibly rushed to V. Luna General Hospital to be medically revived. Marcos knew that anointing Ninoy a hero would be sheer folly. History would later prove him right.

Military Commission No. 2 resumed its proceedings after Ninoy regained his health.

Third act

In his third act of defiance, Ninoy challenged the individual competence and impartiality of each and every member of the commission.

On Nov. 25, 1977, two days before Ninoy’s birthday, the commission, in a supreme act of sadism, sentenced him to die by musketry. But the international outcry that followed prevented Marcos from confirming the death order.

Fourth act

Ninoy made his fourth act of defiance in 1978, when Marcos allowed the election of the members of the Interim Batasan Pambansa. Ninoy filed a certificate of candidacy to lead the opposition group Laban, launching his campaign from solitary confinement.

The unprecedented success of a noise barrage on the eve of the elections forced Marcos to proclaim all his Kilusang Bagong Lipunan candidates winners with only 25 percent of the votes canvassed.

In 1980, Ninoy was afflicted with a heart problem while in the stockade. Believing that he would be rid of his most potent rival, Marcos allowed Ninoy to go to the United States for a heart bypass. After his operation, Ninoy energetically barnstormed the United States and other countries to denounce the Marcos regime.

Fifth, sixth acts

But by 1983, Ninoy felt he had to go home. He felt that as the acknowledged leader of the opposition, his place was in the Philippines.

In his fifth act of defiance, Ninoy came home. He paid for the act with his own life. Filipinos responded by showing up by the millions at his wake and funeral.

In 1985, or two years after Ninoy’s death, Marcos called a snap presidential election, and Ninoy’s widow took up what could be called his sixth act of defiance. She took up the challenge against Marcos.

Final act

Marcos cheated, as he did in the 1978 elections. The people responded resoundingly and trooped to Edsa, in a final, seventh act of defiance that jolted the world.

Ninoy’s sacrifice on Aug. 21, 1983, served as a whiplash on the national conscience. His assassination unleashed a torrent of pent-up resentment against the dictatorship that led the country to penury, perdition and ruin.

The shock of Aug. 21 turned to hurt, outrage and quiet courage, and led the nation to new hopes two and a half years later.

(Reprinted from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug. 20, 2000)



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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, Ninoy Aquino, Politics

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