My last talk with Ninoy Aquino

36

President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s strong words in Boston, while recalling his father’s three year- medical furlough there, and his assassination at the Manila international airport upon his return on August 21, 1983, compel me to reveal for the first time a conversation I had with Ninoy Aquino at Harvard in the summer of 1982.

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As presidential spokesman, press secretary and information minister from 1969 to 1980, I had engaged Ninoy on television and in the print media many times before martial law. We stood on opposite camps, but we were never enemies. His sister Lupita Kashiwara, who used to be my neighbor, coursed some of her more urgent messages to Marcos through me. Ninoy and I spoke to each other again on June 21, 1977 when he was brought to Malacañang from his detention cell in Fort Bonifacio, by Brig. Gen. Josephus Ramas, commanding general of the Army.

In 1980, I resigned from the Marcos Cabinet after ten years of arduous work. But I remained in the interim Batasang Pambansa, where I had been elected as the first of 12 regional assemblymen for Bicol (Region V) in 1978. The following year, I flew to New York to speak before the Asia Society. On that visit, I met some of the Filipino “exiles” in Manhattan, like Ernie Maceda and Heherson Alvarez.

They suggested that I take a train to Boston to meet with Aquino. My schedule did not permit it, and I wasn’t sure I had much to discuss with Aquino anyway. There were three reasons for this.

First, of the two potential presidential materials from the Liberal Party, I thought Sen. Gerry Roxas, Mar Roxas’s father, (although he was never jailed or connected to the insurgency), was the more solid, the more substantial personality.

Second, although I now stood with the parliamentary opposition, I did not think I would be doing right as a former Cabinet member to put myself under Aquino.

Third, I was fighting Marcos by my lonesome in Manila, while they were safely ensconced in the comfort of their pads in the US. What guarantee did I have that none of the “steak commandoes,” as the exiles were then derisively called, would feed Malacañang with false stories about my meeting with Aquino?

A year later, I found myself at the Harvard Institute for International Development attending a program on parastatals—public enterprises. This was long before Osborne and Gaebler came out with their bestseller “Reinventing Government;” before privatization, liberalization, deregulation and tariff reduction became the mantra and dogma of the day.

The subject of parastatals absorbed my African colleagues, but left me cold. Yet given my political situation at home, it gave me something else to do. I wasn’t sure I would have done better learning Hebrew. Being past my precocious years, I had to do as much reading as I could just to keep up. This required regular visits to the Library or the Harvard “Coop” to buy some books.

On one of these visits to the “Coop,” I met Aquino. He came in with a lady who quickly receded unto the shelves as soon as we greeted each other in an “abrazo.”

He started talking at once, but he was quite distracted by reports about the coming visit of the UP president Edgardo Angara. “Who is this guy to be coming here with an advance party?” he asked. And he identified the advance party as our good friend and star columnist Louis Beltran, of happy memory, who was then teaching mass com at UP.

I tried to tell him that Angara was probably fundraising for UP, and not doing any long-distance or advance campaigning for the presidency. This tiny arrow found its mark, and he dropped the subject immediately. But he reproached me for failing to call him as soon as I arrived at the university. I explained politely that my program left me no time outside of study. Besides–and this was where my usual tact left me–I said I did not quite know how to reach him.

This was lese majeste. How dare I come to his city without knowing how to connect to its most important guest! I instantly stood reproved. I said sorry.

Then he said that a mutual friend of ours—-a Makati dentist who shall remain nameless here—-had written him to say that Marcos was now quite ill, and getting secret treatment from specialists who were being smuggled inside the Palace, without anything being said about it officially.

I said that even before he left Manila, Marcos was already having health problems, which the Palace tried very hard to keep from leaking out. But it would be a mistake, I said, for anyone to anchor their political plans on Marcos’ state of health.

He instantly flared up. “I’m not that stupid, do you think I’m stupid? I’m not going there to fight Marcos. No one can topple him right now. Until the economy crumbles, it would be crazy to think of fighting Marcos,” he said.

After a short pause, I asked him if he had seen former Sen. Jose Wright Diokno, his fellow detainee, on BBC. It’s a BBC film titled “To Sing Our Own Song” and about the Philippines, I said.

