Press Release
August 20, 2008


As the nation commemorates the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. on August 21, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the sum of his patriotic deeds and supreme sacrifices makes him an authentic hero and should serve as a reminder about the meaning of his life, especially of his epic death.

Pimentel describes Ninoy as a man destined for greatness who had left a legacy of marvelous achievements in his multifaceted career which preceded "the greatest performance" of his life - his assassination on August 21, 1983 at the hands of assassins.

He said Ninoy, before his death, was enjoying the comforts, the safety and the freedoms as a political exile in that bastion of democracy, the United States . And yet he said Ninoy decided to come home against the advice of his family, friends and political associates who knew about the threats to his life.

"Ninoy said he wanted to take the extra mile for peace in the land and convince President Ferdinand Marcos that it was time to end martial law and restore the country to its democratic moorings," said the senator from Mindanao .

Pimentel voiced the opinion that if Ninoy had succumbed to the siren calls for him to come home, it was because "the heavens had decreed that it be so."

He said Ninoy believed had to come home and meet his fate. "If it is my fate to die by an assassin's bullet, so be it," Ninoy said shortly before a gun felled him on the tarmac of the international airport that now bears his name.

Pimentel said the shot that killed Ninoy reverberated throughout the country but instead of scaring the people with the awesome display of martial law power, it freed them from their lethargic acceptance of dictatorial rule and roused them to a fever-pitch revulsion.

In 1986, or three-years after Ninoy's assassination, the Filipino people rose up in peaceful revolt, forcing the dictator and his family to flee the country and go into exile in Hawaii. Their departure heralded the return of democracy to the land.

"These are matters of fact that in my mind make Ninoy truly a hero, a instrument of God, of the fates if you like, whose death purchased for the nation the rights and liberties that we now enjoy in the country," Pimentel said.

Noting the fortuitous events in the life of this great man, Pimentel said Ninoy, from his early years as a young man, had already showed signs of fast tracking his life with heavenly support.

"He talked fast, worked fast and lived fast. And the heavens apparent complicity to his agenda of speed in everything that he did opened the gates of opportunity for him," he said.

Pimentel said Ninoy, as a 17-year old journalist of the Manila Times, was given a lifetime opportunity of covering the Korea War in the early 1950s. Before turning 20, he successfully negotiated the surrender Luis Taruc, the supremo of the Huk rebels, a task entrusted to him by then President Ramon Magsaysay.

Ninoy was 19 days short of the required age when he was elected mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac. He was subsequently disqualified but it became a plus factor because the incident indelibly etched his name in the minds of voters of the nation as a young man to watch, Pimentel noted.

In 1959, Ninoy was elected vice governor of Tarlac and two years later, the provincial governor gave way to his assumption as governor. In 1967, Ninoy won as senator, the only Liberal Party survivor in the Nacionalista Party's rout of the opposition candidates. His opponents tried to unseat him by claiming he was under age at the time of his election, but the Supreme Court ruled in his favor by pointing out he was already of age when he assumed office.

The opposition stalwart said the supreme sacrifices of Ninoy presented Philippine society with "a heroic dimension" that it sorely needed at a time when it was needed most.

Pimentel recalled that months before Ninoy's assassination, "foreign wage had started to air scurrilous statements" that the Philippines was a nation of 40 million cowards who did not have the courage to stand up to one-man rule.

"That observation, it must be said, was not true at all. There were people who fought the martial law regime in various ways - some peaceful, others violent. But it was only the assassination of Ninoy that gave a nationally recognizable face to the heroic dimension of our society," he said.

Quoting the philosopher Jean Baudrillard who asked "What is a society without a heroic dimension," Pimentel said:

"Ninoy Aquino offered his life to answer the question and in the process proved the skeptics wrong. He also showed that he was right along with those of us who believed in our people that indeed the Filipino was worth dying for."

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