Robredo to Filipinos: Honor all freedom fighters on Ninoy Aquino Day

Mara Cepeda

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Robredo to Filipinos: Honor all freedom fighters on Ninoy Aquino Day

Angie de Silva

'Many talk about being willing to die for our country. Ninoy was one of the courageous few who actually did,' says Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said the day the nation commemorates the assassination of the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr is also the time to remember all the nameless Filipinos who fought the dictatorship like he did. 

On Wednesday, August 21, Robredo described Aquino as a “patriot who made the ultimate sacrifice so that our nation could be free again,” but said the former senator was not the only one who opposed the iron-fist rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

“So when we celebrate the 21st of August, it is not just Ninoy Aquino we remember, but all those like him, both the nameless and the heralded, who gave of themselves so that we could be free,” said the Vice President 36 years after Aquino was assassinated.

The former senator was killed on August 21, 1983 on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, now renamed after him.

“In this remembrance, we express both our deepest gratitude for the sacrifices made on our behalf, and, perhaps more significantly, our persistent commitment to defend the freedom they won back for us,” she added. (READ: Robredo: ‘Find courage to claim freedoms Ninoy died for’)

The Vice President also took a swipe against those who have dismissed Aquino’s sacrifice and who have glossed over the killings, disappearances, media oppression, and corruption that marred the Marcos regime. 

“These days, it has become fashionable among certain quarters to dismiss the significance of Ninoy’s sacrifice, or worse, to question the validity of the movement it inspired. These days, there are those who insist, out of self-interest or ignorance, that the Marcos regime ‘was not so bad after all,’ pushing a revised version of history that is not only dishonest but dangerous,” said Robredo.

But the Vice President said the the truth is simple: Aquino was a Filipino who gave up his life for the country.

“His love for his homeland was seen not in easy talk or slick PR stunts, but instead blazed brightly through long years of imprisonment, of exile, and in the end, of martyrdom. Many talk about being willing to die for our country. Ninoy was one of the courageous few who actually did,” said Robredo.

On Ninoy Aquino Day, President Rodrigo Duterte also said the late senator serves as a guide for protecting democracy.

Aquino was one of the most prominent voices who fought the dictatorship of Marcos, whose only son and namesake has filed an electoral protest against Robredo. 

Aquino’s assassination on the airport tarmac inspired Filipinos to protest in the streets. These mass actions culminated with what is now known as the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. (Watch Aquino’s undelivered arrival speech here.) 

His wife, Corazon Aquino, was elected president in 1986. His son, Benigno Aquino III, also served as Chief Executive preceding Duterte. The younger Aquino and Robredo are both part of the Liberal Party. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.