Conrado de Quiros presents a Cautionary Tale about Presidential authoritarianism by drawing some rough parallels between Marcos and GMA, including a conveniently unfalsifiable theory that Marcos must've decided to declare Martial Law after the stunning defeat of his slate in the November midterm elections of 1971. But his take on the Plaza Miranda Bombing and the ensuing events, is a masterpiece in misdirection and political correctness--
CDQ: "The Plaza Miranda bombing took place in 1971. It was the “miting de avance” [proclamation rally] of the Liberal Party, preparatory to the senatorial elections of November. Two grenades were lobbed on to the stage where the entire Liberal Party slate was, sans Ninoy who had given notice he would be coming late -- yet another monumental, if tragic, irony, for he would be very much present and on time in the second event. The blast killed two spectators in front of the stage and wounded several others. Among those on the stage, Jovito Salonga caught the blast flush in the face and body. The others were wounded in various degrees. Nobody expected Salonga to live...Everyone blamed Marcos for the atrocity..."
There have always been two outstanding mysteries about the Plaza Miranda Bombing that Conrad does not address: (1) Who done it? and (2) Who told Ninoy about it so he could avoid being there?
Ninoy Aquino, it will be recalled, was the standard bearer of the Opposition and the Liberal Party slate in the 1971 midterms, and its presumptive topnotcher. His sudden non-appearance at the Miting de Avance in Plaza Miranda and decision to go instead to the Manila Hotel at the last minute, can only be explained by the idea that someone warned him not to go, someone he believed was telling the truth about a deadly plot to bomb the stage, enough to deter his appearance at what would've been a major political moment in his career.
So who warned Ninoy? We may never know the answer to this one for sure, but we do know the answer that Jovito Salonga himself gives to the first question of whodunit? -- It was NOT Marcos who bombed Plaza Miranda, but the CPP-NPA on Joma's orders and as carried out by no less than a team formed and led by Bernabe Buscayno (Kumander Dante). Why Ninoy may have been saved by Joma himself we may never know either. But the explanation that Ninoy was having secret dealings with the Left is not implausible, and certainly explains why Cory Aquino allowed him to set up the Utrecht Space Station, many years later when she became President in 1986.
Conrad does not mention this and prefers instead to embroider the comfortable old legend that Marcos bombed Plaza Miranda as part of his plot to perpetuate himself in power, because frankly, everyone, including me, was fooled for years into thinking that indeed it was Marcos's doing when all the time it was his accusers and the dastardly act's principal political beneficiaries--the CPP NPA whodunit! The most awful possibility to ponder is: did Ninoy collaborate with the CPP NPA to do the Plaza Miranda Bombing? I don't believe it for a moment.
But I think Conrad was being intellectually dishonest leaving this stuff out just because it doesn't fit the carefully nurtured myth that during martial law it was the communists and the Left who fought Marcos the hardest and paid the dearest price. The truth, as it later emerged, is that the CPP's catacylsm of paranoia near the end of Marcos's reign caused them to kill more of their comrades than Marcos's henchmen ever did.
Manolo Quezon's guest on his ANC show, The Explainer was Teddy Boy Locsin, who disagrees with Manolo's theory that GMA is about to do a Marcos in 2010. Teddy Boy says succinctly, "She doesn't have it in her." He also points out that unlike Marcos, GMA does not completely dominate the AFP and cannot wield it like Marcos did.
Manolo explores with Teddy Boy several important issues like that of the Marcos cronies, whom he likens to those accused of collaborating with the Japanese during World War II, but were "never punished," like Ninoy's own father, Benigno S. Aquino, Sr. and Claro Mayo Recto, whose family fortunes after the war perhaps bespoke of that profitable collaboration and the ironic preference of the Americans for them over the Hukbalahap. There is a strong parallel between the offal stench of ill-gotten wealth left to the Marcos cronies and the unexplained wealth of the clans and families of the Japanese Collaborators of yesteryear.
My own grandfather, Dean Jorge Cleofas Bocobo, former President of U.P. and Pres. Quezon's Secretary of Public Instruction, was one of these, serving in the Supreme Court under the Japanese puppet government, and jailed for a time at Iwahig Prison, later amnestied with the rest of the "Japanese Collaborators."
But when he died in 1965, happily and with no rancor, he smiled at us around his deathbed, and said his greatest legacy to us was a good name.
That good name has always been a heavy burden, because if Lolo was guilty of any crime, it would have to be his UNEXPLAINED POVERTY after a lifetime of service to the Government and the People at the highest, most lucrative levels of public office. As it's first Filipino Dean 1917-1934), the University of the Philippines College of Law Center is named after him.
After the war, he had no vast estates or lucrative businesses, houses, cars and other booty. But America always considered him a very special friend it seems, as many events, occasions and foreign visitors of my childhood proved. So he got to spend the last years of his life doing two great things: writing the Civil Code of the Philippines and translating the Noli Me Tangere and the El Filibusterismo into English, which task I often must've interrupted as a little boy running around his spartan bedroom full of books and magazines, and wondering what it was that made him so tranquil and self-assured, so quiet and understated, yet..superior, like only a true Aristocrat of the Mind can be. I discovered the secret much later for myself: there is no greater freedom and confidence you can have than that afforded by a clear and clean conscience.
I only wish that such a thing could automatically be inherited in our genes!