Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ninoy Aquino, the Plaza Miranda Bombing and Japanese Collaborators

AUGUST 21 is the double anniversary of the Plaza Miranda Bombing (1971) and the Assassination of Ninoy Aquino (1983) . Conrado de Quiros and Manolo Quezon, commemorated these events in their own widely imitated ways.

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!


Jego said...

(2) Who told Ninoy about it so he could avoid being there?

This is presuming that Ninoy knew Plaza Miranda was going to be bombed that's why he arrived late. A conspiracy theory worthy of a bestseller, DJB.

"She doesn't have it in her [to do a Marcos]." [Teddy Locsin] also points out that unlike Marcos, GMA does not completely dominate the AFP...

But she doesnt have to dominate the AFP to do a Marcos. If she is dominated by the AFP-PNP, doing a Marcos is well within the realm of possibility. To appease the generals.

Dave Llorito said...

its a lot more difficult to declare martial these days. the borders are more porous, and the internet makes it difficult to silence dissent. no one is his/her right mind, even the generals, would contemplate declaring martial law.

mlq3 said...

personally, i don't think martial law is the option they'd explore, it would still be charter change.

anyway, concerning those accused of collaboration, the public then did make distinctions between those it continued to respect, even if they served in the occupation government while public sentiment remained overwhelmingly against the japanese, and those the public believed had crossed the line. aquino was perceived to be genuinely enthusiastic, not een reluctant and dutiful, unlike say, bocobo.

manuelbuencamino said...


I believe Joma ordered the bombing.

And CDQ didn't address who done it.

But your second question, that's foul. That out of bounds. You are making unfounded assumptions and casting aspersions on Ninoy's character. You are in effect saying he fed his friends to the dogs and those secret dealings and Cory allowing Joma a Utrecht exiles are the continuation of a collaboration began by Ninoy. That's low DJ, As low as Joma's frame-up of Marcos.

Deany Bocobo said...

i didn't make that up, but i'm not sure where i got the idea, must not have been salonga's book. but think about it, he was the leader of the Liberals and everyone was expecting him there. Why wasn't he. Only those in the know about the plot could've tipped him off right? Why?

I don't necessarily subscribe to this theory, but remember he was accused of dealing in arms with the CPP NPA.

Maybe you were reacting to the further theory that Cory released Joma out of gratitude is that implausible.

Do you think Ninoy ever told her who saved his life in 1971?

manuelbuencamino said...

You do subscribe to the theory that Ninoy was tipped off

"I don't necessarily subscribe to this theory, but remember he was accused of dealing in arms with the CPP NPA"

An accusation. Period. Where is your moral consistency on the presumption of innocence?

"Do you think Ninoy ever told her who saved his life in 1971?"

How do you know there was a "who" there?

"Only those in the know about the plot could've tipped him off right?"

Yes. But how do you know he was tipped off?

Do the decent thing DJ. Correct yoour post. Attack CDQ all you want for ignoring Joma's handiwork but spare Ninoy the character assassination through innuendo.

Deany Bocobo said...

Is this stuff new to you?

Do you think Ninoy was a saint?

Look, I admit right here, these are pure speculations (though I didn't dream them up myself).

There are loose ends and many mysteries still surrounding Ninoy.

For example, just exactly WHO killed him and WHY?

Like the Plaza Miranda Bombing, we believe it was Marcos.

They say that Galman shot him at the airport (apparently only ONE bullet killed Ninoy).

Even assuming Marcos put him there to do that, WHY would marcos choose an NPA hitman?

Regarding why he wasn't at Plaza Miranda at all, what is your theory?

Deany Bocobo said...

I was out of the country at the time of Ninoy's death so I never saw his body after he was killed. Up until the other day, I was under the impression that it was "bullet riddled" like all those soldiers each took a shot at him.

What is your recollection?

Anonymous said...

This too is speculation from a chain of speculations.

I think the left claimed that they warned him.

As to whether it is true?

I do not know?

The left may claim anything like the killing of this person and that person and they may deny it as well.

Deany Bocobo said...

so why wasnt he at plaza miranda?