“Pepe Diokno? BBC? Where did you see this film?” he asked.
“At the Harvard TV station,” I said.
“How did you get there?”
“An American woman from class took me.”
“Who’s she? What’s her name?”

I gave him her name. She appeared in class one day, sat next to me, introduced herself as someone who had worked in the Philippines, and started talking to me in Filipino. Then, she asked if I would be interested in watching the film.

Let us just use “Louise Lewis,” for purposes of this story.
“Louise? Why that girl holds office right next to me. How come she showed this film to you, but not to me?”
“You should ask her,” I said.
“What about Pepe? Did they give him at least two minutes?”
“No, it’s a 50-minute documentary, and he’s the one narrating,” I said.
“The whole thing?”
“Yes, the whole thing.”
“This Lewis girl is really, really crazy.”

The next day I told Lewis about this conversation and repeated Ninoy’s question to her. Why did she invite me, but not Aquino?

“Come on, Kit,” she said. “Doesn’t he know he’s already passé?”

I stopped the conversation right there. I did not know what she meant, and I did not want to know. Who was she anyway? What was she trying to say about Aquino? And why was she saying it to me?

In their book, Subversion as Foreign Policy: The Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia, the couple Audrey R. Kahin and George McT. Kahin, quoting Diokno as their source, talk of Ninoy working for the CIA at a very young age during the so-called Permesta revolt against President Sukarno in the late 50s. He reportedly brought arms to the rebels from a third country, set up a rebel radio station in Indonesia, and opened his wife’s family plantation, Hacienda Luisita, as a training ground for the rebel pilots. This CIA operation failed after an American pilot was shot down, and under intense interrogation, sang like a canary.

This subject came up during the 1978 Batasan campaign when Ninoy ran for the Batasan from inside his cell and Enrile accused him of working for the CIA. He replied by saying that he never worked for the CIA, but only with the CIA. And it ended there.

Aquino’s distinction exists, but it is not helpful to him at all. The British MI-6, Israel’s Mossad, the German, French, Belgian, Scandinavian, Australian, Canadian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Malaysian or even Philippine intelligence agency could work with the CIA, and probably routinely do. But a young Filipino, who is not even part of his country’s intelligence agency, can only work for the CIA.

Now, was Lewis trying to say something about this when she said Ninoy was already burnt out—passé? And what was she trying to say to me?

Interestingly enough, while attending an executive program on national and international security at Harvard Kennedy School a couple of years ago, Vice President Binay and I were hosted by a kindly Filipino doctor one weekend in his home in Boston. He said he used to host Ninoy in the same home during his three years there.

After lunch, he took me to his den, where there were some pictures of Aquino. Then, pointing to a leather sofa, he said, “This is where Ninoy used to tell us, he was once the youngest CIA agent in the world!”

And his president-son has made him our national hero.

fstatad@gmail.com

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36 Comments

  1. Manipulado lahat ng Committee 300 kaya para tayong iginigisa sa sarili nating mantika. Ganyan manggamit at magpaikot ang mga kano, kunwari kakampi pero sila pala ang kalaban.

  2. Sir, is it true that BSM l was the one who told Malaysian authority about Opns Merdeka? If so, does pnoy ll also work with the CIA that is why he was mad at Kirams when they attackd lahad datu to demand the increase the rental of their anncestral land?

  3. Gaya ng matagal ko ng sinasabi Marcos & Ninoy are both CIA members & the mastermind of Ninoys death will never be known kasi CIA ang me pakana lahat ng ito. Sa anong dahilan? Marcos is dying & USA need a new puppet. Maglaban man ang magkabilang panig kabig parin sila kasi pareho silang me taya. Look at GMA now, she embarassed USA by pulling out our forces from the coalition in Iraq.

  4. If the late Pres Marcos was refused of interment at the Libingan ng manga Bayani for only his human right record during martial law. Why a traitor of the country as the good writer described be given the recognition of being there at the funeral home of the heroes. Is it not unfair?

  5. It is only in the Philippines that a traitor can be a national hero. No wonder why so many corrupt officials in the government because they are also dreaming for the title.

  6. Leodegardo Pruna on

    P-Noy should know the inside out of all these and would either be pretending not to know it and continue blurting out invective against who he assumes to be his enemies or he was out of this world the whole time the events have been unfolding. Kit may himself have some credibility problem but definitely still sharp and knowing of past important events either as a public servant or scholar. But, surely the TRUTH WILL COME OUT AND AS P-NOY SAID IN HIS REMARKS ABROAD, THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE. May God in His goodness and mercy bless the Philippines.

