NOY RECALLS HIS DAD'S SUFFERING UNDER MARTIAL LAW
[VIDEO NEWS REPORT FROM ABS-CBN]
FORT MAGSAYSAY, NUEVA EXIJA, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 (ABS-CBN) By Willard Cheng - President Aquino struggled to keep his emotions in check as memories came rushing back on the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
In a speech during the inauguration of the refurbished Aquino-Diokno Memorial, Aquino recalled how he saw his father, the late Senator Ninoy Aquino, suffer when he was placed in solitary confinement, along with Jose "Pepe" Diokno.
The Memorial houses Aquino's and Diokno's detention center, which has been preserved and turned into a mini museum.
Aquino remembered how his father was stripped of his clothes, wedding ring, and eyeglasses, which triggered headaches.
At one point, Aquino had to apologize for breaks in his speech, saying memories of his father's ordeal came rushing back.
"Kaya madalas na sumakit po ang kanyang ulo noong mga panahong iyon dahil talaga pong napakaimportante po iyong salamin sa aking ama. Sa loob ng maliit, masikip, at mainit na silid-Pasensya na ho kayo, marami akong naalaala nitong mga oras na ito-malalaman lang nilang dalawa na sila'y buhay pa kapag kumanta ang isa ng Lupang Hinirang, at tumutugon naman ang kabila sa pag-awit ng Bayan Ko," he said.
Marcos rule 'like a wild dog'
Aquino admitted that it is still hard for him to watch the video of his father's assassination.
He said that as the only son, he had wanted to exact revenge from his father's oppressors.
"Aaminin kong hanggang ngayon, mahirap pa rin sa aking balikan at panoorin ang mga video ng huling mga sandali sa kanyang buhay: kung paano siya kinapkapan para tiyakin kung may suot na bullet proof vest o wala, at kung paano siya pinabagsak ng mga putok ng baril. Bilang nag-iisang anak na lalaki, mauunawaan siguro ninyo kung gaano ko ninais na gumanti sa nang-api sa aming ama, at sa ating bayan. Itinuring kong isang sinasapiang aso ang rehimeng Marcos na gusto kong wakasan," he said.
[PHOTO -PNoy: Seeing my father's bloodied corpse, I thought of vengeance]
The President realized that the best way to move forward is to sacrifice oneself.
"Ang paninindigan ng aking ama, at ang ibinunga ng kanyang sakripisyo ang nagbigay ng sagot sa aking mga katanungan. Tulad nina Rizal, Gandhi, at Mandela, anuman ang dinaanan niyang pagdurusa, hindi natinag ang kanyang prinsipyo. Sa halip, lalo itong yumabong. Umuwi siya ng Pilipinas na puno ng pag-asa sa kakayahan ng Pilipinong bumangon, at sa pananampalataya sa Diyos. Nakahanda siyang itaya ang lahat, kahit na ang sarili, sa paniniwalang ito. Para sa kanya, ang paraan lamang upang maiwasan ang pagdanak ng dugo ay ang kahandaang isakripisyo ang sarili."
Finding justice for Ninoy
Speaking to reporters, the President indicated that there are efforts to convince those who had received the orders to kill his father to reveal what they know.
"'Yung conspiracy napatunayan na naman 'yon sa paglilitis nila ng Sandiganbayan pati na ng Korte Suprema. At saka nakailang kaso na naisampa patungkol dito. So, dahil doon nakulong 'yung sila General Custodio, at saka mga miyembro nung noong tinaguriang AVSECOM," Aquino said.
"Ngayon, 'yung pagdating doon sa lampas pa nung level nila batid naman natin na nakatakas 'yung mga sinasabi ko ngang parang gitna doon sa talagang nag-utos. At ito'y sinusubukan pa rin nating i-follow up, ano, na baka makumbinsi itong mga ito na medyo may edad na rin na maisawalat 'yung kanilang nilalaman."
But the President sees no breakthrough soon.
"Pero sa totoo lang at siguro maging practical tayo dito, nakinabang silang itikom 'yung kanilang mga bibig so, baka magpatuloy sila doon sa kanilang desisyon na 'yan. So, kung titingnan lang natin 'yung naipatunayan na sa akin,, at least, lumabas sa korte, parehas 'yung usapan doon, pinangalagaan ang karapatan ng lahat ay napatunayan na merong conspiracy sa pagpaslang sa aking ama.
