The statues of former President Ferdinand Marcos and former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. placed near each other at a plaza in Paniqui, Tarlac are visual representations of the town's attempt to put an end to longstanding conflict between the two political families.
This was according to Tarlac City Representative Charlie Cojuangco in reaction to a report published on Monday stating that people have been curious that the statues of the two icons in Philippine politics were placed in one area.
At the town plaza, the statues of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, national hero Jose Rizal, Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio, and the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.
In an interview with GMA News Online, Cojuangco said one reason the statues of Aquino and Marcos were put up in the plaza was because the former is a "son of Tarlac" and the latter is "one of the Ilocano favorite sons."
Paniqui is geographically near and has a historical connection to Pangasinan, a province in the Ilocos Region. The town is also the Ilocano-speaking side of Tarlac, according to Cojuangco.
The other reason, Cojuangco said, is that the local government wanted to have a "real reconciliation" between the names Aquino and Marcos.
"We keep talking about reconciliation. Pero every time you hear the name Ninoy Aquino or Ferdinand Marcos, we always want to pit them [against each other]. Pero kami, we are thinking, why not put an end to it and practice real reconciliation. That's a visual aid," he said.
"It's a visual aid that even if we had differences before, it's high time we come together. Let's focus on the good, not always on the bad," he added.
Cojuangco admitted that he spearheaded the project, but only after consulting with the local government unit.
"Before we did that, may mga sound-off kami, wala namang negative. Bago namin ginawa, may parang konting pulong-pulong, wala namang [kontra]," he said.
"So far there is no negative. So if there's no negative, what is the issue? There is no issue," he added.
Cojuangco also expressed frustration over the fact that a lot of Filipinos have not moved on from what happened at the time when both Marcos and Aquino were still in politics.
"The generation today, the millennials, when you ask them ano bang ginawa ni Marcos, ano bang ginawa ni Aquino, they will recite to you bits and pieces. But they're not in touch anymore with what these two did during their era," he said.
"So it is not there to make all of us forget as if we have amnesia. Whatever bad or good happened, nangyari na yun, it's part of our history. It's just a symbol in Tarlac," he added.
Aquino was a staunch critic of Marcos during the years of his authoritarian regime. He was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon arrival at the then-Manila International Airport, now Ninoy Aquino International Airport, after a three-year exile in the United States.
Aquino's death sparked various protests leading up to the first EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, during which Marcos family fled the Philippines to Hawaii and Aquino's wife, Corazon, was catapulted to the presidency. — BAP, GMA News