How Marcos  suppressed the reality behind Ninoy Aquino’s assassination 

By  Larah Vinda Del Mundo
VERA Recordsdata/UP Third World Research Heart

August 21, 2022 is the primary Ninoy Aquino Day to be noticed below the administration of  President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  Primarily based on social media posts, Marcos loyalists are, in fact, not eager on commemorating the legally declared vacation which marks the assassination of the previous senator and fundamental political rival of the Chief Govt’s father. 

They echo claims lengthy made by supporters of the previous dictator: Aquino was a power-hungry communist; Marcos Sr. had nothing to do together with his demise 39 years in the past; and that Aquino’s widow and son, who each grew to become presidents, must have sought the reality behind the homicide however, for some conspiratorial purpose, didn’t. 

When Aquino was shot useless whereas being escorted by uniformed males on the airport after coming back from the US in 1983, Marcos and a few of his navy males had been put in a defensive place. The crime dedicated in broad daylight triggered a torrent of protests condemning the regime, particularly from the enterprise sector and the Church hierarchy, and deeply impacted its credibility at house and overseas. 

The previous dictator did the whole lot in his energy to make sure that he and a few of his most loyal males would seem like freed from any culpability for the crime. Marcos put Gregorio Cendaña, his  data minister and chief propagandist, to work.  

Three days after the Aquino assassination, Marcos created a fact-finding fee to research the crime. However the five-member panel, led by then Supreme Court docket Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, was short-lived as its members resigned on account of public outcry over the composition of the fee.  By advantage of Presidential Decree No. 1886, one other fact-finding crew led by the retired affiliate justice of the Court docket of Appeals Corazon Agrava was constituted to research the homicide. 

An try at manipulating public opinion

Approaching the primary anniversary of the assassination, Cendaña had outlined a authorities communications technique to match the deliberate actions of the political opposition because the Agrava Board, which the fact-finding fee got here to be recognized, was about to launch its stories. 

In a memorandum, the minister knowledgeable Marcos that the Nationwide Media Manufacturing Heart (NMPC) and the Philippine Information Company (PNA) would subject photographers and video groups to cowl public demonstrations from August 17-22, 1984. PNA would write a calendar story on the “official model” of the assassination, which meant the navy model that it was a lone civilian murderer, Rolando Galman, who shot Aquino as a part of a communist conspiracy. 

The plan additional stipulated, “[w]e are making ready column feeds on the Aquino statue and the ‘everlasting flame’ in Makati, usually ridiculing efforts by anti-government teams’ effort to solid Ninoy prematurely as a nationwide hero” (emphasis from the unique doc). Cendana mentioned that his company had been “coordinating with personal TV networks to make sure that industrial programming for August 20 and 21 can be significantly fascinating—to induce individuals to remain at house and watch, as a substitute of going out on the streets.” Using the state’s intelligence equipment, the data company additionally ready to flow into “black” leaflets throughout this era. 

Cendana’s memorandum included an attachment, the primary subject of “our personal tabloid,” The Manila Solar. Nowhere within the paper, nonetheless, did it say that it was printed by the Workplace of the Media Affairs (OMA), NMPC , or any government-controlled company.  Cendaña wrote that “the primary points carries (sic) lead tales on the Agrava case and the clandestine overseas funding for opposition demos and riots.” 

The Manila Solar headlined that in line with “intelligence sources,” a sure group was forcing the Agrava Board “to advocate that it was not Galman who killed”  Aquino and was waging “one large smear marketing campaign to discredit the physique right here and overseas.” 

The article included statements from three legal professionals who labored below the Workplace of the Authorities Company Counsel. Manuel M. Lazaro, Virgilio C. Abejo, and Expedito D. Tan reportedly mentioned that the memorandum despatched by the fact-finding board indicated that it was Galman who killed Aquino on orders by the New Individuals’s Military (we all know now that the Board unanimously rejected this concept). The legal professionals had been additionally reported to have mentioned that “the federal government exhausted all measures to defend the lifetime of the late senator from individuals bent on harming him,” that “the teams aiming to liquidate Aquino included individuals who wished to take revenge on him for the ‘killings of their family members by you [Aquino] and your [Aquino’s] males.’” 

Lazaro, Abejo, and Tan additionally listed a number of cases when Marcos Sr. and his spouse, Imelda, confirmed mercy and saved the previous senator’s life — the reopening of Aquino’s case after he had been convicted of prison offenses, their “well timed intervention” when Aquino went on a starvation strike in his navy cell, and the well being care supplied him on the Philippine Coronary heart Heart for Asia when he was affected by a coronary heart ailment. 

