By Abner Galino
A GROUP of Filipino Americans on August 21 said a prayer in front of the building housing the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the assassination of former Philippine Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
The political action was attended by members of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance and Magdalo Group-Los Angeles chapter.
Community leader Art Garcia said in a telephone interview that while their mass action may appear to be numerically small, its significance could not be belittled.
“Yung maliliit na pagkilos, diyan nagsisimula yan,” Garcia said, adding that the gathering was almost spontaneous.
Writer and activist Fe Koons, on other hand, said the action was also meant for the victims of the extra-judicial killings that happened during the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos and the current President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We commemorated the victims of martial law, primarily Senator Benigno Aquino, and at the same time reminding the Fil-Ams of what is happening in the Philippines with the war on drugs – is the same conditions during martial law,” Koons said.
“The Marcoses are also allowed political opportunity which is wrong because Ferdinand Marcos was a dictator responsible for the death, torture of thousands of victims,” she added.
One of the protesters, Mabuhay Lara, wore an armband bearing the name of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, an innocent 17-year-old student who was killed in police anti-drug operation in Caloocan City.
Magdalo leader in Los Angeles Remedy Medina in an interview with reporters said “Ninoy Aquino lost his life trying to regain freedom for most of us and he should be remembered.”
“Because of the death of Ninoy (Aquino) the seed democracy and freedom was implanted in the hearts of all Filipinos, leading to the ouster of Marcos. And we need the same spirit and the same kind of heroism today with the situation in the Philippines,” Father Ben Sagra said before leading the group’s prayer.
August 21 is a national non-working holiday celebrated yearly in the Philippines to commemorate the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
In 1980, Aquino was allowed to go out of prison to seek medical treatment in the United States where he remained in exile for three years.
While in the US, Aquino continued his fight against the Marcos dictatorship. He returned to the Philippines on August 21, 1983. He was assassinated shortly after soldiers and policemen escorted him out of the plane that brought him to the Manila terminal.
The martyr’s wife, Corazon (popularly known as Cory) led a protest movement that led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship. She became a president of the country after a bloodless revolution dubbed as EDSA People Power Revolt.
The event was first celebrated as a national holiday in 2004 through Republic Act 9256. The law was passed during the incumbency of House Speaker Jose De Venecia, Senate President Franklin Drilon and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.