Aquino Fact Checks

FALSE: Ninoy Aquino found guilty of treason

Rappler
FALSE: Ninoy Aquino found guilty of treason
The charges against Aquino for which he was convicted in 1977 were for illegal possession of firearms, murder, and violations of the Anti-Subversion Act. Treason was not included.
At a glance
  • Claim: Former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was found guilty of treason.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Aquino was convicted in 1977 of illegal possession of firearms, murder, and violations of the Anti-Subversion Act. The charges against Aquino did not include treason.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The claim was found in a post made on September 23 in the Facebook account of Richard Camarinta Dy, with about 849 reactions, 411 comments, and 5,200 shares, as of writing. 
Complete details

A post on the Facebook account of Richard Camarinta Dy made on September 23 said that former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., also known as Ninoy Aquino, was found guilty of treason. 

The post reads: “FACT! In Nov 25, 1977 after 5 years of trial, Ninoy Aquino was finally CONVICTED of TREASON for the crime of: (1) collaborating with Malaysia in developing Mindanao Secessionist and National Communist insurgencies since March 1968, and (2) he disturbed the democratic process of the election when he masterminded the bombing of Liberal Party’s campaign in the Plaza Miranda in 1971.”

As of writing, the post has about 849 reactions, 411 comments, and 5,200 shares. 

The claim is false. 

Aquino was found guilty in 1977 by a military court for murder, illegal possession of firearms, and subversion, as reported by several news agencies, including foreign-based ones, such as the Washington Post, Bangor Daily News, and The Daily Sentinel. These were also acknowledged in a profile of Aquino in the Official Gazette. (READ: LOOK BACK: The Aquino assassination; LIST: False claims of Juan Ponce Enrile on Martial Law)

The details of the charges against Aquino can be found in six charge sheets filed with Military Commission No. 2, the military court that tried Aquino and his co-defendants, on August 14, 1973. Some of the contents of these charge sheets can be seen in G.R. No. L-37364 on May 9, 1975, of the case known as Aquino v. Military Commission No. 2 in which Aquino asserted that the Military Commission No. 2 had no authority to put him and his co-defendants on trial. 

In G.R. No. L-37364, endnote number 3 contains the details of the charges against Aquino in each charge sheet: Criminal Case No. MC-2-19 for illegal possession of firearms; MC-2-20, MC-2-21, MC-2-23, and MC-2-24 for violations of the Anti-Subversion Act; and MC-2-22 for murder. 

None of the charges against him were for the specific crime of treason, which is described in Article 114 of the Revised Penal Code. There was also no mention of Malaysia in the charges, which was mentioned in the Facebook post to be the country Aquino allegedly collaborated with. 

Aquino was sentenced to death, but his execution by firing squad was never carried out. He would later be allowed to travel to the United States with his family to seek treatment after a heart attack in 1980. 

After staying in the US for three years, Aquino returned to the Philippines. Upon his return, he was assassinated on August 21, 1983, at the airport that now bears his name. 

Rappler has fact-checked several claims about the Aquino family before. Fact-checked claims specifically about Ninoy Aquino include the claim that he was killed by euthanasia and that he died as a Malaysian citizen. – Percival Bueser/Rappler.com

Percival Bueser is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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