[PHOTO -PRESIDENT NOYNOY AQUINO'S FATHER, NINOY IN HIS JAIL CELL]
Apology to Diokno family
In his speech, the President apologized to the Diokno family, saying that Senator Diokno was dragged into solitary confinement only because of the article that his father wrote against the dictatorship. The article was published in Bangkok Post.
"Siguro samantalahin ko na rin ang pagkakataon humingi ng paumanhin sa mga Diokno. Alam po n'yo, ang sumulat ng artikulo tatay ko lang. Ang pinarusahan tatay ko at saka si Senator Diokno. Nadamay lang ho si Senator Diokno dito at baka ho never kaming nagpasalamat sa inyong pakikisama at humingi ng tawad sa pagkadamay n'yo, kaya publicly humihingi ako ng paumanhin sa ngalan po ng amin pong pamilya," he said.
Ills of martial rule
The President spoke of the ills of martial rule, which led to atrocities and made poverty in the country worse.
He said things are different now. He pointed out that the "concentration camp" that had served as his father's detention cell has become a reminder of the excesses of the past.
"Ang lugar na ito na minsang ginamit ng diktadurya upang pagmalupitan ang nanindigan para sa katwiran, ay isa nang pananda na magpapaalala sa atin sa mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Ang Hukbong Sandatahan na dati'y kinasangkapan sa paniniil ng mga Pilipino, maaasahan nang kabalikat sa pangangalaga sa kapakanan ng sambayanan," he said.
[PHOTO -President Benigno S. Aquino III, accompanied by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, tours and inspects the facilities of the refurbished Aquino-Diokno Memorial and the new Armed Forces of the Philippines Center for Human Rights Dialogue during the inauguration ceremonies at the Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija on Friday (September 21). The memorial is established to commemorate the struggle of former Senators Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. and Jose W. Diokno during the Martial Law regime and honor the ideals these statesmen personified. (Malacañang Photo Bureau).]
Their respective cells now contain life-size wax figures of Aquino and Diokno along with their bare furnishings, depicting how they endured their 30 days of detention in Laur.
Other rooms are similarly preserved, including that one of the officer-in-charge of the detention facility, then Lt. Voltaire Gazmin who happened be Ninoy Aquino's wedding godson.
"Ninoy didn't recognize his godson, who was in civvies, until the latter greeted him as 'Ninong.' Lt. Gazmin apologized to his godfather, saying he was just following orders. Ninoy told him that he understood," a label outside the room reads.
Gazmin later became the chief of the Presidential Security Group during the presidency of Cory Aquino and was appointed Defense Secretary by the current President Aquino.
Only Cory, Noynoy didn't cry
[PHOTO -The last photo taken of Ninoy Aquino in the Senate, September 21, 1972, the day before his arrest]
The President's eldest sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz recalled how shocked the Aquino family was when they were finally allowed to see Ninoy who had lost significant weight.
It became more painful to see their father cry. Ballsy said only her mother Cory, and her brother Noynoy were able to control their emotions.
"It was obvious that Mr. Marcos wanted to break dad's spirit. It was in solitary confinement though that my dad discovered a deeper sense of being. Prayer and reflection gave himself the strength and clarity of mind to carry on. Dad was never alone. God's hand worked at every moment," Bally said in her speech.
Ballsy then recalled how Gazmin would give Ninoy powdered milk when Ninoy refused to eat the food he was given lest he be poisoned.
AFP human rights dialogue
The President also inaugurated the AFP Center for Human Rights Dialogue, meant to serve as a venue for regular interaction between the military and human rights stakeholders and other sectors.
It houses rooms named in honor of Aquino and Diokno.
The AFP says The Memorial and Center signify the commitment of the military to democracy and human rights.
