By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday recognized the sacrifices of the people who died in fighting for freedom during Martial Law like former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. as the nation commemorated his 36th death anniversary.
“Thousands of Filipinos fell during the dark years of dictatorship, resisting till their last breath the cruelty and corruption it brought. Thousands more were estranged from their families, were thrown into prison, were subjected to brutality and humiliation. Many of them remain nameless and unheralded in our memorials and history books,” she said.
“So when we celebrate the 21st of August, it is not just Ninoy Aquino we remember, but all those like him, both the nameless and the heralded, who gave of themselves so that we could be free,” Robredo added.
Aquino was one of the most prominent voices who fought former President Ferdinand Marcos, whose only son and namesake was defeated by Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race.
Ninoy was assassinated on August 21, 1983, at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport (now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) upon his return from a three-year self-exile in the United States.
His death led to the overthrow of Marcos three years later, and the election of his widow, Corazon Aquino, as president.
In her message, Robredo remembered Aquino for his courage to die for his country in restoring freedom.
“Ninoy Aquino was a Filipino who gave his life for his country. His love for his homeland was seen not in easy talk or slick PR stunts, but instead blazed brightly through long years of imprisonment, of exile, and in the end, of martyrdom,” she said.
“Many talk about being willing to die for our country. Ninoy was one of the courageous few who actually did,” Robredo said.
The Vice President warned against historical revisionism being done to besmirch Aquino’s martyrdom.
“These days, it has become fashionable among certain quarters to dismiss the significance of Ninoy’s sacrifice, or worse, to question the validity of the movement it inspired. These days, there are those who insist, out of self-interest or ignorance, that the Marcos regime ‘was not so bad after all,’ pushing a revised version of history that is not only dishonest but dangerous,” she said.
Robredo considers Aquino as one of the influential people in her life.
Robredo recalled his death marked her “own political epiphany” for her to see the “urgency of the struggle against the dictatorship and the imperative for all Filipinos to take a hand in the grand effort to reclaim our freedom.”