Aquino supporters, ML survivors remember democracy icon
Despite the overcast sky, a group of supporters and martial law survivors gathered meters away from the spot on the airport tarmac where former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was assassinated more than three decades ago.
They may be fewer than the hundreds who flocked to the then Manila International Airport, which was later renamed in honor of the slain senator, on that sunny weekend in 1983, but their passion to fight for what is right remains as bright as their yellow ribbons that fluttered in the wind.
Sen. Bam Aquino, Ninoy’s nephew who led one of two commemoration activities at the airport complex on Sunday, said that with what was happening in the country, the public must be reminded of how his uncle viewed the Philippines — “a nation not of cowards but of brave men and women and of heroes.”
While he was only six years old at the time of Ninoy’s assassination, Aquino said he still vividly remembered what happened on that fateful Sunday 34 years ago and how it felt like.
He noted that the atmosphere then was that of “sadness and fear, which eventually turned into anger that led to action.”
Find voices again
“[When] you think about what’s happening today in our country, it may start with sadness, with confusion, but maybe like before this should turn into action,” Aquino said during the wreath-laying ceremony at Ninoy’s bust in the airport’s Terminal 3.
Over the last few weeks, he noted that it appeared that the time for Filipinos “to unite and find their voices is here again.”
The commemoration of Ninoy’s death comes at a time when hundreds of suspected drug users are killed off by authorities without the benefit of a trial.
Aquino, who belongs to the Senate minority bloc, has called on the Duterte administration to reexamine its strategy in battling the illegal drug trade, pointing out that it is mostly the poor who are killed, while high-profile suspects are “accorded due process.”
In his homily during Mass on the tarmac of Terminal 1, Msgr. Modesto Teston encouraged the public to be “courageous to pursue” what was right even if there was a great possibility for failure.
“Because at the end of the day, it is the choice that we did not risk failure that will haunt us,” he said.
Part of Sunday’s activity on the tarmac was the awarding of the Ninoy Aquino Medal of Valor to individuals who fought the dictatorship, as well as to soldiers who are risking their lives to rid Marawi City of Islamic State-linked terrorists.
Wounded 1st Lt. Christopher Montecillo and Sgt. Edgardo Diaz Jr. received the award on behalf of the troops who are fighting for the country’s “liberty and democracy.”
Key figures of the antimartial law movement who were honored were Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr., journalist Carmen “Chit” Pedrosa, Fr. Ben Beltran and environmentalist Roberto Verzola.
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