The rage and strong single-mindedness bordering on obstinacy which characterizes the CARMMA campaign to demonize Bongbong Marcos brings to mind just that kind of belligerence unleashed against President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the turbulence of the 70s, but with just one difference. The campaign against Marcos then was directed from below, while the campaign now is conducted from above. As betrayed by the recent commemoration of EDSA 1, where CARMMA openly mobilized forces, what else gives the direction but Malacañang. As in all warfare, the protagonist that has the higher ground has the advantage.
But Ninoy succeeded in demonizing Marcos despite having the lower ground. Precisely, and this should be cause for our gravest concern. If Ninoy suceeded in demonizing Marcos from below, all the more must his son–steeped in Ninoy’s tradition of mindlessness and utter disregard for the people’s welfare like the Yolanda victims, the massacred SAF 44 commandos, the suffering SSS pensioners, and many others—be able to do anything he wants to do with Bongbong now that he is on top.
Will CARMMA then succeed in damning Bongbong with the aim in view of frustrating his drive to the vice presidency? And if it is bound to succeed, exactly by what means do they intend to do it?
The possibilities horrify. Bongbong appears not about ready to take the CARMMA attack sitting down. In terms of warm bodies, his appears to be warmer, even flamed by filial, ethnic and cultural fires, compared to the people of the Yellow Cult who have been known to derive strength mainly from the sponsorship of that ogre called US imperialism.
But precisely because Bongbong is strong gives much reason for our horror. The director from above has the immense power of the state to ensure the CARMMA objective is achieved. And he is an Aquino, son of the man who despite being below Marcos in 1971, in one stroke of political genius succeeded in placing Marcos utterly on the defensive.
Pertinent to this topic is the following excerpt from the essay cited above:
The Plaza Miranda bombing
The most shocking event that rocked the nation in 1971 was the Plaza Miranda massacre.
Here are pure facts of the incident. It was the proclamation rally of the Liberal Party for its senatorial and Manila local candidates in the mid-year elections that year. Present were all the Liberal Party local candidates and the party’s entire senatorial ticket. Absent was the LP secretary general and star of the show, Ninoy Aquino.
Ninoy’s absence strikes one as quite odd. As Senator Jovito Salonga says about Ninoy, “Siya ang aming star. Dahil pagka siya ay nakita ng tao na nasa stage na, naghihiyawan ang tao ng bomba. Gusto namin ay bomba. (He was our star. Because whenever the people spots him onstage, the people shout bomba. We want bomba.)”
That August 21, 1971, bomba did explode in Plaza Miranda.
Two powerful grenades rocked the rally. One missed the stage, blasting people on the spot, killing eight, among them a 10-year-old girl vendor, and seriously injuring 120. The other grenade landed onstage, maiming all senatorial candidates, the most critically injured being Sen. Jovito Salonga and Sen. John Osmeña.
By this time, the conflict between Marcos and Ninoy had intensified so that their respective positions on the incident became the focus of the people’s attention. Who had the more credible story and who told that story in the more convincing way?
On other occasions before the Plaza Miranda bombing, Ninoy had enthralled as much as thrilled throngs of listeners with theatrics on the ostentations of Imelda – her jewelry, her shoes and hand bags and parasols; had enflamed audiences with statistics on corruption in the Marcos conduct of government; and had particularly appalled the nation with his expose of the Jabidah Massacre, which killed all but one of 60 Muslim youth allegedly recruited and trained for an invasion of Sabah to regain the territory for the Philippines.
These exposes provided the backdrop for Ninoy’s revelations that the Plaza Miranda bombing was a step toward the full-blown implementation of Oplan Sagittarius, the plan Ninoy alleged as the scenario for the institution of military rule in the country.
Subsequent events appeared to bear Ninoy out in the propaganda war. Two days after the Plaza Miranda carnage, Marcos suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and indeed by virtue of it proceeded immediately to arrest a number of activists without the customary warrants. And Ninoy had a heyday condemning the writ suspension as a prelude to martial law.
On the other hand, Marcos accused the Communist Party of the Philippines as the perpetrator of the massacre. According to Marcos, the CPP carried out the bombing in order to advance its design of toppling the government and taking over political control of the country. Since Marcos had on various occasions accused Ninoy of coddling the communists, if not being a communist himself, he, too, had a leg to stand on in his battle with Ninoy for credibility in the eyes of the nation. By equating Ninoy with the communists and then accusing the communists of being the perpetrators of the Plaza Miranda bombing, Marcos cleverly impressed upon the nation that it was, in the end, Ninoy who masterminded the gruesome dastardly act.
In point of logic, Marcos’ slant was quite sound. If it hadn’t been Ninoy who planned it all, why was he safely away when the bombing took place? Normally, as secretary general of the party conducting the rally and as the perennial star of LP public meetings, Ninoy was expected to be at the Plaza Miranda occasion even much earlier than the others. True, there was this wedding celebration he was attending at the precise time of the bombing, still he could have easily prioritized the Plaza Miranda LP rally, it being expectedly for him the most urgent concern that evening.
In point of truth, Marcos’ equating Ninoy with the communists did have, too, a substantial measure of it. But not after nearly two decades would proofs surface that such Marcos equation of Ninoy with the communists were substantially valid.
Testimonies of CPP top brass
Beginning July 1989 or thereabouts, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Justice and Human Rights chaired by Senator Wigberto Tanada conducted a joint hearing aimed at ferreting out the truth in the Plaza Miranda bombing. Invited to the hearings were former stalwarts of the CPP Ruben Guevarra, Ariel Almendral and Pablo Araneta.
As a backgrounder, it must be cited that in 1972 the CPP sent a delegation to China to work out a shipment of arms to the left insurgency in the country. But the arms shipment aboard the old fishing vessel named MV Karagatan was botched and much of it fell into the hands of the Philippine military. The arms shipment fiasco formed part of the immediate reasons why Marcos declared martial law in September 1972.
The bungling of the MV Karagatan operations was traced by the CPP to an alleged mutiny led by one Danny Cordero that prevented many operatives from carrying out their mission of transporting the arms from the vessel to the interior of Isabela jungles. As a consequence, government forces discovered the operations.
Eventually, Cordero was tried by the CPP for the alleged offense of mutiny. Guevarra and
Almendral were members of the military tribunal constituted to conduct the trial; Guevarra was the tribunal chairman. Araneta was one of three accused of the mutiny offense. Cordero was found guilty and sentenced to die; the other two co-accused were meted lighter punishment. In a desperate attempt to avoid the death sentence, Cordero declared that he had done a great mission for the party so that he did not deserve to be executed. When questioned what mission he was talking about, Cordero said he was one of three party operatives who bombed Plaza Miranda.
Read deeper through sworn testimonies on the CPP complication, hence, by Marcos’ equation, Ninoy’s, too, in the Plaza Miranda Bombing, in my column tomorrow and beyond.