The truth about Plaza Miranda bombing
The most shocking event that rocked the nation in 1971 was the Plaza Miranda massacre.
Here are pure facts of the incident. It was the proclamation rally of the Liberal Party for its senatorial and Manila local candidates in the mid-year elections that year. Present were all the Liberal Party local candidates and the party’s entire senatorial ticket. Absent was the LP secretary general and star of the show, Ninoy Aquino.
Ninoy’s absence strikes one as quite odd. As Senator Jovito Salonga says about Ninoy, “Siya ang aming star. Dahil pagka siya ay nakita ng tao na nasa stage na, naghihiyawan ang tao ng bomba. Gusto namin ay bomba. (He was our star. Because whenever the people spots him onstage, the people shout bomba. We want bomba.)”
That August 21, 1971, bomba did explode in Plaza Miranda.
Two powerful grenades rocked the rally. One missed the stage, blasting people on the spot, killing eight, among them a 10-year-old girl vendor, and seriously injuring 120. The other grenade landed onstage, maiming all senatorial candidates, the most critically injured being Sen. Jovito Salonga and Sen. John Osmeña.
By this time, the conflict between Marcos and Ninoy had intensified so that their respective positions on the incident became the focus of the people’s attention. Who had the more credible story and who told that story in the more convincing way?
On other occasions before the Plaza Miranda bombing, Ninoy had enthralled as much as thrilled throngs of listeners with theatrics on the ostentations of Imelda – her jewelry, her shoes and hand bags and parasols; had enflamed audiences with statistics on corruption in the Marcos conduct of government; and had particularly appalled the nation with his expose of the Jabidah Massacre, which killed all but one of 60 Muslim youth allegedly recruited and trained for an invasion of Sabah to regain the territory for the Philippines.
These exposes provided the backdrop for Ninoy’s revelations that the Plaza Miranda bombing was a step toward the full-blown implementation of Oplan Sagittarius, the plan Ninoy alleged as the scenario for the institution of military rule in the country.
Subsequent events appeared to bear Ninoy out in the propaganda war. Two days after the Plaza Miranda carnage, Marcos suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and indeed by virtue of it proceeded immediately to arrest a number of activists without the customary warrants. And Ninoy had a heyday condemning the writ suspension as a prelude to martial law.
On the other hand, Marcos accused the Communist Party of the Philippines as the perpetrator of the massacre. According to Marcos, the CPP carried out the bombing in order to advance its design of toppling the government and taking over political control of the country. Since Marcos had on various occasions accused Ninoy of coddling the communists, if not being a communist himself, he, too, had a leg to stand on in his battle with Ninoy for credibility in the eyes of the nation. By equating Ninoy with the communists and then accusing the communists of being the perpetrators of the Plaza Miranda bombing, Marcos cleverly impressed upon the nation that it was, in the end, Ninoy who masterminded the gruesome dastardly act.
In point of logic, Marcos’ slant was quite sound. If it hadn’t been Ninoy who planned it all, why was he safely away when the bombing took place? Normally, as secretary general of the party conducting the rally and as the perennial star of LP public meetings, Ninoy was expected to be at the Plaza Miranda occasion even much earlier than the others. True, there was this wedding celebration he was attending at the precise time of the bombing, still he could have easily prioritized the Plaza Miranda LP rally, it being expectedly for him the most urgent concern that evening.
In point of truth, Marcos’ equating Ninoy with the communists did have, too, a substantial measure of it. But not after nearly two decades would proofs surface that such Marcos equation of Ninoy with the communists were substantially valid.
By: Mauro Gia Samonte, TMT
Published By: Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) Admin