On August 21, 1983, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was returning home aboard China Airlines flight C1-811 after three years of self-imposed exile in the United States. Six years earlier, he was convicted by a military court for subversion, murder, and illegal possession of firearms. Aquino was sentenced to death by firing squad, and was jailed until he was allowed in 1980 to undergo heart surgery in the US.

The military was alerted of Aquino’s homecoming, to which, upon instructions by Gen. Fabian Ver, they drew up Oplan Balikbayan: a “total security system that envisions minimum exposure of subject” and “if properly implemented… shall be able to ensure complete security of subject.” Around 1,199 officers were assigned to provide security, crowd control, intelligence, and surveillance in the area; however, no medical group was assigned in case of emergency.

Aquino was aware of the danger he faced upon his return. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, and escorted by journalists. “You have to be ready with your hand camera because this action can become very fast,” Aquino told them. “In a matter of three or four minutes it could be all over, and I may not be able to talk to you again after this.”

Aquino’s words proved true. As he alighted the plane escorted by two officers of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM), he was shot point-blank at the back of his head. An AVSECOM van took him to the Philippine Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. “Nasingitan ang mga tauhan natin (they slipped past our men),” said General Ver.

In this clip, we see the body of Rolando Galman, clad in blue, on the tarmac. Galman was accused of being the killer. Ninoy’s sister Tessie is also seen awash in disbelief. Outside the terminal, a throng of supporters eager to welcome Aquino, including filmmaker Lino Brocka, were chanting “We want Ninoy!” until they received the grim news.

A government spokesman recounts the events of the assassination. Aquino’s body was left in its bloodied state for viewing by thousands of Filipinos. “The united opposition strongly condemns the brutal and treacherous murder of Senator Benigno S. Aquino while he was at the Manila International Airport and in the custody of the military,” says new opposition leader Salvador Laurel in a press conference.

Three days after Aquino’s death, Marcos established a short-lived commission to investigate the incident. Another commission was created that came to the conclusion that the assassination was a military conspiracy. While a number of military officers were charged with murder, they were acquitted a few months later.

On 10 December 1987, by virtue of RA 6639, Congress renamed Manila International Airport to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in memory of the slain senator. His portrait was also placed on the 500-peso note, which was officially reintroduced a few months earlier on 21 August.