By Martin Sadongdong
Former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III led the commemoration of the 34th death anniversary of his father, the late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., at the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque City Monday with yet another tirade to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
In front of hundreds of family, friends, members of the Liberal Party and supporters, Noynoy particularly criticized the death of 17-year-old senior high school student Kian Loyd delos Santos at the hands of policemen in Caloocan City.
Noynoy recalled how Lorenza Delos Santos, mother of Kian, stated the bitter feeling of having been a parent who had to bury her own child and likened it to her father’s assassination on Aug. 21, 1983.
“Masakit lang kako kahit 34 years na tapos baka bumalik yung tatay mo, makita kayo, hindi tapos ‘di ba? Parang hindi malinaw eh, parang ‘yon pa rin ba ang pinoproblema natin (It’s just hard to accept that after 34 years and your father might come back, see them, right? It seemed unclear, it’s as if it is still the same problem that we are facing),” Aquino said, referring to the seemingly never-ending issue on democracy.
“Ano bang makikita ng tatay ko? Binabasa ko po ‘yung storya ni Kian Delos Santos sa mga dyaryo na nakikita ko, sa CCTV doon nakita ang pangyayari. Nabasa ko lang ho ‘yung pahayag ng nanay, isang OFW. Sabi niya, hindi ko alam kung tama talaga ako sa nabasa ko, wala raw dapat magulang na maglilibing sa sarili niyang anak (What would my father see? I was reading the story of Kian Delos Santos in newspapers, the CCTV (closed-circuit television) which caught the incident. I read his mother’s statement, who is an OFW (overseas Filipino worker). She said, I don’t know the exact words from what I read, no parent should bury their own child),” he added.
Aquino likened the situation to when his father was shot dead at the tarmac of then Manila International Airport and how her grandmother, Aurora Lampa Aquino, grieved the death of her child.
“Maalala ko lang ho 34 years ago, ang lola ko, nanay ng aking ama, isa sa tinitingala na para bang sa ingles ho ‘source of strength’ (I was reminded of what happened 34 years ago, my grandmother, who is the mother of my father, was a person we looked up to, our ‘source of strength’),” he stated.
“Noong araw pong iyon siyempre nasa airport siya sasalubungin niya yung anak niya, ganadong-ganado siya makita, matagal tagal niya pong ‘di nakita. Tapos nandoon na po siya sa grounds sa airport kung saan binalita sa kanyang napaslang nga ang aking ama (That day, she was at the airport to meet her son, she was excited, she never saw his son for a long time. Then she was there at the grounds of the airport where she learned the news that her son was killed).
With this, the former president called on Duterte to conduct a thorough and speedy investigation to give justice to the grim death of Delos Santos.
“Nagugulpi pa, nakikiusap na ano bang sabi ‘bukas may pasok pa ako.’ Nakakagimbal. Pero pinaroroonan naman tayo dahil trabaho natin bilang mambabatas muna bilang pangulo ay kailangan ng imbestigasyong kaukulan para naman hindi haka-haka ang mangyari. Ngayon ang importante sa imbestigasyon ay ‘wag naman umabot ng pagkatagal-tagal. ‘Yung matagal na imbestigasyon imbes na nagpapalinaw, eh nagpapalabo ([Kian] was reportedly mauled, he was pleading, what did he say ‘I have class tomorrow.’ It was grim. But our job as legislators, as a president is to conduct an investigation to avoid hearsays. Now what’s important in the investigation is not to take too long. A very long investigation, instead of shedding light to the incident, just makes it blurry),” he disclosed.
Delos Santos was shot dead by policemen in an anti-illegal drug operation in Caloocan City last week.
Previously, Noynoy had criticized Duterte’s bloody approach to solve the problem on illegal drugs and said he should consider taking a more humane approach in dealing with the situation as it seemed to be ineffective.
Duterte said it was an insult to say that nothing seemed to happen when the war on drugs cost the lives of several lawmen just to eradicate the illegal drugs pestering the nation.
A mass attended by the Aquino siblings — Noynoy, Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris — was held before the tomb of Ninoy. It was celebrated by Caloocan bishop Amboo David.
Attendees also include Vice President Leni Robredo, former LP standard bearer and Interior and Local Government secretary Mar Roxas, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, Senator Bam Aquino, Senator Antonio Trillanes and former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim.
The former president, meanwhile, thanked Duterte in his “heartfelt” message to his father and advised him to take time to read his own message and reflect on it.
“Sana, kunware, iwan niya sa mesa niya, time to time basahin niya dahil parang napaka-heartfelt naman ng sinabi, ma-remind. Ako marami ako dating babasahin na iniiwan sa drawer sa mesa sa opisina ko dahil palagay ko magandang-maganda yung sinabi at kailangan tandaan (I wish, for example, he leave the note in his table, from time to time read that heartfelt note for him to be reminded. I have a lot of readings that I left in my drawer in my office because I consider them really good and worthy of remembering),” he said.
Duterte, in a statement, earlier said that Ninoy “fought for what is right and just” throughout his career.
“History is witness to how Ninoy’s work as a journalist and a politician drove him to effect positive and meaningful changes in our society. Throughout his career, he fought for what is right and just. Up until the very end of his life, he inspired a peaceful revolution that resulted into the liberties we enjoy today,” he said.
“Even at a time when hope was lost, he remained steadfast in his struggle to restore democracy through non-violent means. His deeds have taught us that we should always aspire for the common good — even if one must go against the grain — and do what is necessary,” he added.