  7. Si Ninoy CIA ?! Sabi ni Marcos at ibang galing sa underground nung martial law, si Ninoy, Kumander Dante at si Joma Sison ang nagtayo ng NPA nung 1969 sa Hacienda Luisita. Kaya pala si Joma imbes na nasa China, Russia, Cuba o North Korea nagtatago eh nasa Netherlands, isang NATO member na matatag na kakampi ng Kano. Kaya pala pag ang Israel na kanilang kakampi maski ilang libo na Palestinians na ang pinapaslang hindi sila tinitira ng human rights violation ng Kano pero tayo makanti lang ng konti ang mga SUBVERSIVES binabato na nila tayo ng HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS agad ! Tinatag nila ang NPA TO KEEP OUR GOVERNMENT PERMANENTLY OFF BALANCE para pag nagmatigas eh gagasolinahan nila ang NPA at ang mga binayaran nilang NGOs para yugyugin tayo hanggang sa bumigay o bumagsak ang government natin. Niloloko lang tayo ng Kano, at ng mga alagad nila Ninoy at Cory. Yung mga kaliwa na hindi alam na ginagamit lang sila ng Kano, dapat mag isip isip na. Salamat sa iyo Kit, at nabulgar narin ang matagal ng sikreto ng mga demonyong yan.

    • Bonifacio Claudio on

      Ayon sa ihip ng hangin noon eh kaya hindi makakilos kilos ang mga military provincial commanders na gusto ng sumalakay laban kina Enrile & Ramos sa Camp Crame ay dahil sa mga CIA na kunwari ay kampi kay Marcos pero pinipigilan ang mga military commanders na gumalaw habang hinihintay ang order ni Marcos sa Palasyo. Alam ng CIA na hindi mangyayari yun kasi pinutol na nila ang media communication facilities ni Marcos. Nasagot na rin ang katanungan na sina Enrile & Ramos sa Camp Crame lang ang may kagustuhan ng coup d’état na naback-up ng mga kanong CIA. Ang susunod na tanong ay: sa anong dahilan bakit nagtalusira ang kano kay Marcos at huli na ng mapagtanto ni Marcos na tinalikuran sila ng America? Ang best na sumagot ng buong katapatan ay sina Enrile & Ramos. Buhay pa naman sila, ‘di ba?! Pero siyempre puwede rin si ex-Senator Kit Tatad kasi ay mahihinuhang may mga katibayang pinanghahawakan si Ginoong Tatad sa kanyang mga pahayag, so credible lagi ang kanyang mga paliwanag.

    • The communist party in the Philippines was actually organized by Joma Sison and a certain Indonesian who graduated in the University of the Philippines and continued further his studies(Masters) so that he would have reasons to overstay in the Philippines. Those were the days, when Joma and said Indonesian started organizing the CPP. I HAVE PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE because said Indonesian used me as a cupid to meet a classmate of mine in UP. AFTER, Joma and said Indonesian had formalized the CPP, we accidentally crossed paths with the two at then the CINERAMA Theater(first to have installed an escalator in Manila), now ISETANN, but the Indonesian ignored me. A month thereafter, the CPP was in the open. Now part of history. Joma can confirm who was the Indonesian. His mentor and conspirator. The period was in the ’60’s.

  8. ninoy is nothing but a made-up false hero and the so-called aquino myth is simply an invention of the oligarchs and the media who want to have the entire population under their influence and control, always using marcos (and now gloria arroyo) as the convenient vilain versus the “righteous” land-grabbers and slave-drivers from tarlac

