Ninoy Aquino

Robredo urges Filipinos: Honor Ninoy Aquino’s sacrifice by standing up for rights

Michelle Abad
As Filipinos face the challenges of the pandemic and continuous threats to democracy, Vice President Leni Robredo tells Filipinos to draw strength from Ninoy Aquino’s sacrifice

Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday, August 21, called on Filipinos to honor the sacrifice of the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. by standing up for their rights, among other acts of courage.

Robredo made the call in her message for Ninoy Aquino Day on Saturday, which marked the 38th year since Aquino’s assassination on August 21, 1983.

Ang hamon sa atin ngayon: Siguruhin na mananatiling buhay ang bunga ng sakripisyong ito,” said Vice President Leni Robredo.

Mula sa pagharap sa mga hamon ng pandemya, hanggang sa paninindigan para sa ating mga karapatan, sa bawat pagkakataon, nawa’y ipakita nating sulit na sulit ang sakripisyo ni Ninoy para sa Pilipino,” she added.

(Our challenge now is this: We must make sure to keep the fruits of his sacrifice alive. From facing the challenges of the pandemic, to standing up for our rights, at every chance, let us show that Ninoy’s sacrifice for the Filipino was worth it.)

The Vice President noted that the commemoration of Ninoy Aquino Day takes on an added layer of sadness this year, as his son, former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, died in June.

Aquino, one of the staunchest critics of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, returned to the country after three-year exile in the United States, on August 21, 1983. His homecoming was meant to solidify opposition against Marcos’ authoritarian rule.

He was shot dead upon his arrival, on the airport tarmac.

Robredo urges Filipinos: Honor Ninoy Aquino’s sacrifice by standing up for rights

Aquino’s death sparked the 1986 People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos from power.

‘The Filipino is worth dreaming for’

The Vice President said in Filipino the country celebrates the “courage shown by Ninoy when he chose to turn his back on his personal comfort to sacrifice his own life in the name of freedom” – a “sacrifice that changed the course of our history.”

Robredo said in Filipino that Aquino, his wife the late former president Corazon Aquino, and son Noynoy “all fought for one advocacy: a prosperous, just, and humane society that respects the rights and dignity of every Filipinos.”

“They collectively pursued this vision; they showed what we all know to be the truth: That the Filipino is worth dreaming for,” Robredo

Opposition senator Leila de Lima said that Aquino could have just decided to continue living quietly with his family in exile in the US.

Puwedeng hindi na siya bumalik ng bansa para sa tahimik na buhay kasama ang pamilya. Pero pinili niyang ituloy ang laban para sa demokrasya, para sa hustisyang ipinagkakait sa mga Pilipino, at para sa kalayaan ng Pilipinas,” De Lima said in a statement.

(He could have decided to never return to the country and live a peaceful life with his family. But he chose to continue the fight for democracy, for justice that had been withheld from Filipinos, and for the restoration of Philippine democracy.)

Meanwhile, Senator Kiko Pangilinan said that Aquino’s assassination, which happened when he was a teenager, opened his eyes to the dark realities the country had faced.

Doon ako biglang napaisip na matindi ang nangyayari sa bansa noon. At doon namulat ang aking mata sa pang-aabuso, sa pagmamalabis, sa karahasan na nagaganap noong panahon ng diktadurya,” said Pangilinan.

(That was when I suddenly realized the grave situation of the country back then. And that was when I opened my eyes to the abuse and violence that happened during the dictatorship.)

Pangilinan called on Filipinos to find strength in Aquino’s courage.

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer with the investigative unit of Rappler. She also covers overseas Filipinos and the rights of women and children.