The headline story was bolstered by an opinion piece with the title “The Activity At Hand.” The nameless author mentioned, “The pressures introduced on the (Agrava) board are due to this fact malicious, tantamount to obstructing the board from its sworn job to flush out the reality, with substantial proof because the solely yardstick.”

One other article entitled “Demos for {Dollars}” claimed {that a} “foreign-based” group linked with Kilusan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino was chargeable for the slew of protests within the nation on the time. Citing “intelligence stories,” the article mentioned that “pupil ranks and people of the labor teams had been infiltrated by components from the dissident motion and different radical teams which search to sow terror and spark an unarmed city warfare with a purpose to topple the current authorities.” 

Extremely-conscious about his picture in the US, Marcos Sr.’s state equipment carefully monitored the unfavourable publicity that his administration was receiving overseas.  In a memorandum dated August 22, 1984, Cendaña up to date his boss concerning the reportage in U.S. media concerning the Aquino affair. The data minister shared that main publications (New York Occasions, Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, and Boston Globe) as nicely as TV and radio stations talked about the assassination and reported concerning the demonstrations in Manila. 

He additionally alluded to an article written by opposition chief Raul Manglapus within the New York Occasions on August 21, 1984 entitled “To Honor Aquino, Drop Marcos.” In response to the piece, Cendaña instructed Marcos that “our New York data workers ready a rejoinder signed by Amb. Rey Arcilla of the U.N. (United Nations) Mission.” The response signed by the Filipino diplomat noticeably targeted on poisoning the nicely, calling Manglapus a “discredited politician,” a “steak commando” and a “political has-been.” 

The Marcos regime was additionally within the enterprise of spying on opposition leaders with a purpose to monitor and affect the narrative on the Aquino assassination within the U.S. In a memorandum to Marcos with the topic line “Butz Aquino’s Appearances within the U.S.” dated March 15, 1984, Cendaña briefed Marcos on the highlights of the remarks of the previous senator’s youthful brother earlier than the Ninoy Aquino Motion (NAM) in Chicago and the Nationwide Press Membership in Washington. 

In his speeches, Butz, who had by then develop into a outstanding opposition chief, reportedly declared that the Aquino household didn’t acknowledge the Agrava Board. He additionally solid doubts on the integrity of the upcoming election and advocated a boycott. As relayed within the memo, Butz reportedly mentioned that “even earlier than the individuals solid their votes, the outcomes are already recognized.” Cendaña then instructed Marcos that “based mostly on the data materials we furnished them, our attaches overseas have ready supplies to counter (Butz) Aquino’s declare. The rejoinder can be despatched to Filipino civic organizations within the areas.” 

The Agrava Board findings

After virtually a 12 months into its probe, the Agrava Board submitted its stories to Marcos in October 1984. The five-member panel was unanimous in rejecting the model blaming Galman for Aquino’s homicide, concluding as a substitute that the assassination was the consequence of a navy conspiracy.  However the panel members disagreed on the extent of the plot. 

The bulk report, which represented the opinion of 4 Board members (Luciano Salazar, Dante Santos, Ernesto Herrera, and Amando Dizon) accused 26 individuals, together with then Armed Forces Chief Gen. Fabian Ver and two different navy generals of plotting and killing Aquino.  Agrava, nonetheless, argued that there was inadequate proof to implicate Ver. 

Because the Agrava Board was not a court docket of regulation,  Marcos forwarded its findings to the Tanodbayan (ombudsman) “for ultimate decision via the authorized system” and trial within the Sandiganbayan. 


On December 2, 1985, the Sandiganbayan acquitted Ver and 24 different navy males as nicely as a civilian (Hermilo Gosuico) from all legal responsibility within the case. The court docket absolutely embraced the navy model of occasions, which was the identical place that Marcos took shortly after Aquino was killed, and disavowed the testimony of the prosecution’s fundamental witness, Rebecca Quijano (a passenger on Aquino’s flight and popularly recognized on the time because the “Crying Woman”). 

This was famous in a telegram from the US Ambassador to Manila Stephen W. Bosworth to Secretary of State George P. Shultz the place he wrote that “the court docket merely glossed over with out refuting the ‘concrete’ photographic, audio and video proof adduced by the Agrava Board, and ignored altogether the proof indicating a high-level conspiracy behind the assassination.” 

The envoy went on to say, “As we reported in our August evaluation of the Aquino trial . . . little or no effort was made to disguise the orchestrated nature of the Sandiganbayan proceedings. It is obvious that the actual function of the trial was to mount a sluggish however relentless assault on the Agrava Board’s findings below the guise of legality and to situation the general public to count on the eventual consequence.” 

“It’s of file that the Tanodbayan, Bernardo Fernandez, blocked efforts to introduce probably essential proof which surfaced through the course of the trial,” the telegram added.

