Aquino appeals to Duterte: Reread Ninoy remarks
Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on Monday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for the good words the latter had for his father, the martyred Sen. Ninoy Aquino, but he appealed to Mr. Duterte to once in a while reread his own statement to remember the country’s past.
“This morning, I was able to read President Duterte’s statement and I am thankful to him for the good words he said about my father,” Aquino said.
“But I appeal to him that perhaps, at times he should read it again because these were his words. He might remember our country’s past,” he added to cheers and applause of those who joined the Aquino family at Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.
The former President was obviously referring to the dark days of the authoritarian rule by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in which corruption and violations of the people’s rights were widespread.
Aquino said he hoped Mr. Duterte would leave a copy of his statement on his desk, and from “time to time read it because what he said seemed so heartfelt.”
Aquino said he did the same thing while he was in office. He would leave on his table things to read that he thought had messages that he should remember.
Ninoy Aquino, then the country’s leading opposition leader, was assassinated by soldiers of the Marcos regime on the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983, on his return after a three-year self-exile in the United States.
He was the most prominent victim of an extrajudicial killing during the Marcos dictatorship.
His death became the tipping point for public discontent with the dictatorship. In February 1986, the Edsa People Power Revolution ousted the Marcoses and restored democracy after nearly 20 years of authoritarianism.
In his statement on Sunday, Mr. Duterte expressed hope that the commemoration of Ninoy’s death would “strengthen his legacy of promoting solidarity and patriotism among our people, especially in these troubling times.”
The former President said that 34 years after the death of his father, the country should be able to say that much has already changed.
“But it seems we cannot say that now,” Aquino said.
Despite heavy rain, more than a hundred supporters of the Aquinos showed up at the cemetery wearing yellow and cheered the moment they saw the former President arrive.
The crowd consisted of people from all walks of life, several of whom wore old shirts that bore the images of Ninoy and his widow, Cory, who became President after the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Political allies of the Aquinos were present, led by Vice President Leni Robredo. At the Mass were the Liberal Party president, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, and minority Senators Frank Drilon, Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino, a cousin of the former President. LP stalwart Mar Roxas was also in attendance.
Aquino’s former Cabinet secretaries Voltaire Gazmin, Ging Deles, Butch Abad, Cesar Garcia, Sonny Coloma and Dinky Soliman also attended the gathering.
“Other people say yellow is now out of fashion. But now it seems that all kinds of yellow are here, so thank you,” Aquino said.
His family recognized the show of support yesterday, especially after only a thin but loyal crowd joined the Aquinos at the death anniversary of their mother on Aug. 1.
Caloocan Bishop Ambo David said he had no personal relations with the Aquino family but he accepted the invitation for him to lead the Mass for Ninoy because of his “debt of gratitude” to the senator, who sacrificed his life in the name of democracy.
It was in David’s diocese where 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was killed last week, as well as several other victims of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“If we don’t look back on where we came from, we could be salvaged and our bodies dumped on a patch of swamp cabbage,” David said in his homily.
In Bacolod City, groups of Negrenses on Monday brought flowers, yellow balloons and lit torches at the statue of Ninoy to keep alive the flame of democracy he gave his life for.
Joy Jarabelo, provincial coordinator of the Federation of Urban Poor, led in the floral offering at 6 a.m., which was followed by a short prayer, singing of the national anthem and speeches. —With a report from Carla P. Gomez