Mayor Joy’s Ninoy Aquino Day message: ‘May we find it in our hearts to do public service the way he did’

August 21, 2019

To Vice Mayor Gian Sotto, members of the Quezon City Council, Chairman Rene Escalante and Executive Director Ludovico Badoy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the family of Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., representatives from the Office of the President, ladies and gentlemen, a very pleasant morning.

Today we gather at this memorial site to lay a wreath to honor the late Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Quezon City is honored that Senator Ninoy, as he is widely known, and his family have lived here along Times Street at West Triangle. Walking distance lang po doon, sa kanto ng Quezon at Timog Avenue sa South Triangle, ay marangal na nakatayo ang kanyang monumento.

Pero sino nga ba si Ninoy? Hayaan nyo po akong balikan ang kanyang naging buhay.

Bata pa lang si Ninoy ay nagpamalas na sya ng katangi-tanging galing sa iba’t ibang larangan. He was 17 when he worked as a correspondent for the Manila Times to the Korean War. With his exemplary journalistic skills, he garnered the Philippine Legion of Honor when he was just 18 years old.

At 21, Ninoy became a prominent advisor to defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay. He studied law at the University of the Philippines but later on returned to his career in journalism. In 1954, he was appointed by President Ramon Magsaysay as a personal emissary to Luis Taruc, the leader of the Hukbalahap group of rebels. Ninoy was able to secure Taruc’s unconditional surrender.

Nagsimula naman ang kanyang political career nang mailuklok bilang mayor ng Concepcion, Tarlac noong 1955 sa edad na 22. Kalaunan ay naging bise gobernador sya ng lalawigan at gobernadora.

Bilang isang senador sa ikapitong kongreso, siya ang pinakamatinding katunggali sa potitika ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos, at isa sa mga pinakaunang inaresto matapos buwagin ang Kongreso at ideklara ang batas militar noong 1972.

He was convicted on charges of murder, subversion, and firearms violations by a military kangaroo court. He went on a 40-day hunger strike to protest the injustices by the military tribunal system. Kahit pa bumagsak ang kalusugan ay nagpatuloy ang trial laban sa kanya. November 25, 1977 nang mahatulan sya ng guilty on all counts. He was to be executed by firing squad but his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

From prison, Ninoy continued to play a major organizational role. He founded a new political party, known as the Lakas ng Bayan o LABAN. It enjoyed huge public support but failed in the election due to manipulation. Nonetheless, It proved that Ninoy could still act as powerful political catalyst even from a cell in solitary confinement. He was a serious threat to the Marcos dictatorial regime.

Ninoy was sent near Boston around the year 1980 but continued to write news articles and make public speaking appearances where he eloquently criticized the Marcos regime. He spent the next three years in exile near Boston before deciding to return to the Philippines. In his undelivered speech, he said, “I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence.”

Upon arrival at the then Manila International Airport, on August 21, 1983, Ninoy, as he left the airplane and amidst several military men who stood guard, was assassinated through a shot in the head.

On this day, 36 years ago, Ninoy died courageously in the name of people’s rights and freedom inspiring a movement that catapulted the Philippines to the forefront of democracy. But more than the popularity, what we have gained is democracy that empowered the masses to exercise their civic duties and gave power to their voices.

As a lawmaker and as a Filipino, he did not sit quietly on human rights violations and widespread corruption that tainted the Marcos regime and that left the country in debt and poverty.

Hanggang sa araw na ito ay pinapahanga ako ni Ninoy. Nagsisilbi syang pagiging lider na totoong maglilingkod at magbibigay inspirasyon ko sa lakas at boses sa mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng good governance.

I enjoin everyone to reflect on Ninoy’s commitment that stems from his profound love for the country and its people. May we find it in our hearts to do public service the way he did and protect the democracy earned for and handed down to us. May Ninoy’s selfless deed make us public servants, realize democracy’s fullest meaning for our people.

The market vendor who makes honest living is worth our extra hours in advocacy. The mother who tends to her children while her husband toils with his passenger jeep is worth our dedication to public service. The city hall employee who goes to work early and was never late is worth our zeal and commitment. The Filipino is still worth dying for.

Let’s take the lead from Ninoy’s life.

Thank you.