Thu. Jul 29th, 2021

By Mauro Gia Samonte

I routinely wake up from a short sleep at 2 a.m. and after a quick coffee, start tinkering with the keys of my computer, scanning by habit The Manila Times online edition. I begin, as ever, with favorites, I clicked Lt. General Antonio Parlade’s column, Decisive Point.

His title, “CPP’s forte: Lies, half-truths, deception.

Rather uncharacteristically long, the piece deals with, as the title indicates, the monumental deceits committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in its half-century conduct of “protracted people’s war.”

A unifying thread of the multiple issues raised in the discussion is the role played by the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in the formations of the CPP, the NPA and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), his massive ventilation in Congress and all over the media of the farcical Jabidah Massacre, which culminated in a sellout to Malaysia of the Marcos plan, Oplan Merdeka, to retake Sabah.

According to Parlade’s view, Ninoy’s revelation of the plan constituted a treasonous act.

A citation of a piece. “Knowing Ninoy Aquino,” in my blog, Kamao (kamaopunch.blogspot.com), suggests the duplicity of Ninoy Aquino with Jose Maria Sison in the bombing of Plaza Miranda on Aug. 21, 1971, in which the entire senatorial ticket of the Liberal Party in that year’s midterm elections was nearly killed but for one – Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

Why, of all people, Ninoy should be absent from the event, the deeply discerning just could not swallow.

According to Sen. Jovito Salonga, who, among other injuries, lost an eye in the grenade blasts, Ninoy was the star of show, and yet how amazing that he should be the one single absentee at the rally.

The late Ferdie Ramos, who was Ninoy’s public relations man at the time, had this story spoken in whispers to close associates: he got a radio call from Ninoy moments before the grenades were thrown, asking to see him and where he was; Ferdie said he was right onstage in the rally, waiting for Ninoy to arrive.

“Ano’ng ginagawa mo riyan? Bumaba ka riyan. Lumayo ka riyan. Bilis!” was, according to his story, Ninoy’s frantic order.

And so, Ferdie went rushing offstage and up, up and away. Moments later came the loud explosions which killed two, injured more than a hundred, including the entire LP senatorial ticket save one and the Manila LP local candidates,

Who bombed Plaza Miranda?

In the media manipulation at the time – when Ninoy said ’twas Marcos whodunit, people took it hook, line and sinker – “Marcos bombed Plaza Miranda”.

One of the victims of the Plaza Miranda bombing was Senator Jovito Salonga.

But far forward in history, in 1989, a joint inquiry of the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees conducted hearings on the Plaza Miranda bombing, with Ruben Guevarra, a founding member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the party’s former secretary general, as witness.

Guevarra swore to the following:

1. In the afternoon of Aug 21, 1971, he was fetched by Noli Collantes aka Banero, director of the National Trade Union Bureau of the CPP central committee. and brought to a meeting with Jose Maria Sison in the Malibay, Pasay UG house of Hermenigildo Garcia. He was presented by Sison with youths Danny Cordero and Cecilio Apostol, who, Sison said, “would be bombing a political rally in the evening.”

2. Guevarra’s task was to bring the youth directly to the interiors of Isabela jungles immediately after their bombing mission.

3. In September 1972, the shipment of arms from China aboard the MV Karagatan was intercepted by government forces. This debacle was largely attributed to the insubordination of Danny Cordero, then already the head of a large NPA unit.

The rebel high command had ordered Cordero to assist in carrying the arms from the ship to the interiors of Isabela jungles, but Cordero, invoking his particular responsibilities at the time, defied the order, and the resulting delay in the movement of the arms enabled the government forces to discover the shipment.

4. Cordero was eventually tried for mutiny, was found guilty and sentenced to die by execution.

5. Cordero protested the sentence, contending he had done the party a great service so that he should not be punished with execution.

6. Asked by Guevarra, head of the tribunal hearing the Cordero case, exactly what service Cordero was referring to, the youth replied: “Ako ang bumomba…. Isa ako sa tatlong bumomba sa Plaza Miranda.”

Readers must be astounded that though Guevarra was the one whom Sison tasked to bring Cordero and his companions for hiding in Isabela jungles, he was never made privy to the bombing the youths would be doing that evening.

Inside the CPP, strict compartmentalization is observed. This means you don’t ask what you are not told to know. Throughout the party, the army and the movement, the PMB (Plaza Miranda Bombing) was a taboo discussion piece.

This was a very private matter only between Ninoy Aquino and Sison.

Thus, not even Guevarra knew the party ordered the bombing. Only when the Cordero finally declared it at his trial was it finally known – at the expense of his life.

Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile inspects M-14s and accompanying ammunitions intercepted by the Armed Forces after they have been offloaded from MV Karagatan at Digoyo Point in Isabela in 1972, the incident that immediately made President Marcos declare martial law.

For all his heroics, Cordero was executed, nonetheless.

All the foregoing are as cascading vignettes from a Ninoy Aquino montage that stream into my consciousness the minute I finish reading General Parlade’s column and my eyes catch sight of the headline: “Former President Noynoy Aquino dies.”

At once a worry seizes me. Truly the political genius that he was, on the 12th anniversary of the Plaza Miranda bombing, Ninoy made good his oath to Marcos delivered in his “celebrated speech” at the Freedom Rally organized by the Movement for a Free Philippines at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, California on February 15,1981: “I swear to dedicate the last drop of my blood to the dismantlement of your dictatorship.”

The euthanasia he executed upon his homecoming at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983 became the one single spark that exploded the nation into a determined last stage of that dismantlement to culminate in the so-called People Power Revolt of EDSA 1 and install Ninoy’s wife, Cory, as president.

The next morning of her oath-taking, galunggong, which until the day before was selling at P18 per kilogram, shot up to an astronomical P85 per kg.

The Philippine economy, which was already second only to Japan in Asia, began its swift downturn to the cellar.

Thus, not even Guevarra knew the party ordered the bombing. Only when the Cordero finally declared it at his trial was it finally known – at the expense of his life.

After Cory Aquino assumed the presidency in 1987, she freed Jose Maria Sison (shown here before his release) and Dante Buscayno, and granted clemency to Victor Corpuz. Buscayno retired into farming, Corpuz was reinstated into the Armed Forces as lieutenant-colonel, later retiring as brigadier-general. Ninoy Aquino, of course, was felled by an assassin’s bullet at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, upon his return to the Philippines four year earlier. Sison escaped to the Netherlands to resume his leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists, to this day.

On August 5, 2009, on the cortege of Cory’s funeral, the son Noynoy, prompted by his sisters, stepped out of their vehicle and, like a rock star, waved at the thousands (or probably millions) lining up the funeral route, for a moment forgetting that the hour was not for cheering but for mourning a departed mother.

But what the heck. The death of a husband had propelled an inexperienced housewife to the top post of the land once upon a time. The death of the mother could do the trick this time for a son.

And by God, it did.

Oh, a stream once more of ugly images: the deadly hostage-taking of Hong Kong nationals; the government neglect of Super Typhoon Yolanda victims; the SAF 44 massacre; the stand-down order for the military in its fight with the MILF; the release of the Morong 38; the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement; the utter bastardization of judicial processes evident in the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona and in the arrest and detention of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; the costly Permanent Court of Arbitration suit that was a total waste for the country; six years of ill relations with China, resulting in massive loss of opportunities for Philippine economic advancement, total Chinese embargo on Philippine agricultural products and the very lucrative tourist industry.

Oh, the list is long.

Now I gape at The Manila Times headline. I shudder at the reckoning: Can an Aquino death be proud one more time?

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