Darryl Yap, infamous director of the Imee Marcos-produced movie, Maid in Malacanang, has already announced it. Following the film’s fictionalization of the Marcos family’s 1986 escape to Hawaii that made it look like they were packing for a picnic, the next project will focus on Ninoy Aquino. Yap already has a title for the movie: Martyr or Murderer (MoM).
The title alone provides a hint of the next episode in Imee’s malice-in-wonderland series: Ninoy, who died while under the custody of uniformed men, was convicted of murder. Ergo, he was not and should not be hailed as a martyr today.
Historical revisionism has gone full throttle and with the eldest daughter of the fallen dictator at the helm, we can be sure that Marcos ill-gotten money is directly and abundantly funding the distortion of the facts.
Yap made the announcement in the first week of August, and for this, we use as source a confirmed Marcos-owned daily, the Manila Bulletin, which was the only mainstream newspaper that published it. The director called it the “second installment of Maid in Malacañang” which would be released by December.
In the latest updates via his social media page Vicentiments, however, Yap said the release would be timed with the 37th commemoration of the Edsa People Power revolution in February 2023. His memes now feature a photo of the actor Philip Salvador in the role of Ninoy Aquino.
Was Ninoy convicted of murder? The answer to that question is not simply which version of history is used as basis. It is, in fact, a question of rule of law vs. dictatorial malevolence. The Philippine Star made a fact check of the issue and its presentation should serve as a very reliable basis for what transpired that made Ninoy, then a senator of the republic, end up a prisoner of conscience under the Marcos martial law.
The world press timely recorded Ninoy’s conviction by a Marcos-appointed military tribunal. For example, the Washington Post reported on November 26, 1977 that:
“Former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., 44, who has been in jail since Marcos declared martial law five years ago, was convicted by a military tribunal in Manila of charges of subversion, murder and illegal possession of firearms.
Sentenced with him was Bernabe Buscayno, also known as ‘Commander Dante,’ a leader of the New People’s Army, and a policeman turned guerrilla, Lt. Victor Corpus.”
At the same time, the article took note of the restrictive political climate when the sentence was carried out. More importantly, it noted the regime’s human rights violations.
The world was watching the Philippines with a very heightened awareness. In fact, the United States Congress cut $4 million in military aid to the Philippines because of these reported human rights violations.
Will Darryl Yap include that in his script? Don’t bet on it.
Do not bet either that Yap’s script will even mention that the Supreme Court overturned the military tribunal’s decision.
What did the SC say? Let me cite G.R. No. L-54558 May 22, 1987:
“It is Our considered opinion, and we so hold, that a military commission or tribunal cannot try and exercise jurisdiction, even during the period of martial law, over civilians for offenses allegedly committed by them as long as the civil courts are open and functioning.
Any judgment rendered by such body relating to a civilian is null and void for lack of jurisdiction on the part of the military tribunal concerned.
For the same reasons, Our pronouncement in Aquino, Jr. v. Military Commission No. 2 and all decided cases affirming the same, in so far as they are inconsistent with this pronouncement, should be deemed abandoned.”
Ninoy was not convicted of murder.
As a footnote, we should dig up the names of the members of that kangaroo Military Commission No. 2 for acting as stooges of a vindictive dictator’s rage, sullying the integrity of the Philippine military. Their names should go down with the opprobrium of history.
Was Ninoy a martyr? G.R. No. 72670 dated September 12, 1986 overturned the acquittal of the military men involved in his assassination. That decision was one of the High Court’s most strongly-worded verdicts in the history of Philippine jurisprudence.
“The SC cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict to stand unrectified. The courts of the land under its aegis are courts of law and justice and equity.” (Notice the italics.)
The Court is constrained to declare the sham trial a mock trial the non-trial of the century and that the pre-determined judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.
With the declaration of nullity of the proceedings, the cases must now be tried before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. There has been the long dark night of authoritarian regime, since the fake ambush in September, 1972 of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile (as now admitted by Enrile himself) was staged to trigger the imposition of martial law and authoritarian one-man rule, with the padlocking of Congress and the abolition of the office of the Vice-President.”
And then came the SC’s most blistering sentence ever of Ferdinand E. Marcos as dictator:
“The record shows suffocatingly that from beginning to end, the then President used, or more precisely, misused the overwhelming resources of the government and his authoritarian powers to corrupt and make a mockery of the judicial process in the Aquino-Galman murder cases.”
Was Ninoy Aquino a martyr?
Rebecca Quijano, Ninoy’s co-passenger on that fated China Airlines flight, had narrated to the court what she witnessed:
“I saw a Metrocom (soldier) pointing a gun at the back of the head of Aquino. At the same time, a shot was fired.”
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.