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President Benigno Aquino III has admitted that he wanted to exact revenge on the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos after his father, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., was assassinated over three decades ago.
In a speech before members of the Filipino community in Boston on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) Aquino compared Marcos and his allies to "rabid dogs who had lost all reason" during the Martial Law years.
"As the only son, I felt an overwhelming urge to exact an eye for an eye," the President said.
"I knew that he was a formidable foe, and the fight would be impossible, but regardless of this, in those moments, all I wanted to do to Mr. Marcos and his camp, was to do unto him as he had done unto us," he added.
Former Senator Aquino was gunned down at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983. The MIA now bears his name.
Aquino's assassination triggered a series of protests that led to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986. The 1986 revolt catapulted his widow, Corazon, to the presidency.
Aquino was calm and composed as he recalled the day of his father's death, which he described as "one of [his] family's lowest points."
The President said he made sure his "emotions [were] in check" before his "homecoming" in Boston, where his family spent Senator Aquino's days in exile during the Martial Law years.
Aquino shared that he first learned about his father's assassination through a television report. He added that the news was confirmed by a family friend from the Japanese consulate.
"This most unexpected news was such a shock that I lost all sensation, and lost track of space," the President said.
He recalled how his family began to lose hope after Senator Aquino's death, adding that Marcos had turned himself into the "sole judge, jury and executioner" during the Martial Law regime.
"There was no such thing as free speech, or freedom of assembly. Accountable to no one but themselves, the dictator, his wife, and their cronies turned the public treasury into their private purse," Aquino said.
"We thought: Was this struggle one that could be won? Will we ever see the fruition of all the sacrifices of all those who have given so much for us to return to our democracy?" he added.
He lamented how Marcos "raped" the Philippine economy and "oppressed" Filipinos through "total impunity to abduct, torture, jail, and kill" critics during the Martial Law years.
'Turn things around'
The President said his family drew strength from Filipinos who saw Senator Aquino's death as an opportunity to start of "a new movement for change"
"After dad died, people stopped caring if they would be declared subversives, the label Marcos gave to anyone he didn’t like," President Aquino said.
He described the EDSA People Power Revolution as God's "beautiful plan for the Filipino people" and a display of solidary by millions of Filipinos.
Aquino vowed to apply the values he had learned during the Martial Law years to ensure continuing reforms in government.
"Now, with a mandate from our people, I have been given the opportunity to apply this idea, and help our country recover from its lost decade under the previous administration," Aquino said.
"Together with the rest of the hardworking men and women of our government and our people, I have been tasked, again by my bosses—our people—to turn things around," he added. — Andreo Calonzo/RSJ/KG/NB, GMA News