The Tanodbayan filed the case that might be often called Individuals v. Custodio, et al.(referring to BGen. Luther Custodio, commander of the Aviation Safety Command) earlier than the Sandiganbayan. Ver and Maj. Gen. Prospero Olivas, then commander of the Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Command, had been among the many eight who had been indicted solely as equipment.  

Shortly after Marcos was deposed, the courts had been urged to reopen the case. In March 1986, Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, one in all the prosecutors in Aquino’s case wrote an announcement (and in June 1986 testified in court docket) that there had been a “failure of justice” within the prison proceedings.

Herrera instructed a particular Supreme Court docket fee (fashioned to find out if the Aquino case needs to be reopened) that on January 10, 1985, Marcos summoned him, Sandiganbayan Justice Manuel Pamaran (presiding justice), Justice Bernardo Fernandez (Tanodbayan) and different prosecutors to a gathering in Malacañang. Additionally current within the assembly had been Justice Manuel Lazaro after which first woman Imelda. Herrera mentioned that within the two-hour lengthy assembly, Marcos induced them to undertake a sham trial on Aquino’s case. 

In his remark dated April 14, 1986, Herrera narrated how Marcos was at some factors offended after which calm and pragmatic all through the assembly the place he made it clear that even though it was politically expedient to cost the defendants in court docket, the endgame needed to be a dismissal of the case. 

Herrera relayed Marcos’s sentiments, “Politically, as it’s going to develop into evident that the federal government was critical in pursuing the case in the direction of its logical conclusion, and thereby ease public demonstrations; then again, legally, it was perceived that after (not IF) they’re acquitted, double jeopardy would inure. The previous President ordered then that the decision be revised by categorizing the participation of every respondent.” 

The Supreme Court docket G.R. 72760 additional detailed Herrera’s testimony on how the boys accused of conspiring to kill Aquino had been acquitted.  A component of it reads: 

Herrera additional added particulars on the “implementation of the script,” comparable to the holding of a “make-believe raffle” inside 18 minutes of the submitting of the Informations with the Sandiganbayan at midday of January 23, 1985, whereas there have been no members of the media; the set up of TV displays instantly beamed to Malacanang; the set up of a “warfare room” occupied by the navy; makes an attempt to direct and stifle witnesses for the prosecution; the suppression of the proof that might be given by U.S. Air Pressure males concerning the “scrambling” of Ninoy’s airplane; the suppression of rebuttal witnesses and the bias and partiality of the Sandiganbayan.

By the top of the dialog, “after the script has been tacitly mapped out,” Herrera mentioned that  Marcos instructed the prosecutors: “Magazine moro-moro na lang kayo.” 

His parting phrases, in line with Herrera, had been “Thanks for coming. Thanks on your cooperation. I do know how you can reciprocate.”  

The Fee discovered that “the one conclusion that could be drawn therefrom is that stress from Malacanang had certainly been made to bear on each the court docket and the prosecution within the dealing with and disposition of the Aquino-Galman case.”  This was in flip given credence by the Supreme Court docket, and on September 12, 1986, ordered a re-trial of the Aquino homicide case. 

Paperwork left by the Marcoses in Malacañang after they fled at the peak of the 1986 Individuals Energy Revolt may give us a better look into how Marcos’s henchmen helped create a spin for Ver and the others accused of Aquino’s homicide.

Coming into the prison proceedings in February 1985, the navy defendants who, like Olivas, had been caught red-handed attempting to mislead the Agrava Board concerning the firearm that was utilized by the gunman.

Throughout the hearings, Olivas forwarded the “Magnum concept,” which alleged that Galman used a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum to shoot Aquino. The firearm was supposedly retrieved by Sgt. Arnulfo De Mesa, a member of Aquino’s supposed close-in safety unit, from Galman. Olivas used as foundation for his concept Chemistry Report No. C-83-872, which was an examination of fragments from an ordinary Magnum bullet, not the bullet fragments recovered from Aquino’s head. 

The minority report discovered that Olivas excluded from the report he submitted on December 19, 1983 and his testimony on June 27, 1984, the second chemistry report (No. C-83-1136) which was the evaluation of the 2 fragments from the precise bullet that killed Aquino. This doc revealed that the homicide weapon was both a .38 or a .45 caliber pistol, not a .357 Magnum.

The minority report mentioned that the rationale for exclusion was clear, “the primary report helps his [Olivas’s] concept, however the second overthrows it.” 