[ABS-CBN NEWS VIDEO]
FROM THE INQUIRER
Aquino-Diokno center ‘symbol of past mistakes’ Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:27 am | Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
[PHOTO -NINOY’S CELL President Aquino is “face to face” with a life-sized resin model of his father, Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., in Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija on Friday. Behind him is Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who was the late senator’s jailer at the facility. Malacañang Photo Bureau]
FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija —President Benigno Aquino III was 13 when he first set foot in this military camp, where his father, the late former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was initially held in solitary confinement at the onset of martial law.
Their family visited the elder Aquino here in 1973, recounted the President who returned to Fort Magsaysay on Friday to open a human-rights center and a shrine to mark the 40th anniversary of President Marcos’ declaration of martial law.
Many things have changed since Marcos’ ouster in a citizen-backed military uprising in 1986, Mr. Aquino said.
“We have gone a long way,” he said. “This place, which the dictatorship once used to oppress those of us who stood up for our rights, is now a symbol that reminds us of the mistakes of the past. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, which was used to tyrannize Filipinos, can now be depended on as allies to protect our people.”
Mr. Aquino opened the Aquino-Diokno Shrine and the AFP Center for Human Rights Dialogue (AFP-HRD) at the reconstructed detention cell of his father and former Sen. Jose W. Diokno. The building used to house the Army’s intelligence service office.
When martial law was declared on Sept. 21, 1972, Senators Aquino and Diokno were arrested and detained in Fort Bonifacio until March 12, 1973, when they were taken to the military camp here and kept in separate cells.
“Sa lugar na ito tinangka ng diktadurya na tuluyan nang burahin ang kanilang prinsipyo’t durugin ang kanilang diwa (In this place, the dictatorship attempted to erase their principles and crush their spirit),” Mr. Aquino said.
Present at the opening of the shrine and the human rights center were the President’s eldest sister Ballsy, members of the Diokno family and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who,
Mr. Aquino said, was the young soldier assigned to guard his father’s cell. Gazmin, the President said, assured him that the senator would get adequate food.
When he first saw his father here, he did not cry, Mr. Aquino said. Instead, he was overwhelmed with anger at the authorities who had abused their power.
It was then that he started questioning events and seeking answers by reviewing history, he added. “Ano ang puno’t dulo ng diktadurya? Paano mawawakasan ang kalupitan? (How does a dictatorship start and end? How do we end cruelty and oppression)?” he had asked.
[VIDEO: REVISITING NINOY AQUINO'S ASSASINATION]
From his prison cell, Senator Aquino continued to write about the excesses of martial rule, which angered Marcos, the President said.
“Dahil sa paghahayag niya ng katotohanan, pilit pinatikom ang kanyang bibig sa paraang laganap at kinasisindakan ng madla: ang malupit at marahas na kamay na bakal ng diktadurya (Because he exposed the truth, they tried to silence him in a way that would strike fear among the people: (by using) the iron fist of the dictatorship),” he said.
Mr. Aquino also took the occasion to personally apologize to the Diokno family for the senator’s imprisonment.
“Alam po ninyo, ang sumulat ng artikulo, tatay ko lang. Ang pinarusahan, tatay ko at saka si Senator Diokno. Nadamay lang ho si Senator Diokno dito, at baka ho never kaming nagpasalamat sa inyong pakikisama at humingi ng tawad sa pagkakadamay n’yo. Kaya publicly humihingi ako ng paumanhin sa ngalan po ng aming pamilya (It was my father who wrote that article but they punished him and Senator Diokno. Senator Diokno was collateral damage and we’ve never had the chance to express our gratitude for your solidarity nor have we apologized for dragging your family into this issue. So I am publicly offering an apology on behalf of our family),” the President said.
He added: “Our experience is shared by thousands of families who suffered the wrath of martial rule. Their relatives were arrested or had disappeared, and have yet to be found to this day.”
But the country is in a different situation now, the President said, as he urged the military and all Filipinos to cherish freedom and uphold human rights.
“Patuloy sana nating isabuhay ang paninindigan ng akin pong ama at ni Senador Jose Diokno, at ng mga nagbuklod sa Edsa. Pinatunayan nilang posible ang pagtutuwid sa sistema nang walang pagdanak ng dugo (I hope that we continue to live the conviction shown by my father and Sen. Diokno, and by all the people who gathered at Edsa. They proved that it’s possible to correct a system without bloodshed). With a report by Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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