Senator Leila M. de Lima has recalled the patriotic deeds and sacrifices of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. who inspired many Filipinos to rise up and peacefully overthrow a dictatorship to restore the country’s democracy.
On Aquino’s 36th death anniversary, De Lima urged her countrymen not only to honor his deeds but also, most importantly, to continue his fight for freedom especially now that Mr. Duterte’s leadership becomes reminiscent of the fascist dictatorship.
“Isinakdal si Ninoy ng korte militar batay sa mga imbentong paratang, kabilang ang kasong subersiyon. Malinaw ang layunin nito: Ikulong, gipitin at patahimikin ang mga tulad niyang lider ng oposisyon. Sa kabila ng dinanas niyang matinding hirap at pangungulila sa piitan, pinili pa rin niyang lumaban,” she shared.
“Pinili niyang manindigan kaysa magbulag-bulagan sa tunay na estado ng bansa: ang pagbagsak ng ekonomiya, mga brutal na paglabag sa karapatang-pantao at lalong pagkabaon sa hirap ng mga Pilipino habang nagpapayaman ang mga nasa gobyerno at crony ni Marcos,” she added.
Aquino was among those arrested in 1973 shortly after the imposition of martial law in the Philippines and was incarcerated for seven years.
Following a heart attack, he was allowed to leave for medical treatment in the US and returned to the country on Aug. 21, 1983 when he was assassinated while exiting from a plane at the Manila International Airport.
The lady Senator from Bicol said Aquino could have stayed in the United States or sought political asylum, but he chose to return to his countrymen during the dark chapter of Philippine history.
“Ninoy knew that a death sentence was waiting for him in the Philippines but still opted to return to fight for democracy and end the violence brought by Martial Law and Marcos’ authoritarian rule,” she said.
Aquino’s principles and heroic death inspired many Filipino people to rise up and overthrow the oppressive regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos and later on catapulted his widow, Corazon Aquino, to presidency, in 1986.
De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration’s crooked policies, said the courage and democratic principles of the late Senator Aquino should remind Filipinos to never tire in fighting against a looming dictator who try to take away the freedom of his people.
“Ang prinsipyong ito ni Ninoy ang nagsisilbing lakas at inspirasyon natin ngayon, sa panahong nauulit na naman ang yugto ng karahasan at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan,” she said.
“Ngayon, kung kailan sinampahan ng kasong sedisyon ang mga miyembro ng oposisyon, mga pari, abogado at mga naghahangad ng katotohanan sa mga nangyayari sa bansa—mula sa laganap na patayan, pagbebenta ng ating soberanya, hanggang sa malubha pa ring kahirapan dulot ng katiwalian,” she added.
More than the commemoration of his death anniversary, De Lima said Aug. 21 should be remembered as a day when justice and democracy were attacked, that is why “lagi sana nating ipagtanggol ang ating kalayaan nang may masidhing determinasyon at pananampalataya.”
Considered as the first prominent political prisoner under the present Duterte regime, the former justice secretary continues to fight against injustices and for democracy, even under detention.
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