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Aquino Assassination

Aftermath of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination (1983)

AP Archive

2021

Aftermath of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination (1983)

AP Archive

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.

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AP Archive, “GS 24 8 83 Aftermath of Assassination of Opposition Leader, Benigno Aquino in Manila,” YouTube video, 3:38, April 10, 2021.

Mr. and Ms. Special Edition: The Aquino Funeral, September 2, 1983

Various authors

1983

Mr. and Ms. Special Edition: The Aquino Funeral, September 2, 1983

Various authors

This Special Edition of Mr. and Ms. magazine shows the bloodied body of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. who was murdered in August 21, 1983. The issue also contains pictures of the thousands of people who attended his public funeral. Magazines such as this one were instrumental in exposing the excesses of the regime of President Marcos. The funeral was seen as the beginning of the end of his regime.

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The Aquino Funeral (Special Edition), Mr.&Ms. magazine, September 2, 1983.

Malaya, September 1-4, 1983

Various authors.

1983

Malaya, September 1-4, 1983

Various authors.

This special issue by the liberal newspaper, Malaya, covers the funeral of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., which was attended by millions of Filipinos. The headline refers to this event “as a new chapter” in Philippines history. For many, this was the beginning of the end of the regime of President Marcos.

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“Millions pay last respects for Ninoy,” Malaya Newspaper, September 1-4, 1983.

The Situation in the Philippines [1984]

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

1984

The Situation in the Philippines [1984]

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

This comprehensive report was based on two visits of several members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations between May and July of 1984 in order to assess the situation in the Philippines. Key observations were made particularly on the conduct of the elections for the National Assembly, the current political climate, the ongoing insurgency, and the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr.

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U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Staff. The Situation in the Philippines. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984.

Philippines Free Press, August 21, 1993

Philippines Free Press News Team

1993

Philippines Free Press, August 21, 1993

Philippines Free Press News Team

This special issue by the Philippines Free Press, entitled “Tribute to a Hero,” revisits the life and work of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who was assassinated on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport 10 years before on his way home to the Philippines after years in exile in the United States. The magazine contains many articles that examine the legacy of Aquino and ask questions related to his murder.

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“Tribute to a Hero,” Philippines Free Press, August 21, 1993.

Tempo News, August 24, 1983.

From Tempo News team

1983

Tempo News, August 24, 1983.

From Tempo News team

Retrieved from the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Digital Archive, this issue of the Tempo news tabloid was published three days after the assassination of oppositionist Benigno Aquino on August 21, 1983. Noting that Tempo was owned by Marcos Crony Hanz Menzi, researchers may find interest in observing the layout of media and information provided by mainstream media concerning events that took place following the political killing and ensuing investigation. At immediate notice one finds space granted for the statement of the slain figure’s wife, future president Cory Aquino, information regarding the funeral and the buildup of visitors to pay their respects, as well as initial speculations as to the culprit.

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Tempo News Tabloid. Vol. 2. No. 232. 24 August 1983.