It’s that day of the year again

21 August is the day when some media outlets recount when, 39 years ago, ex-Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was shot dead at the tarmac of the international airport in Pasay City that now bears his name.

Back then, Aquino was the most prominent opponent of then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. He had just arrived from a medical furlough in the United States shortly past noon on that day, only to be fatally shot seconds after disembarking from his flight.

A fact-finding board headed by former Court of Appeals Justice Corazon Juliano-Agrava concluded that one of the soldiers who escorted Aquino off the aircraft through a side stairway shot him on the head even before the ex-senator could reach the airport pavement.

The Agrava board pointed to the gunman but was unable to identify any mastermind.

Ninoy’s widow, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, insisted that President Marcos was the mastermind, but she admitted she had no evidence to support her accusation.

Nonetheless, the opponents of President Marcos found it convenient to believe Mrs. Aquino’s conjecture. Blaming Aquino’s death on Marcos made it easier for anti-Marcos elements to destabilize the country and make it vulnerable to a communist takeover.

President Marcos himself denied having any role in Aquino’s death. Logic, reason and past events support his denial.

In a recorded video interview done a year before his death, Ninoy Aquino himself admitted that if president Marcos wanted him dead, he would have gotten rid of him as early as 1973 when he was at the height of his power and popularity as president. Marcos did nothing of that sort.

Back in 1977, a military tribunal had already sentenced Aquino to death by musketry for his alleged subversive activities. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Marcos could have easily given the go-signal for Aquino’s execution, but he did not do so.

In 1980, after Ninoy Aquino suffered a major heart attack while in detention at Fort Bonifacio, President Marcos could have simply let him eventually die in detention. Instead, Marcos allowed Aquino to seek medical treatment in the United States.

Being the astute politician that he was, President Marcos must have known that people will inevitably blame him if Aquino died under his watch as president. Besides, he could match wits with Aquino alive, but with Aquino as a phantom, Marcos would have been hard put doing so.

From the foregoing narration of facts, it was very unlikely that President Marcos was behind Aquino’s death.

Even Atty. Bienvenido Tan Jr., the public coordinator of the Agrava Board, admitted that the Board found no evidence to link President Marcos to the shooting of Aquino.

Withal, the attention should now be directed at President Cory Aquino and her son President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Cory was president from 1986 to 1992. As president, Cory had control over the National Bureau of Investigation and the intelligence services of the government. Surprisingly, she did not bother to order a reinvestigation of her husband’s death.

Noynoy Aquino was president from 2010 to 2016. The facilities of the investigation and intelligence services of the government during his time were far more advanced than those of his mother’s time. However, Noynoy, like Cory before him, was not interested in a reinvestigation.

Why Ninoy Aquino’s own widow and only son (and namesake) were patently disinterested in ascertaining the mastermind of his death is mind-boggling.

Political observers surmise that the only explanation for the unusual, even scandalous disinterest of Cory and Noynoy in reopening the Ninoy case is the possibility that President Marcos really had nothing to do with Ninoy’s assassination. Uncovering the truth would have completely unsettled the Aquino family’s overused template that Marcos was behind his death.

That would have also meant President Marcos does not deserve to be the hate object the Aquino family had been nurturing in the public’s impression these past 39 years.

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