An airport named MAFIA

It would be like telling the taxi driver, “Take me to the MAFIA.”

Of the many new names gamely proposed by some readers for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a bid to satirize the proposed bill of Congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr., MAFIA — for Meldy and Ferdie International Airport — was the most impressive.

But sarcasm is not the issue.  It is the problem of disinformation.

Running the gamut of one bizarre falsehood after another, the Vera Files Facebook post of my previous article on NAIA’S renaming generated more than a thousand comments on its thread. If this were the microcosm of how disinformation has seriously plagued our consciousness, then we are in for big trouble.

The modus operandi is familiar. Trolls repeat one fabrication countless times. Readers, upon seeing these, succumb to accepting them as truth. Goebbels would have been pleased.

An example is the claim that Ninoy Aquino was a communist.

That was like saying he turned his back on his family’s landed political interests. In fact, it was because of Ninoy’s bourgeoisie background that he inherited the political interests of his family, plus the fact that he married into the economically powerful Cojuangco clan. At the time of his marriage, his wife’s family business interests included banking and sugar trading. So which narrative is it – oligarch or communist?

Early on in his career, Ninoy did not have the communist DNA in his genes. He volunteered as a reporter to cover the Korean War. Trolls who do not read history are reminded that the Philippines sent 1,468 troops to Korea, under the banner of the United Nations and the United States, to fight communist North Korea, China and Russia. Ninoy, then 17 years old, went to Korea as a war correspondent of the Manila Times, a feat that earned him the Philippine Legion of Honor from President Elpidio Quirino.

Trolls, of course, do not know this.   The Philippine Legion of Honor is a military award given as well to civilians as the primary order of military merit of the Republic. And here’s the irony for trolls – Ninoy got another Philippine Legion of Honor (with the rank of Commander) from President Ramon Magsaysay. That was for his feat of negotiating in 1954 the unconditional surrender of Luis Taruc, the leader of the armed insurgency rebel group Hukbalahap.

On August 21, 1971, two bombs were thrown on the stage at the Liberal Party’s senatorial slate rally in Plaza Miranda, killing nine and injuring about 95 others.  I lived through that age. I recall very well the names of some of the prominent personalities who were wounded  using the mnemonic used for recall – KIMM POSS (Eva Estrada Kalaw, Eddie Ilarde, Genaro Magsaysay, Ramon Mitra, Salipada Pendatun, John Osmeña, Jovito Salonga, Melanio Singson).

Ferdinand Marcos blamed the communists for the bombing and then suspended the writ of habeas corpus (do trolls even know what that means?). But there were others who associated Ninoy Aquino with the bombing.  Marcos, for one, was Ninoy’s first red-tagger. Ninoy was not on stage at the time the catastrophe struck because he was with Doy Laurel at that exact moment and was expected late as the last speaker; he was then a sitting senator.

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison has revealed that Ninoy Aquino had nothing to do with the Plaza Miranda bombing.  If he was a communist, how was it that Joma had described Ninoy rather scathingly and made Marcos’s red-tagging his arch political enemy critically invalid:

“Ninoy Aquino could not have been a communist or founder of the CPP. He was well known as a CIA asset from the time he was a war correspondent in Korea. He was the political representative of the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class. He made himself popular by harping only on issues of corruption and civil liberties. He never opposed the ruling system of big compradors and landlords,” he said.

There are also those of the belief that Marcos was behind the bombing. By suspending the writ of habeas corpus, Marcos later wrote in his diaries that this was his testing ground for the future installation of an authoritarian regime.

Another troll falsehood: Ninoy Aquino committed the highest form of crime which is treason and, therefore, our primary airport should not have been named after him.

Ninoy was never tried in a civilian court. Marcos, the dictator, created a military commission to try him for murder, illegal possession of firearms, and subversion. Civilians are never tried in court martials which are courts only for military personnel. That was the range of Marcos’s absurdity and how he twisted established juridical principles because he ruled as a dictator. The kangaroo court – because that is what it was – found Ninoy guilty and sentenced him to death by firing squad, but treason was never one of the charges. The Marcos theater of the absurd, however, knowing it had zero evidence on Ninoy as the world also believed (as reported by the New York Times), commuted his sentence.

Ninoy was a fake hero, repeated the trolls innumerable times.

But who signed the law that officially invested Ninoy with the status of a hero? It was President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

On February 25, 2004, Arroyo signed Republic Act 9256 declaring that each year of Ninoy’s death anniversary on August 21 be observed as a special non-working holiday. Trolls should also probably question the Polytechnic University of the Philippines for naming its main university library as the Ninoy Aquino Library and Learning Resources Center. Trolls can also probably goad their human counterparts and benefactors to topple the several monuments built around the archipelago to honor the memory of Ninoy.

Then the next falsehood: The Manila International Airport was a project completed by FM. This one deserves no explanation for it has already been established beyond reasonable that the MIA already existed as early as the 1950s – way before Marcos became president.

Ninoy was shot to death by his communist allies. That deserves no retort.

The former senator was surrounded by a phalanx of state security men when he was murdered. Is this lie being repeated to exonerate Fabian Ver and Danding Cojuangco, among those widely believed to have had an interest in having Ninoy eliminated?

Ask Imelda.  She is still hale, hearty, and well fed at 93.

Then there is this claim: The Marcoses do not put their names on projects.

That may be right, because they would rather plaster their names  on more lasting things such as towns and universities. We have two universities named Don Mariano Marcos State University, after Marcos’ father, even though it has already been established that the man was killed by guerillas for his treasonous activities as a war hero. Mariano Marcos was a traitor to the Filipino cause for freedom and to the Republic. Why should a town in Ilocos Norte be continued to be named after him? Now that’s the real traitor.

Falsehood: Cory managed to rename the airport through an Executive Order. Wrong.

The renaming of the MIA to NAIA was done through Republic Act 6639 on December 10, 1987. But here’s the catch: President Cory Aquino did not lift a finger of influence to have it legislated. In fact, it was enacted without executive approval.

Let’s make that easy for trolls to understand: Cory Aquino did not even sign this into law.  It lapsed into law without her signature.

A friend, Macel Ingles, a critical thinker of a progressive journalist based in Norway, asked about airports named after assassinated persons of significance. In fact there are a small but very interesting number: John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, England; the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India; then the Medgar Evers Airport in Jackson, Mississippi after the African American civil rights activist assassinated by a white supremacist in 1963.

Closer to home is the Evelio Javier Airport of San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. Javier is a hero, a Marcos critic whose assassination by the henchmen of one of Marcos’s warlords was one of the sparks to the 1986 People Power Revolution. Shall we rename it the Arturo “Turing” Pacificador Airport?

Think about it, troll readers and leaders. You don’t rename airports after assassins. Think of what it can do to tourism in the country if Teves gets his way.

Assassinations tell us the other side of the gore: that here are leaders with courage people can emulate because liberty is a bell of inspiration for all of humanity regardless of race, age, religion.


The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.