In response to Olivas’s misstep, Presidential Secretariat Ed Adea wrote a memorandum to Ver dated February 1, 1985 (coursed via Col. Balbino Diego) proposing a method for the trial of the navy defendants (and one civilian) earlier than the Sandiganbayan. On this similar day, the defendants had been introduced earlier than the court docket for the arraignment on the prison proceedings. 

Adea’s memorandum was linked to their “little speak final Saturday within the Examine Room,” reffering to Marcos Sr.’s workplace within the presidential palace. He advised to Ver: “We may give a break to the respondent troopers by altering a minor facet of the protection concept as framed by Gen. Olivas. How: By admitting the supposition that the deadly caliber .38 was fired from the .357 Magnum of Galman.” (Emphasis from the unique)

He continued, “However we’d like a witness, ideally an knowledgeable knowledgeable (sic) on firearms, to reveal this.” Adea believed they may nonetheless change their place at that stage as a result of the Sandiganbayan trial had “not but begun.” 


The Marcos propaganda machine shifted gears nearing the discharge of the Sandiganbayan verdict. Three weeks earlier than the choice got here out, Malacañang was already making ready to situation the general public on the acquittal. In a memorandum entitled “Data Program Re: Sandiganbayan Choice” (presumably addressed to Marcos) dated November 12, 1985, Cendaña wrote a few media plan to “put together individuals’s thoughts for a verdict favorable to the accused; after which justify the choice, as soon as”—not if—“it’s handed down.”

The marketing campaign was divided into two phases: the “pre-decision section” and the “post-decision data program.” The pre-decision section is additional divided into 4 platforms: print media, nationwide radio, tv, and the worldwide viewers.

 For print media, one plan was to publish a four-part sequence “solely carr[y]ing the byline of the Bulletin reporter masking the Sandiganbayan.” The technique was to emphasise the “sterling information” of the judges and to recap a number of the “key characters” within the trial. The reporter was to make references to the “sordid private life” of the Galman household’s counsel, Lupino Lazaro, and “the Quijano girl’s authorized and psychiatric profile.”

The identical narrative could be rehashed in a 30-minute particular to be produced by the information division of the Maharlika Broadcasting System, and aired on government-controlled tv networks. 

One other “special-report kind program is to be ready for displaying over the Pilipino station, Channel Two,” Cendaña mentioned within the memo. For the worldwide viewers, the identical program could be aired “on current NMPC TV shops in Chicago Los Angeles, and Honolulu, that are beamed to the Filipino communities in these U.S. cities.” The data minister even proposed “shopping for time in San Francisco and New York native stations” for this “particular report.” 

To take care of a veil of credibility, Cendaña famous that “the 2 packages are to be low-key, ‘goal’ in tone and non-argumentative. They can be made up largely of clips from the Sandiganbayan proceedings.”

As for the post-decision media plan, this system begins on the day the choice was handed down. Day 1 was all about making certain that the OMA had management over the framing of the information concerning the decision. As early as 20 days earlier than the decision, Cendaña mentioned {that a} PNA report could be ready “to make sure that we hit the fitting tone for the Pamaran assertion and the reactions from Common Ver and the president.” The OMA would additionally take cost of drafting statements for Marcos and Ver, coordinating with Pamaran about his speaking factors explaining the court docket’s choice, and shepherding how Filipino diplomats had been to reply to questions from the overseas press.

Day 2 of Cendana’s plan handled the herding of “pleasant” reactions to the choice, whereas Day 3 was about working “pleasant analyses.” The PNA, Cendaña mentioned, may “fee a famous prison lawyer to jot down his personal evaluation of the case.” On this section, the minister advised that the OMA produce a “The place are they Now?” sequence “to present our aspect a probability to indicate that the crying woman now lives in the US with all her household—together with three brothers whose purposes for visas had initially been denied.” 

Earlier than he concluded the proposal, Cendana mentioned {that a} separate data program was being ready by his company “to cope with the subject of Gen. Ver’s reinstatement as Chief of Workers.” 

Inside November 1985, earlier than and after Cendana submitted his data technique memo, Marcos publicly said that he would reinstate Ver if he was acquitted, at one level stating that the reinstatement could be “automated.” 

However their renewed relationship as president and armed forces chief was transient.  In just a little over two months, these two ruthlessly highly effective males and their households had been fleeing the Palace from civilian crowds and defecting troopers that that they had hoodwinked far too persistently.

(Larah Vinda Del Mundo is a researcher on the Third World Research Heart, Faculty of Social Sciences and Philosophy, College of the Philippines Diliman. Miguel Paolo P. Reyes and Joel F. Ariate Jr. helped in scripting this article. This piece is an element of their Heart’s on-going analysis program, the Marcos Regime Analysis.)

(VERA Recordsdata is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper take a look at present points. Vera is Latin for “true.”)



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