In FE Marcos village, Aquino hits martial law, Binay
NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – The arch beside the Pag-asa Sports Complex in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, proudly announced it was named “Barangay FE Marcos.”
But a few meters away, President Benigno Aquino III, son of democracy icons Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr and Corazon Aquino, blasted the dark days of martial law, during which the dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos reigned over the country for more than two decades.
On Thursday, February 25, the country commemorates 30 years since Marcos was ousted during the People Power Revolution of 1986. Aquino was in San Jose on Wednesday, February 24, to grace the campaign rally of Manuel Roxas II, the standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), running mate Leni Robredo, and their Senate slate.
Aquino, speaking before thousands clad in LP’s trademark yellow, recounted the experience of his late father, who was among the many high-profile political figures imprisoned during martial law.
The President’s father, an LP stalwart then and a vocal detractor of Marcos, was imprisoned as soon as martial law was declared. In Fort Magsaysay, roughly a two-hour drive away from San Jose, Aquino Sr was detained in solitary confinement for over a month.
Aquino and another senator, Jose Diokno, were held in a high-security detention facility in Fort Magsaysay for 30 days. Their families were only allowed to see them once.
“Nang kami naman po ang mabigyan ng pagkakataong makita ang aming ama, matibay man ang kanyang loob, ay hindi po niya napigilang lumuha…. Sabi niya po sa amin noon, nagdadasal siya sa Birheng Maria na bigyan siya ng huling pagkakataon na makita ang kanyang pamilya. Sa pagkikita naming doon, doon na rin po niya binilin sa akin na ako na ang bahala sa aking ina at mga kapatid,” recounted Aquino, the only son of Ninoy and Cory.
(When we were given a chance to see our father, no matter how strong he was, he couldn’t help but cry. He told us then, he prayed to the Virgin Mary to give him one more chance to see his family. When we met, that’s when he told me to take care of my mother and sisters.)
Diokno and the older Aquino were not allowed to see each other during their confinement, recounted the President. The only way they knew the other was still alive was when one would sing “Lupang Hinirang” and the other would reply with “Ang Bayan Ko.”
The older Aquino was eventually released after more than 7 years. He flew to the United States for medical treatment but returned to the Philippines in 1983. He was gunned down the moment he alighted his plane.
The martial law years are remembered as among the darkest in the country’s history. The Marcoses allegedly pocketed billions in government funds while suppressing dissidents through violence.
#NeverAgain to GMA, Martial Law, Binay?
Aquino compared the dark days of martial law to the administration of his immediate predecessor, former president-turned-Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Kung iisipin, ganyang kadiliman din po ang dinaanan natin sa pamumuno ng ating sinundan, kung saan naglaho ang isang dekada sa ating bayan. Hindi na nga po natin maibabalik ito. Ang magagawa lang po natin: gawin ang tama sa kasalukuyan, at tiyaking hindi na mauulit pa ang kamalian ng nakaraan,” said Aquino
(If you think about it, that kind of darkness also happened under the leadership of my predecessor, wherein our country lost a decade. We cannot bring that back. But this is what we can do: do what is right now and make sure that the past never happens again.)
Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path)” – his administration's slogan for its anti-corruption, good governance, and transparency platform – is in many ways a response to the Arroyo administration, beset with allegations of electoral fraud and large-scale corruption.
In his speeches, especially ones in the context of the 2016 polls and his anointed bets, Aquino has been pushing for the continuation of “Daang Matuwid.” Roxas, Robredo, and their Senate slate’s campaign is rooted is the promise of continuing the supposed gains of the current administration.
As in past speeches, Aquino took a swipe at Roxas and Robredo’s rivals, giving special attention to those with links to martial law.
“Sa ika-9 ng Mayo, haharap tayong muli sa sangandaan, at kailangan po nating magdesisyon. Ang hamon at panawagan sa atin: sipating maigi ang bawat kandidato. Doon ba tayo sa wala pang sapat na karanasan, o sa ngayon pa lang ay naghahari-harian na? Pipiliin ba natin ang kandidatong ang ipinagmamalaki noon ay pagiging abogado sa mga biktima ng Batas Militar, pero hinihikayat po maging katambal niya ang nagsasabing walang dapat ihingi ng paumanhin sa Batas Militar,” he said.
(On May 9, we will once again reach a crossroads and make a decision. The challenge and call for us: scrutinize each candidate well. Do we choose someone without enough experience, or someone who as early as now acts like a king? Do we choose a candidate who boasts of being a lawyer for the victims of martial law but tried to team up with someone who says martial law is nothing to be sorry about?)
It was a dig at Senator Grace Poe, a neophyte legislator; tough-talking Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte; and finally, Vice Mayor Jejomar Binay and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the only son and namesake of the dictator. Poe, Duterte, and Binay are all vying for the presidency while Marcos is running for vice president.
Binay, a human rights lawyer during the martial law era, once tried to woo Marcos to be his running mate.
Aquino did not stop there and went on to hit Senator Gregorio Honasan II, Binay’s running mate: “Nang hindi po siya magtagumpay dito, ang kinuha niyang kakampi ngayon, ay 'yung mismong namuno noon para pabagsakin ang pinaglaban nating demokrasya. Tapos ngayon, gusto po niya tayong paniwalain na gagawin niya ang tama pag siya po ang namuno sa bansa.”
(When he failed to get [Marcos], he recruited his running mate now, the same man who led efforts to bring down the democracy we fought hard for. And now, they want to believe that they’ll do what rights should they lead the country.)
Prior to joining politics, Honasan was a colonel of the Philippine military, aide to former defense minister-turned-senator Juan Ponce Enrile. Honasan was among the leaders of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), those who revolted against Marcos during the EDSA Revolution.
But Honasan switched sides during the time of Corazon Aquino, leading several attempts to unseat her.
Nueva Ecija is one of the country’s most vote-rich provinces in the country, with more than 1 million registered voters for the 2016 elections. Roxas lost in the province to Binay in 2010.
The incumbent governor, Oyie Umali, is a stalwart of the Liberal Party. – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.