  9. Sen.Tatad, I’m mot a pro Pnoy or pro Marcos, but your revelations is not knew that many of our politicians have links to CIA or other country’s Intelligence agencies or were collaborators during the Japanese time. In fact, there were rumors and many believed but not me, that then Speaker Jose Laurel Sr., Pres. Manuel Roxas, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos were Japanese collaborators and that Binigno Aquino I and Mariano Marcos were “Makapili ” during WWII. And after the WWII, Ramon Magsaysay, Manny Manahan and Raul Manglapus or even Binigno Aquino, Jr, who were all close friends of Magsaysay were CIA agents. But the worse rumor, Sen. Tatad, was that after you announced the proclamation of martial law was that ” anak ka daw sa labas ni Ferdinand Marcos” kaya ikaw ang na appoint pinaka batang Press Secretary in our history”. I don’t believe these rumors if no proofs like the woman dentist, whose name you don’t want to reveal. LETS MOVE ON, SEN.TATAD, WALA NG SIRAAN AT KATUTUHANAN LANG, PARA UMUNLAD ANG ATIN BAYAN, DI BA SIR?

    were Japanese,

  10. If indeed you have spoken to Ninoy you should have named the personalities of those people mentioned so your statement can be validated instead of using fictitious names and dead persons who cannot corroborate your statement. Otherwise, it’s pure hogwash you being a famous propagandist for concocting lies during the Marcos regime.

  11. Cmon Kit, we know you know more than this, Ninoy working for CIA is not news anymore but a FACT, even his pal Joma knows it(mother and son pardoned him remember?)He has fooled many with his machine gun english except Marcos who could have easily wiped him out but DID NOT, and even warned him of his impending death. It is for this reason and the obvious mothers-and-son mysterious disinterest to pursue the case that made EDSA revolution as the biggest MYTH in our history. We made heroes out of this myth – the heroes of yesterdays are todays BIGGEST CROOKS. I wonder though what Mr. B was thinking when he sat at that sofa – he’s hero is a dud?

  12. Mr. Tatad is weaving another fairy tale, this time claiming that he was “fighting Marcos by my lonesome in Manila.”

    Minimizing the corruption and brutality of the Marcos regime while simultaneously defending Catholic doctrine? Calling Stan Lee’s Superhumans… the Amazing Walking Contradiction!

  13. From being a communist to being a CIA agent. What else we do not know of this man and we already treated him as a hero, more than we treated Jose Rizal. Shame on us!

  14. The main purpose of Kit Tatad, a Marcos man though-and-through up to this day – I’m sure he gets a generous allowance from the Macoses, I his colum, is to cst aspersion on Ninoy I am not an admirer of Ninoy or PNoy, but I find the story of Kit Tatad insufficient because they are all hearsay and appear to be fabricated to suit Kit’s purpose, i.e., to splash mud on Ninoy. They are stateents that only he, Kit, can validate; no one else. No possible third party validation – the way it I written. the least I can describe it is “yellow journalism”. If that is the quality of writing that appears on this broadsheet, we can consign both writer and newspaper to yes – that receptacle of the solid waste.

  15. victor m. hernandez on

    Reminder of Julius Ceasar’s, ” The evil that men do lives after them and the good is oft interred with their bones”, the teachings at the hill ” there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed”. And so we are reminded “to build our houses on rocks, and not on sands”.

  16. It all comes together. Cory Cojuangco’s family were already close to the Americans even before WW2. She studied in the US when most Filipinas would’nt even be educated. Her family was chosen by the Americans to buy the Hacienda Luisita through Ninoy Aquino and with the blessings of President Magsaysay. Magsaysay died prematurely in a plane crash courtesy of the CIA after his work against the Huks was a done deal, again thru Ninoy. Ninoy already knew he was going to die because of his heart ailment so he arranged his death by assasination with the help of the CIA. Thats why his family after finding out the real story did not pursue the real killers.
    It is the most logical conclusion. His mother was President and he himself is Presiisdent but they have done nothing to uncover Ninoys killers. why? The answer is hiding in plain sight.

    • Why will they tell the world who really killed Ninoy? What’s good for them in telling the truth about it?

      Admitting the truth about Ninoy’s death will just catapult their family and consanguinities in the stage of universal laughing stock state.

