MANILA, AUGUST 22, 2012 (ABS-CBN) By RG Cruz - President Benigno Aquino III skipped the annual mass for his father's death anniversary today to bring home to Naga his Cabinet member.

Aquino was supposed to attend the mass at the tomb of his parents, former President Cory Aquino and former Senator Ninoy Aquino this morning.

It was only his sisters and other relatives present at the tomb today.

Aquino immediately flew to Masbate upon learning of news that authorities have already recovered the body of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Ninoy Aquino died in 1983, the victim of an assassin's bullet, at the height of the Marcos regime.

Flags at half mast

Meanwhile, it was around noontime when the Palace engineering staff started to fly the Philippine flag at half staff inside the Palace Complex.

Top Palace officials, led by the President himself, were out of their offices for the day.

In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa called for prayers for Robredo and the two pilots, who figured in a plane crash on Saturday.

"Secretary Robredo was a dedicated public servant and a champion of good governance whose track record in public service has been an inspiration to all those who believe in government as an instrument for positive change,” he said.

Ochoa also expressed his condolences to the Robredos, as well as residents of Naga City, where Robredo was mayor prior to his appointment as Interior Secretary. He said they "lost a leader who tirelessly worked and contributed greatly to President Aquino's campaign for good governance as a means to improve the lives of our countrymen."

Budget Secretary Florencio Abadfor his part said, "Even as we grieve, we look forward to a Philippines that continues to be inspired by Sec. Jesse's passion for and commitment to public service. He was a rare man whose exemplary deeds spoke well and true for him. He will always be remembered as such"

Vice President Jejomar Binay also called for prayers for Robredo and the two pilots. "I urge everyone to pray for them, that they trust God's plan for all of us. They need our wholehearted prayers and support. I pray that the Almighty will embrace them and give them the strength they need in this time of grief."


5 Ninoy Aquino allies to get awards By Cynthia D. Balana Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:51 am | Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

[PHOTO -29 YEARS AGO Former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. looks pensive shortly after being sentenced to death by musketry by a military tribunal in 1977 (left), and on his flight home from the United States on Aug. 21, 1983 (right), moments before being shot dead (center) on the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport. Inquirer Photos

Five colleagues of the late former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. will be awarded the first Ninoy Aquino Movement (NAM) Medal of Valor to commemorate his 29th death anniversary Tuesday.

The awardees are Steve Psinakis, Danny Lamila, Victor Lovely, Doris Nuval-Baffrey and the San Francisco-based Philippine News then published by Alex Esclamado.

NAM founding chairman and former Sen. Heherson Alvarez said that NAM was honoring these “patriots who labored with the movement to help restore democracy back to the country.”

The celebration will be held Tuesday on the tarmac of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where the father of President Benigno Aquino was shot dead on Aug. 21, 1983.

A requiem Mass remembering the late senator will also honor a roster of “patriot-members” who have passed away.

They include Raul Manglapus, Gerardo “Gerry” Esguerra, Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, Bonifacio Gillego, Salvador “Doy” Laurel, Ramon “Monching” Mitra, Jose “Pepe” Calderon, Rashid Lucman, Fr. Toti Olaguer, Alejandro ‘’Chino” Roces, Eddie Monteclaro, Manoling Maravilla, Fortunato Roxas, Geny Lopez, Art Taca, Steve Agular, Esther Paredes, Otto Jimenez, Ric Manapat, Renato “Nats” Tañada, Annie Tañada, Jesus Cellano, Rafael Baskinas, Ciriaco Sabilano and Cecilia Muñoz-Palma.

The awardees

“Ninoy’s martyrdom, like Rizal’s, is a historic high point of Filipino patriotism which the living witnesses of that period must share with the nation for all times, especially the younger generation of Filipinos who will continue to keep alive the legacy of democracy and freedom,” Alvarez said.

Psinakis, one of the Medal of Valor awardees, is a Greek citizen married to a Filipino, Precy Lopez-Psinakis. Organizers cited his commitment in the struggle to restore democracy in his adopted country.

Lovely had been maimed in a bomb explosion when he was brought to the United States to testify before a grand jury against the anti-Marcos opposition leadership. Lovely refused to testify against the group and instead denounced the Marcos dictatorship for its brutality.

Lamila, a supporter of NAM, was a participant in the “Light-a-Fire Movement,” which carried out bomb attacks against the dictatorship.

Baffrey, imprisoned by the Marcos regime after she came home to the Philippines from the United States, was described by event organizers as a symbol of resistance against persecution.

Esclamado was the publisher of the Philippine News, a US-based Filipino newspaper that became the vehicle of anti-Marcos groups disseminating information on the abuses and corruption of the dictatorship.

The NAM has spearheaded the annual celebration of Aquino’s martyrdom since 1987. The first celebration was presided over by the late President Corazon Aquino and attended by Coretta Scott King, widow of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Tuesday’s celebration starts at 9 a.m.

A special feature of the celebration is a joint performance of a delegation from the Seoul Institute of the Arts headed by Duk Hyung-yoo and the Earthsavers Unesco Dream Center directed by Cecile Guidote-Alvarez.


Nation marks Ninoy’s death anniversary

[PHOTO -A fateful day in history. This statue of Ninoy Aquino in Makati shows aviation security officials escorting the former senator down an aircraft moments before he was killed at the tarmac]

Airport officials, various groups and supporters will offer flowers and prayers during a Mass to commemorate the heroism and assassination of the father of President Aquino at Manila’s international airport 29 years ago, airport officials said on Monday.

A fateful day in history. This statue of Ninoy Aquino in Makati shows aviation security officials escorting the former senator down an aircraft moments before he was killed at the tarmac.

Airport General Manager Jose Honrado said the commemoration activities would start with a wreath laying at the tarmac where former senator Benigno Aquino was shot dead as he stepped down the aircraft that brought him home from exile in the United States.

At the departure lobby, flowers will be offered at the foot of the bust of the former senator where a program will be held to present the First Ninoy Aquino Medal for freedom fighters awards.

The death of Ninoy Aquino triggered a “people power” revolt that led to the downfall on February 25, 1986, of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who fled to exile in the United States.

The name of the airport has been changed to Ninoy Aquino International Airport to honor the former senator. August 21, the date of his death, has been declared a national holiday.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, a known Aquino supporter, said the assassination “stirred the minds of the Filipinos from apathy and moved the nation to stage a non-violent campaign to fight a repressive regime.”

“There is no better way to commemorate Ninoy’s death than to continue and live by his principles and pursue our commitment to truth, accountability and service to our people,” Binay said.

Many people recall that the assassination sent shock waves across the country and many wept as word spread that the charismatic opposition leader has been killed.

His death came at a time of turmoil in the Philippines with the government battling Muslim and Communist rebels and the gap between the rich and the poor was widening because of the faltering economy.

Aquino was a formidable opposition figure when Marcos declared martial law in 1972. He was thrown in jail and sentenced to death by a military commission.

The death sentence was never carried because he was allowed to go to the United States to seek medical treatment for his heart ailment. After three years in America, Ninoy decided to come home and was killed at the tarmac by a suspected assassin identified as Rolando Galman, who authorities said, penetrated the tight security at the airport.

The killing of Aquino led to the Edsa revolt on February 22-25, 1986 that ended Marcos 20-year authoritarian rule. With Ben Cal and Sara Fabunan

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved