President Duterte said Tuesday that the Philippines needed more citizens with the courage, patriotism and self-sacrifice of the late Senator Benigno & Ninoy & # 39; Aquino Jr. whose death by the bullet of a hired assassin 35 years ago has brought the birth of the freedoms that we enjoy today. "
A fierce critic of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and potential rival of the then ailing strong man, Aquino returned to the country of his self-exile in the United States to lead the opposition, but was murdered moments after he stepped out of the plane to him home flew on August 21, 1983.
His murder led to widespread and massive protests culminating in the Edsa People Power Revolution in 1986 after the short presidential elections that Marcos had called and brought his widow, Corazon Aquino, to the presidency.
A commission of inquiry set up by Marcos found a military conspiracy behind the murder and that the alleged Aquino murderer, Rolando Galman, was simply a trap. The Sandiganbayan later sentenced 16 soldiers, including a general, for the murder of Aquino and Galman.
"In this age of real and lasting change we need more citizens like him, so that we can steer our country towards a better and better future for all of us," Duterte said in his message on Ninoy Aquino Day.
"His deep love for the country has inspired a revolution that changed the course of our nation's history and gave birth to the freedoms we enjoy today," he said.
Guidance for leaders
The president called upon Filippino's "to think about the sacrifice of (Aquino) because we honor the courage and patriotism that Ninoy showed during his struggle."
"May his dedication to his cause serve as a guide for our current leaders in the government as they promote the welfare of our people, especially the oppressed and marginalized," he said.
Duterte praised Aquino against the background of his decision to bury the remains of Marcos on Libingan ng mga Bayani, which he said was legal and made a campaign promise to the dictator's family. He also said that he would resign if the son and namesake of the dictator would replace him.
Aquino's son and the predecessor of Mr. Duterte, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, said he was sad that Filipino's still struggled for democracy 35 years after his father's murder.
Manila Memorial Park
In his remarks during ceremonies to commemorate the death of his father in the Manila Memorial Park, former president Philippino's urged them to wake up as they did after his father was murdered.
"Let's get rid of the thinking of" Bahala after si Pedro, si Juan & # 39; or anyone, "Aquino said." We must take responsibility for our future. "
When every citizen has done his part, "we come closer and closer to where we want to be," he said.
The situation of the country when Aquino made one of his most famous sayings – "The Filipino is worth dying" – "was not much different than today," said his nephew, opposition Sen. Bam Aquino.
The senator said that many Filipinos had asked him whether they should continue the fight against authoritarian rule.
"Many of them are disillusioned and despondent about the state of our country and the apparent lack of courage of the public and government officials." Where is the anger over the thousands of deaths and the daily violence in our streets? "" Where are the leaders of the country? " who have sworn to speak for the poor, but are they so quiet and even complicit in the deteriorating situation of our people? "he said.
Declaration by De Lima
Senate Leila de Lima, who was imprisoned by the Duterte government for alleged drug charges, said that Mr Duterte was "a dictator who led the country and promoted violence and murders, without violating the constitution".
"And just like the previous dictator, (Mr.) Duterte only wants to pass on his power to his allies who do not hold him responsible for the law, and for those who refuse to admit the sins of their family to come back to power. "She said in a statement.
"As those who have inherited democracy that Ninoy and millions of Filipinos have fought for, let us continue to make efforts, connect our arms and unite our voices to fight for truth and justice in our country," she added. .
Senator Joel Villanueva said that Aquino was "the greatest modern hero of the country" and his death should remind the Filipinos that the freedoms they enjoyed were "won by the lives and deaths of those who put an end to the oppressive rule of martial law. "
The struggle for the right to life and the fair trial, improved life, to keep the government accountable, and for a safe and healthy environment that Aquino paid for his life, continues, said Senator Francis Pangilinan, President of the Liberal party.
"Now it comes down to the people, especially today's youth whose future is at stake, to bring about the change that Ninoy has paid for," said Pangilinan.
Remembered in Cebu City
The murder of Aquino was also remembered by youth activists in Cebu City, where members of Akbayan Youth tied yellow ribbons in Fuente Osmeña Circle.
"I can still tie this ribbon and not stop anyone from doing it, this is democracy and we are celebrating it now," said Bon Luzon, Akbayan Youth.
In Negros Occidental, at least 150 people prayed and offered flowers to the Ninoy Aquino Monument near the old Bacolod airport to give "honor, respect, and infinite gratitude to Ninoy Aquino who had given his life for freedom and democracy. to restore our country, "said Joy Jarabelo, provincial coordinator for the Federation of Urban Poor. –REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO, LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, MATTHEW REYSIO-CRUZ, ROSALIE O. ABATAYO AND CARLA P. GOMEZ
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