Is Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, a patriot or a traitor?
The first part of this series introduced his forefather, Servillano Aquino. Servillano took an active part in the revolution against the Spanish regime. He was suspected of plotting against the death of General Antonio Luna . Some also suspected him to have stolen the revolutionary treasures left by the murdered General Luna.
Benigno Sr., son of Servillano, served under the Japanese puppet government. He was considered a traitor by Filipinos who suffered under the Japanese occupation. He was despised, jeered at, and stoned in public.
If the forefathers mentioned above had questionable integrity. What about the next two generations? Let’s take a look.
Fourth Generation: Benigno Jr
Benigno Simeon Aquino Jr started his political career early. He developed his gift for gab as a seventeen-year-old journalist sent to cover the Korean War in 1950. It was in Korea that he saw communism in a positive light. From Korea, Ninoy took several political positions as follows.
Ninoy married Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco in 1954. One of their principal sponsors is President Ramon Magsaysay.
Theirs is a marriage with profound impact in Philipine history and politics. Their marriage joined together wealth handed down from their forefathers. Cory is the heiress of the wealthy Cojuangco clan. Ninoy also is the wealthy heir of the Aquino clan. Their wealth can be traced back to the revolutionary period during the Spanish Regime.
Ninoy-Cory Family Tree
Ninoy Appointed by Magsaysay as Emissary
During Magsaysay’s administration. Ninoy was appointed by Magsaysay, as a personal emissary to Luis Taruc. Taruc is the leader of the Hukbalahap Movement based in Central Luzon. The Huk rebellion collapsed but Ninoy continued his dealings with the left.
Magsaysay Brokered Purchase of Hacienda Luisita
Sugar production was a blooming business in the 1920’s. It was during this time that the Cojuangco brothers Jose, Juan, Antonio, and Eduardo also founded a small sugar mill in Paniqui, Tarlac.
In 1957, the Spanish-owned Tabacalera decided to sell Hacienda Luisita and Central Azucarera de Tarlac. President Magsaysay talked to his inaanak, Ninoy, about the possibility of the Cojuangco Clan to buy the properties. Ninoy however wanted the properties to be exclusive to his father in law, Jose “Pepe” Cojuangco Sr.
President Magsaysay offered his kumpare Jose Cojuangco the deal.
Magsaysay Ordered Central Bank to Help Cojuangco buy Azucarera
Magsaysay ordered the Central Bank of the Philippines to provide a guarantee to allow Jose Cojuangco to acquire a 2.1 Million Dollar Loan from the Manufacturer’s Trust Company of New York. The Central Bank used part of the country’s international reserves to facilitate the flow of the dollar loan from Manufacturer’s Trust Co of New York. The loan will be used to pay for the Azucarera.
The Central Bank gave the condition that by buying the Azucarera Jose Cojuangco will also buy the 6,443 hectare Hacienda Luisita.
Magsaysay Helped Cojuangco buy Hacienda Luisita through GSIS
Magsaysay also helped Jose Cojuangco finance the purchase of Hacienda Luisita. The GSIS approved a 5.9 million pesos loan. GSIS also set a clear condition after ten years.
Hacienda Luisita would be “subdivided among the tenants who shall pay the cost thereof under reasonable terms and conditions”
The above condition was however changed on Jose Cojuangco’s request. It now reads:
“Shall be sold at cost to tenants, should there be any.”
On April 8, 1958, Jose Cojuangco, Sr.’s company, the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), became the new owner of Hacienda Luisita and Central Azucarera de Tarlac.
Jose Cojuangco appointed his son-in-law Ninoy as administrator.
Love and Hate Relationship Among Cojuangco Brothers
The exclusion of Jose Cojuangco, Sr.’s brothers and their heirs from Luisita caused a rift in the family. But this rift however is unusual. Jose Jr or Peping for example is chair of UNA Party whose candidate in the 2016 presidential election is Jejomar Binay. Eduardo Jr is chair of NPC Party whose candidate in this year’s election is Grace Poe Llamanzares. Noynoy Aquino, son of Benigno Aquino, chair of the Liberal Party has Manuel Roxas III as presidential candidate. Danding supported Noynoy Aquino, Jose Cojuangco Jr’s nephew in the 2010 elections. He did not support the son of his sister, Gibo Teodoro.
Ninoy Aquino’s CIA Work
Ninoy was accused of working with the CIA at a very young age. He participated in the Permesta Rebellion in Indonesia sometime between 1957 to 1967. He used Hacienda Luisita as a training ground for rebel pilots. He also reportedly brought arms to the rebels. This CIA operation however failed.
Ninoy denied the accusation. He insisted that he never worked for the CIA but with the CIA. But when Ninoy was exiled in Boston, decades later, he would brag to his close friend that indeed, he was a CIA agent.
Ninoy Help Founded the CPP-NPA
Ninoy was instrumental in the founding of the CPA-NPA. Jose Maria Sison admitted that Ninoy sought him out in 1967, a year before the CPP-NPA was formed. Sison however denied that it was Ninoy who introduced him to Bernabe Buscayno, alias, Kumander Dante. Kumander Dante is the founder of the New Peoples Army. The NPA is the military wing of the CPP.
