In the country’s calendar, separate from the National Heroes Day celebrated on the last Sunday of August, there are three dates assigned to commemmorate the contributions of three great heroes to Philippine history. Coincidentally, all three died of gun shots.
December 30 is Rizal Day, the day in 1896 when Dr. Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards in Bagumbayan (now Luneta Park), Manila for “treason and complicity in the revolution”.
November 30 is Bonifacio Day; this was actually Andres Bonifacio’s birthday because he was executed not by the Spaniards but ironically by Filipinos on May 10, 1897 in Maragondon, Cavite for “treason and sedition.”
And then there is August 21. We all know that on this day in 1983, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, returning from exile in the USA, was assassinated on the tarmac of the then-Manila International Airport. Compared to Rizal and Bonifacio, Aquino was never tried, found “guilty” of a certain crime, nor sentenced to execution prior to his untimely death. And until today, we still do not know who his killer is.
Today, August 21, is the 26th anniversary of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination. Just like Dr. Jose Rizal, he was the “spark” that lit the fire of the People Power three years later. And that same bloodless revolution pushed his plain housewife, Corazon “Cory” Aquino in the limelight and eventually to the presidency.
My father always tells us that without Ninoy’s assassination, there would be no People Power. In as much as the Philippine Revolution would not come in full force without Jose Rizal’s execution, we Filipinos would not, and cannot unite, as one people towards one common goal without someone sacrificing his life for the country. In short, someone has to die before every Filipino can live properly.
And then, I add: without Cory, there would be no peaceful People Power. During that time, almost every Filipino was so angry and so enraged about the results of the 1986 snap elections and all the injustices during the Marcos administration that they could kill all those people who opressed them. One more mistake, People Power can become Mob Power. But Cory Aquino’s simplicity, calmness and sheer determination urged the people to do otherwise. And from February 22 to 25, 1986, the military and the Church sided with all the Filipinos and ousted a dictator, his wife and his cronies from power.
Truly, this August is the month of the Aquinos. [On a personal note, we’re almost forgetting that we celebrate Buwan ng Wika and the death of another great President, Manuel L. Quezon in August!] In fact, on today’s headlines is another Aquino.
In choosing its final presidential standard bearer for the 2010 polls, the Liberal Party is somewhat torn between its announced standard bearer, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Former Senator Eddie Ilarde, in a letter to LP Chairman Franklin Drilon, suggested that Noynoy be the 2010 presidential candidate for the party. Cebu congressman Antonio Cuenco also said that both Mar and Noynoy were qualified to lead the country, and they are “sure” that Roxas “is not greedy for power” and would give way to Noynoy to become LP’s presidential candidate.
From this, another dilemma arises: Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, an LP member, has announced his intention to run for Vice President. So, a selection for President has been made between Mar and Noynoy, who would be chosen as Vice President? The one not chosen for President, or Kiko Pangilinan?
Both Mar and Noynoy were sons and grandsons of prominent LP leaders and stalwarts. Both their grandfathers served during the Commonwealth Period, and their fathers were prominent during the Marcos Era.
Mar’s grandfather was President Manuel A. Roxas. And his father, Gerardo Roxas, was LP’s presidential candidate had the 1973 Elections, pre-empted by Martial Law, took place.
Noynoy’s grandfather was actually a Nacionalista, Sen. Benigno Aquino, Sr. But his father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., was an LP stalwart.
Sen. Mar Roxas said that he would talk with Sen. Noynoy Aquino regarding this matter after the 40-day mourning of Pres. Cory Aquino’s death (which ends September 10). [I just noticed: September 11, if they would talk about LP’s dilemma on that date, is the birthday of President Ferdinand Marcos.]
Sen. Roxas also pointed out that he has good relations with Sen. Noynoy, and it would not get bad because of this issue.
In my opinion, LP should think about this very carefully. One wrong move, and it may lead to unexpected rifts within the party. Remember, LP has once been divided into two factions, so an unjustified choice might resurrect this.
Mar has spent already for advertisements and media placements. Some point out that these ads would be wasted if Noynoy was selected. For me, it’s not; besides, Mar is just promoting himself as a good public servant in these ads, not a presidential candidate (somewhat because he would be charged with premature campaigning if he did the latter). If Mar decides to run for Vice President, the ads are still worth it because its main purpose is to bolster Mar’s image to the people, not tell Filipinos to vote him for President.
Noynoy has stated that he is open to seek higher office. After this, Ilarde and Cuenco suggested that he be LP’s presidential candidate. Why the hurry? Because of Noynoy’s “rising popularity” after his mother’s death? Unreasonable! We cannot blame some LP stalwarts with this idea; Noynoy’s an Aquino. But if they would choose him solely because of his “rising popularity”, that’s nonsense.
If Noynoy really has the intention to run for President, then so be it. LP must not force him to do so; let Noynoy decide. If the majority of Filipinos like the “Noynoy for President” idea, then so be it too. This is democracy.