PNoy: Seeing my father's bloodied corpse, I thought of vengeance
In his speech at the inauguration of the Aquino-Diokno Memorial and Armed Forces of the Philippines Center for Human Rights Dialogue (AFP-CHRD) in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Aquino recounted how he was filled with anger upon seeing the lifeless body of his father, late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
“Lalong nag-alab ang galit ko sa diktadura nang makita ko ang duguan at bugbog na mukha at katawan niyang nakahandusay sa tarmac,” Aquino said.
Ninoy earned the ire of Marcos for speaking up against the stronman's ruthless regime. When he decided to come back in 1983 from self-exile in the US, an assasin's bullet ended his life moments before he could even put his feet on the tarmac.
“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.
Aquino also admitted that until now, he finds it difficult to watch video clips of his father’s last moments.
“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,” Aquino said.
On Friday, Aquino formally opened the Aquino-Diokno Memorial and the AFP-CHRD, where he said “a lot has changed” since he visited his detained father there.
“Ang laki na talaga ng ipinagbago ng lugar na ito. Nakatatakot na lugar ‘ito noong 1973 lalo na kung trese anyos ka lang,” Aquino said.
In 1973, Ninoy and another late Senator, Jose “Pepe” W. Diokno, were held in solitary confinement from March to April in Fort Magsaysay. They were removed in secret from Fort Bonifacio, where they were held prisoners since September 22, 1972, a day after Martial Rule was declared.
The site now holds a museum with the reconstructed detention cells of Ninoy and Pepe Diokno, and conference rooms named after the two statesmen.
Wax replicas of the two senators give the museum an "eerie" atmosphere, that Aquino said should serve as a reminder of the past, and as a challenge to move forward.
“Malayo na po ang narating natin sa kasalukuyan. Ang lugar na ito na minsang ginamit ng diktadura upang pagmalupitan ang nanindigan para sa katwiran, ay isa nang pananda na magpapaalala sa atin sa mga kamalian ng nakaraan,” he said.
During his speech, Aquino also took the opportunity to publicly apologize to the Diokno family. He said their patriarch’s detention was collateral damage.
“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,” he said.
Aquino also praised the military, for turning around and making a recovery from the dark days of Martial Law.
“Ang Hukbong Sandatahan na dati’y kinasangkapan sa paniniil ng mga Pilipino, maaasahan nang kabalikat sa pangangalaga sa kapakanan ng sambayanan,” Aquino said.
Martial Law continues?
However some groups continue to criticize the Aquino administration, saying that despite the end of Martial Law, the atrocities that marked Marcos's irong rule have continued to happen.
Human rights group KARAPATAN in a statement said that “there are currently 385 political prisoners in the country, 170 of them arrested and detained under the Aquino government.”
According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), during the Marcos regime, there were 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 800 enforced disappearances, 70,000 political prisoners and 35,000 torture victims.
BAYAN also called on Aquino to dismantle AFP's Oplan Bayanihan, which according to BAYAN-Northern Mindanao deputy secretary general Antonio S. Pasco Jr. is a “sugar-coated version of Gloria Macapagal-[Arroyo’s] Oplan Bantay Laya.”
“[Oplan Bayanihan legitimizes] the use of paramilitaries and army auxiliaries. These forces, he said, have been the number-1human rights violators in the rural areas since the Marcos era. — LBG, GMA News