  17. Emiiano F. Dacayanan on

    During Ninoy’s terms of governor of Tarlac, I have had several occasions to deal with him. When the province hosted the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association Meet, during his second term, I wrote about him and his administration in the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association Meet Bulletin (CLRAA Bulletin) I remember writing that “Ninoy calls the shots in Tarlac.” He must have liked the article which he distributed among his guests – fellow Governors,Congressmen, and other VIPS in the dais close to the gate of the athletic grounds. When he spotted me among the milling crowds entering the field, he stood up, raising his hands and, shouted, “Hi, Emil.!” All eyes were focused on me and I felt my feet not touching the grounds At the time, I I was told later that he was at odds with the late Senator Jose Roy over the political hegemony in Tarlac. Then just a Head Teacher, my superintendent, Eulogio de Guzman who was in league with Senaor Roy, accosted over the article. I told Ninoy about it, and he just laughed.. We again met just before Matial Law in Camiling townin the house of the late Fiscal Aberlardo Milla, then president of the Camiling Lions Club 301-D. When my elder son, Ferdan went to the United States in 1981,1981, I told him to get in touch with him in Boston. He failed to but associated with the Anti-Marcos opposition. It was my son who got the Philippine flag at the Philippine Embassy in Los Angeles during the 1986 Revolution where prominent political personalities grouped together like Raul Daza, Ricardo Guzman, Sonny Alvarez, Johnny Frivaldo, Ben Aniceto, Danny Lamilla, Nem Santos, Ramon Mitra and others. It was my son who pulled down the Philippine flag at the Philippine Embassy in Los Angeles which he later gave as a souvenir to the former Tarlac Governor, Mariano Ocampo during the Cory Regime. Ninoy and I had had some relationship. I have written about it in my book, “Santa Ignacia: Then and Now,” launched in March this year

    • My 5 officemates in a govt agency, who were just gallivanting around instead of working (one was even involved in pilfering office supplies and equipment), brought home strands of barbed wire taken from the barricades at Mendiola Street just after the Marcoses fled. With that act alone, they already considered themselves fighter against Pres. Marcos.

  18. The allegation of that doctor, if true, may shed light to many questions regarding the life and death of the late Sen, Ninoy Aquino. One question would be: Why was the investigation on his assasination not pursued further during the term of the late Pres. Cory Aquino? I wonder if the sitting president has any inkling on the veracity of that allegation.

  19. Anima A. Agrava on

    A CIA agent became a senator and nearly became president of the Philippines.
    It’s not surprising in our country.

  20. This is quite a revelation indeed! It tells us some facets of the Ninoy Aquino personality which is uniquely his – his arrogance and self-importance and the familiar hubris that his Abnoy son is also exhibiting. No wonder, like father-like son.

    But what is puzzling is Ninoy’s involvement with the CIA. What are his motives? I have personal knowledge of this part of the story because it was revealed to me by someone very close to me way back in the mid-1960’s. I have no problem with the “what” of the story. It is with the “why”, I’m grappling with. Nevertheless, I get it now why during the time of Ninoy’s trial, it was difficult to find Filipinos who were sympathetic to his cause. Even then, Ninoy Aquino was not liked. He was just a blabbermouth without a core who pestered the establishment insubstantially.

    It is dawning on me it was a grave error to think of him as a national hero.

  21. redentor pajara on

    If this is true, we have been duped in believing that he is a martyr for the Filipino cause. And continued to be dupe by his younger generation by the aggrandizement of his son in which by mistake has been elected to the highest post of the land.

  22. Andres R. Samson on

    Same template for all the recruits to the Agency. BSA, Sr did not accomplish anything notworthy as a cub reporter during the Korean Conflict. Yet, the Grand Marion, with the participation of the Korean Government and a former PH President made him a Star where the Abnoy cancelled all other State functions and duties in PH to make the happen. Visits of the Ninoy to Malaysia are documented well enough to link him to the fake Communist Insurgency and Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia, and even the PH claim to Sabah. For instance, why does sister Kris make unannounced visit and contact with the Sultan of Johor? The Sultan of Johor is one of the most intractable Sultans who rotate to fill the seat of the Yan Pertuan Agong in the Malaysian Federation

  23. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Thank your Mr. Tatad for making such a bold revealation about this
    fake hero. At least these people who adore aquino will have the chance
    to learn if they will. However, learning from their attitude for not listening
    to reports that does not favor them, these people, the aquinos will never get it.
    Benigno Aquino, a national hero? Tell that to the marines.

  24. Sadly, those of the Yellow crowd will still refuse to believe that their idol Ninoy was not a hero at all. Marcos was right when he told Mr. Tatad (according to Mr. Tatad himself) when they met in Hawaii that “Ninoy Aquino was not a political enemy but an enemy of the state.”