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Political Killings

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.

Cindy Domingo Oral History Interview

Cindy Domingo

2008

Cindy Domingo Oral History Interview

Cindy Domingo

An interview with Cindy Domingo. Domingo was an important figure in the Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP), a U.S.-based movement founded in opposition to the Marcos dictatorship. Domingo was the sister of Silme Domingo who, along with Gene Viernes, was assassinated on June 1, 1981. The Marcos government was eventually found to be responsible for the murders. Domingo became integral in the Committee for Justice for Domingo and Viernes.

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Interview with Cindy Domingo, The Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project.

Edjop (1986)

AlterHorizons

2022

Edjop (1986)

AlterHorizons

This hour-long documentary tells the life story of student leader turned Communist Party of the Philippines cadre Edgar Jopson. Jopson dedicated his life, intellect, and commitment to the struggle against Marcos until his untimely death in the hands of the military in 1982.

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Alternative Horizons, “Edjop,” Cinemata video, 56:52, May 3, 2022

The Tacbil Mosque Palimbang Massacre: A Reader

Commission on Human Rights

2022

The Tacbil Mosque Palimbang Massacre: A Reader

Commission on Human Rights

This book provides a collection of sources pertaining to the mass murder of Filipino Muslims within the coastal village of Malisbong in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao. On September 1974, during the Islamic Period of Fasting, Philippine Military and Paramilitary forces (including the infamous Christian ilagâ group) attacked a series of coastal villages in Palimbang, detaining a large section of the local male population in the Malisbong Mosque and systematically executing captives over several days. The incident was reported to have caused the deaths of over 1,500 men, with countless women raped on naval barges and elsewhere, and homes looted before being razed to the ground. Featuring declassified government communications, journalistic accounts and survivor testimonies, this reader will be invaluable to those interested in studying the comparative impact of Martial Law on Muslim Mindanao.

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Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission and Commission on Human Rights. The Tacbil Mosque Palimbang Massacre: A Reader (2nd ed). Manila, 2022.

Dark Legacy: Human Rights under the Marcos Regime

Alfred W. McCoy

2001

Dark Legacy: Human Rights under the Marcos Regime

Alfred W. McCoy

Alfred McCoy’s Dark Legacy discusses the extent of human rights violations committed by the Marcos regime and its primary agents of terror, the Philippine military. It is in this work that McCoy records, based on primary sources and data, the regime’s human rights violations to 3,257 extra-judicial killings, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 incarcerated. Aside from analyzing the regime’s record of terror and its implementation of torture methods, the research traces how the Philippine military–as the chief implementors of martial rule–was shaped by the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) resources.

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McCoy, Alfred W. “Dark Legacy: Human Rights under the Marcos Regime.” In Memory, Truth Telling, and the Pursuit of Justice: A Conference on the Legacies of the Marcos Dictatorship, pp. 129-144. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001. [With Permission from the Author]