THE LATE former President Ferdinand Marcos had no hand in the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing that crippled the political opposition and shortly led to the declaration of Martial Law by the then emerging strongman.
The assertion was made over the weekend by Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list, who was one of those severely wounded when bombs exploded off at the Liberal Party (LP) campaign rally at the famous square in Manila’s Quiapo district 45 years ago on August 21.
At a weekly breakfast meeting in Quezon City, Atienza announced that he will clear Marcos of allegations that the former president had masterminded the deadly attack in a privilege speech this afternoon, August 22, and identify those behind the bombing.
He said he will try to connect the bombing to the 1983 assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., who, until his death on August 21 of that year, remained an LP stalwart.
Atienza, also the House senior deputy minority leader, made the announcement even as he threw his support behind the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the Marcos family to bury the remains of its patriarch at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
“I have fought Marcos. After the explosion at Plaza Miranda, I was picking up body parts of my colleagues. I was cursing Marcos. What we knew after all these years is that Marcos was the brains behind the bombing. We blamed him but what we did not know was that we should be blaming somebody else,” Atienza said at the breakfast meeting at Anabel’s on Tomas Morato Avenue.
The lawmaker said he hopes his privilege speech will help heal old wounds without prejudicing whatever cases that supposed political enemies of the Marcoses then and now will file in court against the former leader’s family.
In backing the President’s decision to have Marcos’ remains buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery, Atienza called on members of the Duterte Cabinet to follow his lead.
Also supporting a hero’s burial for Marcos were former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Dionisio Santiago, Lakas ng Manggagawa labor center Secretary General Teri Tuazon and Moro National Liberation Front youth convenor Zulfikar-ali Bayam, who attended the weekly breakfast forum.
Atienza, a former mayor of Manila, chided those “who enjoy the confidence of the President and yet oppose his decision to honor Marcos with a hero’s burial.”
While he clarified that he is in no position to dictate on members of the Duterte Cabinet, he pointed out that the President’s decision is motivated by “the pursuit of national unity and reconciliation.”
Among those who previously objected to Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani were Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, who, as congressman of party-list Anakpawis in 2011, was co-author of House Resolution 1297 that opposed the plan.
Opposition lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao had urged Taguiwalo, Mariano and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., a former anti-Marcos activist, to speak up against Duterte’s decision.
Reports have said that the burial would take place on September 18.