Ninoy Aquino is Kumander DANTE
DANTE is an acronym. It stands for (Jose) Diokno, (Benigno) Aquino, (Francisco) Nepomuceno, (Lorenzo) Tañada, and (Moises) Espina.
Hacienda Luisita an NPA Haven
Wounded NPA soldiers were brought to Hacienda Luisita. Ninoy sometimes bribed the doctors not to tell on the NPAs. The CPP-NPA also organized Hacienda Luisita Farmers into unions. The union was supported by Ninoy but the Cojuangco’s did not. Ninoy also provided them with arms, lodging and training area in Hacienda Luisita.
Sometimes NPA borrowed money from Ninoy. Kumander Bilog or Rodolfo Salas, a close friend of Ninoy sometimes bring wounded soldiers not only in Tarlac but also in Times Street or the Aquino residence in New Manila.
Ninoy and Plaza Miranda Bombing
Ninoy holds an important position in the Liberal Party. One night on August 21, 1971, the Liberal party held a huge miting de avance at Plaza Miranda. Bombs however exploded during the event. Nine were killed and 95 were wounded, including Liberal Party candidates. Ninoy however, was unscathed.
He was not there.
He was the only party official who was conspicuously not in attendance during that important event.
Which left everyone wondering.
He ditched the Liberal Party rally, for a birthday party of a friend’s daughter.
No, he was just late according to him. One witness who was in the party observed that Ninoy was fidgety at the party. He also wondered why Ninoy was dilly-dallying in going to the rally.
In the early morning however, hours before the bombing, Ninoy paid a surprise visit to one of his party mates. He told him he will be gone for several days after the miting de avance to raise money for the Liberal Party.
The bombing was blamed on President Marcos. Some of Ninoy’s party mates believed Ninoy knew of the plot. Years later, Jose Maria Sison admitted that he ordered the bombing.
Ninoy’s Political Ambition Foiled by Martial Law
Benigno Aquino Jr. is a very ambitious politician. He became the leading candidate for presidency in 1973. But it was foiled.
On September 7, 1972, Ninoy met with Sison and several members of the CPP Central Committee in Makati. They discussed a broad opposition against the Marcos administration.
On September 16, 1972, President Marcos charged unnamed Liberal Party officials with meeting cadres of the CPP for subversive purposes. Aquino immediately denied the allegations.
On September 21, 1972, Marcos declared Martial Law.
Ninoy Charged and Jailed
Ninoy was charged with murder, subversion and illegal possession of firearms. He was found guilty by a military tribunal and spent over seven years in prison. In 1980, he was allowed to go to the US for a heart bypass operation.
Ninoy in US
In the US Ninoy, Cory, and their children, lived in Boston. Later Ninoy studied in Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was still highly critical of Marcos. He conducted lectures and write books.
Cory Divorced Ninoy
Cory divorced Ninoy in Boston but Ninoy refused. They continued living together.
Ninoy Continued Communication with CPP-NPA
Ninoy and Kumander Bilog continued their communication. They discussed mostly how to overthrow Marcos dictatorship. Ninoy also wanted to revitalise the Liberal Party. At the time, many local Liberal Party organisations have joined the CPP in multi-sectoral organizations.
Reason for Coming Home
Kumander Bilog believed that one of the reasons why Ninoy wants to go home is to lead the opposition. Ninoy was also threatened by the electoral machine of Doy Laurel’s United Nationalist Democratic Opposition (UNIDO).
Ninoy and Sabah Claim
Benigno Aquino Jr. secretly met with Mahathir in August 1983, a few days before he finally landed in the Philippines. He asked Mahathir to support him in his political ambition. In exchange, Ninoy promised to drop Sabah claim.
Close to two decades before that, the Marcos’ regime plotted a secret military operation to claim Sabah. This operation called Operation Merdekah however turned haywire which led to the massacre of a special commando unit named Jabidah, in March 18, 1968.
Ninoy delivered a privilege speech as a senator entitled, “Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil?” ten days after the operation. Marcos administration abandoned the plan. But the expose made by Ninoy led to a boiling resentment of the Filipino people against Marcos.
Ninoy Returns Home
After a series of hopping on and off his flight. From Boston to Los Angeles, then to Singapore, next to Malaysia, where we had friends in the ruling family, to Hong Kong, and then Taipei. And from Taipei to Manila.
Ninoy finally landed in the Philippines. He was shot dead. It was August 21, 1983. Eleven years before that, Ninoy saved himself from the Plaza Miranda bombing. This time, he did not.
Who Killed Ninoy
Whoever killed Ninoy will remain a mystery. Cory Aquino and Noynoy Aquino never pursued justice for the death of Ninoy. Is it the CIA? Peping Cojuangco? Danding? Marcos?
Cory Aquino and Sabah Claim
Cory Aquino became president through a people power revolution.
In 1987, the 1973 Constitution was amended. The first article which reads “and all other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title” was removed. The definition of the Philippine territory under the 1973 Constitution was also revised.
Cory did this to honor Ninoy’s commitment to Mahathir so that she will be recognised as a legitimate president. Cory was not elected she only ascended to the position through people power.
Cory also released Joma Sison for no apparent reason.
For continuation. Please Read Pnoy Aquino: Like Grandfather Like Grandson
You may also read this book about the Aquino’s traced from the Marcos Regime up to the present administration of Benigno Aquino III.