Noynoy Aquino as a topic in this blog should have been over, had I not, over the weekend, curiously pored over some clippings of old Philippine Collegian issues when I was part of that publication. I had just finished the previous blog entry on Noynoy’s rebuff of Satur Ocampo’s challenge to the senator to make a public stand for genuine agrarian reform when I serendipitously came across an article that I once edited for the Collegian. The article was written by Laiden Pedrina in August 21, 2000. I was features editor and assigned Laiden to write about it — I remember she was reluctant to write about the topic, which was the varied connections the fallen politician/national hero/guy-on-the-P500-bill had with the Philippine Left.
The article, titled “Was Ninoy red?”, raised interesting historical facts. One was that although Ninoy was not in any way a communist, he at least gave communism a benefit of the doubt. Cited in the article was an essay by Gregorio C. Brillantes in 1986, titled “Consorting with the Reds at Early Age.” Brillantes wrote that when Ninoy was a correspondent for the Manila Times during the 1950s, Ninoy reported on the fear that Asians had on a looming war against the “East and the West” (probably the Soviet Union and the United States) which was much more than fear of the supposed spread of communism. Ninoy supposedly said that “the Western argument that ‘if communism wins, Asians stand to lose their civil liberties’ is meaningless. To the Asian now jailed by the French in the numerous prisons of Vietnam for being too nationalistic, civil liberties have no meaning.”
The quote was used by the Marcos regime to incriminate Ninoy to a supposed series of attacks by the New People’s Army on an hacienda owned by the political rival of his brother-in-law, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., sometime during the early 1970s. Ninoy was accused of aiding the rebellion and, together with then-NPA commander Bernabe Buscayno, was sentenced to die by firing squad in 1977. In a sense, it was not after being exiled to the US and returning home in 1983 that the Marcos regime implemented the sentence on Ninoy.
Ninoy in the course of his political career, of course, made public statements that were deemed anti-left. But rumors still abound, bolstered by those I talked to who really do know what they are talking about: they supposedly had personal knowledge that Ninoy did give support to the burgeoning armed rebellion in 1969 and before martial law was declared in 1972. After all, he was politician in a province — Tarlac — where the rebellion was born. Marcos apparently knew what he was talking about when he accused Ninoy of aiding and abetting the rebellion. Ninoy himself, once asked by journalist Luis Beltran if he was sympathetic to the Left, gave the most revealing non-answer: “Political hypocrisy aside, can you name one Central Luzon politician who has not dealt with the [Left] whether for sympathy or merely as an act of survival?”
Years later, one politician comes to mind: his son and namesake, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.(On a side note: Do the people above really look like Piolo and Bea below? Just asking.) ..