“Lagman’s narrative (on the Plaza Miranda bombing and Ninoy Aquino’s death) is an example of historical revisionism by selective omission”
Last week, allies of Presidents Cory Aquino and Noynoy Aquino recalled past events in Philippine history and twisted the facts to suit their political agenda. They are guilty of historical revisionism.
One illustration is Representative Edcel Lagman of Albay, a hopelessly misinformed traditional politician from the now irrelevant and much despised Liberal Party. Lagman exploits every chance to disseminate his inaccurate, self-serving opinions.
In an interview he gave last Sunday, Lagman recalled the bombing incident at the proclamation rally of the LP at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila on August 21, 1971.
He also recounted the fatal shooting of ex-Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983.
Many writers erroneously refer to that proclamation rally as the miting de avance or culminating campaign rally of the LP in the 1971 midterm national elections.
It was actually a proclamation rally of the eight senatorial candidates of the LP, and of the party’s candidates for the local posts in the City of Manila. Back in 1971, election day fell in November, and only eight seats in the Senate were up for grabs.
In recalling the Plaza Miranda incident, Lagman praised the LP and called its leaders “patriotic and courageous leaders.”
Lagman mentioned the LP politicians present at the rally, including ex-Senators Jovito Salonga, Eddie Ilarde and Genaro Magsaysay, as well as Ramon Bagatsing Sr. and Martin Isidro, who were running for Manila mayor and vice mayor, respectively.
One year after Plaza Miranda, Lagman said, then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. placed the entire country under martial law.
Lagman’s inflammatory narrative, however, conveniently omitted several important facts.
After the proclamation of martial law, Salonga fled to the United States.
Salonga returned on January 21, 1985, expecting that he can obtain political power anew by using the Aquino assassination to destabilize the Marcos administration.
Ilarde, Bagatsing and Isidro won in the 1971 elections, but they became allies of President Marcos after martial law was proclaimed. In 1978, Ilarde and Bagatsing joined the pro-Marcos Kilusang Bagong Lipunan political party.
After martial law was proclaimed, Magsaysay quietly left the political scene and was never heard of again.
By the time Ninoy Aquino was fatally shot at the airport in August 1983, Ilarde and Bagatsing were supporters of the Marcos administration.
Susmaryusep! Are these the “patriotic and courageous leaders” of the LP Lagman was referring to?
Lagman claims that right after Ninoy Aquino was slain, Salonga “was the most vocal critic of the dictator and his martial law regime.”
It looks like Lagman is becoming senile.
Salonga was virtually unheard of in the aftermath of Ninoy’s death. He was enjoying his comfortable self-exile in the United States and, as stated earlier, returned to the Philippines only in 1985 when political opportunity seemed viable for him.
The real political personalities who were vocal about their opposition to the Marcos administration were then Batasang Pambansa Assemblymen Salvador “Doy” Laurel and Eva Estrada Kalaw.
The Laurel-Kalaw tandem was at the forefront of pro-Ninoy rallies all over the country before and after Ninoy’s assassination.
Laurel even resigned his post as assemblyman days after the death of Ninoy to protest the silence of his colleagues in the Batasang Pambansa (Ilarde included) on Ninoy’s killing.
Moreover, Laurel led the comparatively mammoth crowd waiting for Ninoy’s arrival at the airport on that fateful day.
I should know — I was with Laurel at the airport. The same day a news executive from the government-run Philippines News Agency was flying out to Jakarta via Singapore for a week-long ASEAN News Editors Meeting.
Referring to both the Plaza Miranda incident and the slaying of Ninoy Aquino, the pretentious Lagman also said, “The real masterminds of both vile and abhorrent crimes have never been brought to justice.”
Lagman, however, conveniently failed to mention that former cadres of the communist New People’s Army revealed that Communist Party of the Philippines puppet master Jose Maria Sison was responsible for the carnage at Plaza Miranda.
Sison knew that bombing the LP rally would instigate the electorate to blame the incident on President Marcos Sr. The bombing, Sison anticipated, would destabilize the government and pave the way for a communist takeover of the country.
That account is confirmed in the book Red Revolution: Inside the Philippine Guerilla Movement.
Lagman also failed to mention that Salonga himself, upon learning about Sison’s role in Plaza Miranda, recanted his accusation that President Marcos Sr. was the mastermind of the bombing.
If Lagman laments that the mastermind behind Ninoy’s death was never brought to justice, he should invite attention to Cory and Noynoy.
When mother and son were in power, neither of the two bothered to order a more thorough investigation of Ninoy’s killing.
Their unusual disinterest and questionable inaction on the matter even suggest that they knew something about the airport incident, which they preferred the public to be unaware of.
Lagman’s narrative is an example of historical revisionism by selective omission.