(1) he was late.
(2) he was warned by the Left.
(3) he was warned by the Right.

If he was late, then the NPA team who threw the grenades were either blind and didn't realize he wasn't there, or they knew he wasn't there and threw the grenades anyway.

If he was warned, it had to have been by someone who knew about the plot and apparently didn't warn anybody else. Lucky the NPA's aim was bad and one of the grenades fell off the stage, (though the person(s) killed offstage may disagree with me.)

I just can't believe Marcos warned him, if Marcos was responsible.

But if Marcos was responsible, he would have used much deadlier force no?

In other words, the Plaza Miranda Bombing does not seem like it was intended to kill to many people.

If Marcos wanted them all dead, he could've done it somewhen and somewhere else. Or he could just have blown up the whole stage.

But three months from a midterm elections, why would Marcos have done such a half-assed job of murder?

Naah, Plaza Miranda was a provocation by the NPA to radicalize the situation and polarize social forces.

but here is something LIVE.

Does Cory Aquino know the answers to these questions?

What has she said? Does anybody know?

manuelbuencamino said...


Stop hiding behind insinuations., Declare what you believe.

Do you think Ninoy threw his partymates to the dogs?

Deany Bocobo said...

I honestly don't know, MB, but I doubt he was in on the plot. Gerry Roxas who was there was a major rival for LP's leadership, but that wouldn't have given him enough motive.

So okay, I don't believe he threw his partymates to the dogs.


What matters is that it is certain that Ninoy knew that a bomb was going to explode and that he arrived very late, after the bomb exploded.

The late Ka Nards Rodriguez told me that he used to bring slightly wounded NPA combatants to the house of Ninoy to be treated, recuperate and hide for a while, and the seriously wounded to Capitol Hospital (near Ninoy's house) with the full knowledge and cooperation of Ninoy.

Ka Nards also told me that it was a certain Danny Cordero who threw the grenades in Plaza Miranda and that a comrade warned Ninoy not to go to Plaza Miranda as a bomb would explode.

This comrade who warned Ninoy is known to Ka Popo Villanueva. Listen to Ka Popo Villanueva's daily radio program on 1494 khz am entitled "Kayo Na Po Ang Bahala" from 12nn to 12:30p.m.

Unknown said...

Jovy Salonga said (and I was THERE) that it was not Marcos who did the PLaza Miranda bombing but the CPP NPA. He said this when he was Senate President. He also added that he believed that martial law would have been worst w/out Juan Ponce Enrile.

Unknown said...

I believe Ninoy's story was that while attending Doy Laurel's party, his bodyguards caught chatter on their 2 way radios that led them to conclude that they were being monitored & someone was keeping track of their location & progress...fearing that someone was planning an ambush. They went back for their long arms. Thus causing further delay on their arrival at the miting de avance. The grenade attack was the work of the CPP-NPA, I don't think Ninoy was warned. I believe Danny Cordero took the best opportunity to attack and it did not matter who was there or who wasnt.

arturo l. dan said...

I have a feeling (and only a feeling) that Ninoy either got wind of the plot to bomb the miting de avance or was warned in advance but only a few minutes in advance. just barely enough time to prevent him from getting anywhere near the place. i worked with a guy who told me he saw Ninoy in meetings with NPA and NPA supporters in Hagonoy, Bulacan. I remember seeing footage of Ninoy arriving at the scene a minutes after the grenades went off. I vaguely remember that he was holding a gun. what I can not forget was the look on his face. I have a feeling that Ninoy was put in a very tight spot. He was at the very least sympathetic to the cause of the CPP-NPA and was open minded enough to have open lines of communication with them. i find it very plausible that he harbored wounded combatants at their home. the expression on his face for me showed that he was absolutely horrified. was he asking himself "How could they do this?" did he blame himself for not doing everything or enough to warn his party mates? was it that guilt burden plus his love for the Filipino that convinced him to perform that very conscious act of self-sacrifice at what was then the MIA. so my take is:
- the CPP-NPA planned and executed the bombing
- Ninoy was not in on it but was warned at the last minute
- Ninoy willingly returned to face certain death as expiation for his guilty conscience.

it is all so heartbreaking.