IT’s been a rewarding experience to have written this piece. I am particularly gratified by the hundreds upon hundreds of likes generated by this article which serve to confirm the correctness of the many perceptions expressed herein. I did get a few negative comments but compared to positive ones, the adverse reactions don’t even constitute a pittance. It is with an exquisite feeling of being fulfilled in my motivations for writing about that otherwise terribly misrepresented episode in our nation’s history that I now conclude this article with another excerpt from a hearing.
Excerpt from minutes of the october 18 hearing
MR. ALMENDRAL: … Kinaumagahan ay isang maghapon na naman iyong pa(g)lilitis pa rin.
THE CHAIRMAN: Anong oras nag-umpisa nang kinaumagahan?
MR. ALMENDRAL: Pagkakain lang ho ng agahan.
THE CHAIRMAN: Mga anong oras iyon?
MR. ALMENDRAL: Siguro po mga alas otso, alas nuebe nag-umpisa na ulit. Pagkatapos ay pagdating ng hapon, kalagitnaan ng hapon, ay ubos na ang lahat ng pali-paliwanag ay hiningian na lang si Ka Cris ng huling salita niya kung ano ang kanyang magiging paliwanag. At nagsalita iyong tao. Ang sinabi niya, “Kailan man ay hindi ako magtra-traidor sa partido. Sa katunayan, bilang patunay sa aking katapatan sa partido, ay mayroong isang napakaselan na gawain na itinalaga sa akin ng mga namumunong kasama na hindi ko mababanggit kung ano iyong gawain na iyon.”
THE CHAIRMAN: At pagkatapos niyang masabi iyan, ano ang naging reaction nuong mga nandoon sa hukuman?
MR. ALMENDRAL: Noong masabi niya iyan, iyong isang naka-upo doon sa bandang harapan na may hawak na carbine, si Ka Ambo, ay nagsalita siya. Ang sabi niyang ganyan, “Niloloko mo yata kami, e. Ano iyong sinasabi mong misyon-misyon, e, hindi mo mapapatunayan iyan.”
Ngayon, bilang presiding, si Ka Peters naman binigyan niya ng instruksyon si Ka Cris na, “Sige, ipaliwanag mo kung ano iyong misyon na ‘yon.”
Nag-isip ng kaunti si Ka Cris, pagkatapos sinabi niya, “Ako ang naghagis ng… ako ang isa sa naghagis ng granada sa Plaza Miranda.”
Di, dahil ako wala akong kaalaman tungkol doon at buo nga iyong kaalaman ko, paniwala ko noon na si Marcos ang may kinalaman sa pagbomba ng Plaza Miranda, nagulat ako noon, at palagay ko ganoon din ang naging epekto sa napakarami doon sa kagrupohan.
Walang nagsalita. Kahit si Ka Peters sa pagka-ala-ala ko hindi pa siya unang kumibo, at sinundan pa ni Ka Cris ‘yong kanyang salita. Sabi niya: “Sa katunayan”, sabi n’ya “nandito sa kapulungang ito ang isa pa sa kasama ko doon sa Plaza Miranda. Hindi ko babanggitin ang pangalan n’ya, kung gusto niyang tumayo para patotohanan ang aking sinasabi, bibigyan ko siya ng ilang minuto.
Di tahimik na tahimik na ganyan, wala ring tumayo. Hindi naglaon, nagsalita na ulit si Ka Peters at sinabi niya na na “ayon sa….” Una, sinabi n’ya, tawagin na lang nating PMB, Plaza Miranda Bombing.”
THE CHAIRMAN: Sinong nagsabi n’yan? Sino?”
MR. ALMENDRAL: Si Ka Peters po. “Tawagin na lang nating PMB,” dahil nga sa laki ng – aywan ko kung anong dahilan nila, pero tinawag nilang PMB at tinawag na nga naming PMB ‘yon noon, dahil sabi n’ya, “Itong PMB ay tinukoy ng partido na kagagawan ni Marcos. Kung tinutukoy mo na kagagawan ng partido ‘yan ay isang panibagong usapin iyan.”
Doon sa bagay na ‘yon, hindi na dinagdagan ni Ka Cris ‘yong kanyang pananalita tungkol sa Plaza Miranda at doon na rin natapos, humigit kumulang ‘yong usapin ng pagtatanggol n’ya sa sarili n’ya.
Questions from Jose Maria Sison
In the Senate hearings, Jose Maria Sison was given the right to shoot questions which were amply accomplished by his counsel, Atty. Romeo Capulong. But the questions needed to be submitted first to the joint committees for asking, consonant to Senate rules, by the Chairman himself.
In the October 25 hearing, Almendral reiterated his stand on the Plaza Miranda bombing and to a question by Jose Maria Sison, he made a stirring repartee.
“Okay,” said the Chairman, “The next question. You denounced the CPP/NPA and its leaders particularly Jose Maria Sison in your statement of February 17, 1984. Would it be correct to say, since this date you have declared war against this revolutionary movement and its leaders and vowed to do the best you can to crush this movement. Are you now working or cooperating with the Philippine military, any public official or any other person or group, local or foreign, whose duty, interest or political objective is to crush the Philippine insurgency?”
Although he betrayed hurt sensitivities and a long-lurking exquisite pain within him that needed to be outed, Almendral nonetheless answered in high-bred fashion, succeeding in boomeranging the intended damage of the question while clearly demonstrating the man’s sincerity and purity of intentions.
He said, “If somebody from the right wing did Plaza Miranda, and I knew about it, sir, I will speak against it, sir, and I will lay down my life to testify on that question, sir. It so happened that this Joma Sison is affiliated, sir, with the CPP and presents an idea that he is a communist, sir, but it is not as an anti-communist that I stand before this body nor is it as an anti-communist that I present that statement of denouncing Jose Maria Sison and the bombers of Plaza Miranda, sir. It is the act and the crime of Plaza Miranda that is the thing that I’m questioning, sir. And, you know, sir, they had a favorite saying that Marcos was the best recruiter of the NPA, sir. I think think in the Philippines, the best agent of the CIA is Joma Sison, sir, because what he has done is, he has created a polarization of the Philippine society especially through the Plaza Miranda bombing, and he should be answerable for that crime, sir.”
END OF EXCERPTS
Quite intriguingly, CARMMA makes no mention at all about the Plaza Miranda bombing.
This makes its intention suspect. If you can recall the relatively hidden element of Bongbong’s appointment as chairman of the Philippine Communication Satellite Corporation (PHILCOMSAT) and as such being given a monthly salary of “anywhere between $9,700 to $97,000 (what a fantastic play-safe, a differential of tens of thousands of dollars!), how can you omit the terror of Plaza Miranda when it used to be a favorite whip of Ninoy in his attacks against Marcos. Or have they, as had quite a number already, come to realize that by exposing what actually was a handiwork of Ninoy, they would have to admit that the martial law sparked at the onset by the Plaza Miranda bombing was in effect Ninoy’s evil deed.
Somebody, a respected member of the Fourth Estate, lives to this day to contribute his own testimony. He was a confidant of Ninoy and was onstage in Plaza Miranda in the LP rally that night of August 21, 1971 when he got a radio message from Ninoy.
“I’ve been looking for you. Nasaan ka?” went the call from Ninoy.
“Narito ako sa ibabaw ng stage.”
“Stage! Sa Plaza Miranda?”
“Anong ginagawa mo diyan? Bumaba ka diyan. Bilis!”
And the guy, getting last instructions from Ninoy, “Kita tayo sa Hilton,” hurried off the stage and hied off to the appointed place.
Thanks to Ninoy he escaped the rest that was history.