Ninoy Aquino’s Historical Speech Nobody Ever Heard

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Almost 31 years ago, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. planned a homecoming despite threats in his life.

He was allowed to go to the US to undergo surgery for his blocked arteries. But after learning that the situation back in the Philippines was getting worse, he decided to come home.

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On August 21, 1983, Aquino finally arrived in the Philippines. After stepping off the plane, he was immediately arrested. And while waiting for his prison escort, Ninoy Aquino, the man who declared “Filipinos are worth dying for”, was assassinated in broad daylight.

The rest, as they say, is history.

But unknown to many, Aquino was armed with a heartwarming speech when he came home. Of course, it would remain undelivered due to his untimely death, and would only resurface years later to commemorate Aquino’s heroism.

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Raul Manglapus, Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino Jr, and Salvador Laurel, preparing Ninoy’s arrival statement.
In Photo: Raul Manglapus, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., and Salvador Laurel while preparing Ninoy’s speech that would later remain undelivered. Years after Ninoy’s death, Laurel would be Cory Aquino’s vice-presidential running mate during the 1985 snap election. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Flickr Account]

Fast forward to today, Ninoy’s legacy remains steadfast. And as a tribute to one of Philippine history’s greatest figure, let’s examine once again the thoughts and sentiments Ninoy had moments before he met his tragic death.

Here’s the official transcript of Ninoy’s undelivered speech made available by The Official Gazette:

I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence.

I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.

I am prepared for the worst, and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser, many of my tested friends and a few of my most valued political mentors.

A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties, have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts.

I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis.

I never sought nor have I been given assurances or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end justice will emerge triumphant.

According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.

Three years ago when I left for an emergency heart bypass operation, I hoped and prayed that the rights and freedoms of our people would soon be restored, that living conditions would improve and that blood-letting would stop.

Rather than move forward, we have moved backward. The killings have increased, the economy has taken a turn for the worse and the human rights situation has deteriorated.

During the martial law period, the Supreme Court heard petitions for Habeas Corpus. It is most ironic, after martial law has allegedly been lifted, that the Supreme Court last April ruled it can no longer entertain petitions for Habeas Corpus for persons detained under a Presidential Commitment Order, which covers all so-called national security cases and which under present circumstances can cover almost anything.

The country is far advanced in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united. But we can be united only if all the rights and freedoms enjoyed before September 21, 1972 are fully restored.

The Filipino asks for nothing more, but will surely accept nothing less, than all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1935 Constitution—the most sacred legacies from the Founding Fathers.

Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Must we wait until that patience snaps?

The nation-wide rebellion is escalating and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution. There is a growing cadre of young Filipinos who have finally come to realize that freedom is never granted, it is taken. Must we relive the agonies and the blood-letting of the past that brought forth our Republic or can we sit down as brothers and sisters and discuss our differences with reason and goodwill?

I have often wondered how many disputes could have been settled easily had the disputants only dared to define their terms.

So as to leave no room for misunderstanding, I shall define my terms:

1. Six years ago, I was sentenced to die before a firing squad by a Military Tribunal whose jurisdiction I steadfastly refused to recognize. It is now time for the regime to decide. Order my IMMEDIATE EXECUTION OR SET ME FREE.

I was sentenced to die for allegedly being the leading communist leader. I am not a communist, never was and never will be.

2. National reconciliation and unity can be achieved but only with justice, including justice for our Muslim and Ifugao brothers. There can be no deal with a Dictator. No compromise with Dictatorship.

3. In a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build.

4. Subversion stems from economic, social and political causes and will not be solved by purely military solutions; it can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom, and

5. For the economy to get going once again, the workingman must be given his just and rightful share of his labor, and to the owners and managers must be restored the hope where there is so much uncertainty if not despair.

On one of the long corridors of Harvard University are carved in granite the words of Archibald Macleish:

“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, and in the final act, by determination and faith.”

I return from exile and to an uncertain future with only determination and faith to offer—faith in our people and faith in God.

 

On the other hand, here is the official Filipino translation made by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino:

Kusa akong nagbalik upang makisama sa mga hanay ng mga nakikipaglaban para sa pagbabalik ng ating mga karapatan at kalayaan sa imapayapang pamamaraan.

Hindi ko hangad ang sagupaan. Idinadalangin ko’t aking sisikaping magkaroon ng tunay na pambansang pagkakasundo batay sa katarungan. Handa ako sa ano mang masamang maaaring mangyari. Nagpasya ako labag sa payo ng aking ina, ng aking tagpayong espirituwal, ng aking mga kaibigan, at ng ilang tagapayo sa politika. May naghihintay sa aking hatol na kamatayan, dalawang kasong subversion na ang pawang hiling ay ang aking kamatayan na hanggang ngayon ay nakabinbin pa rin sa mga korte.

Maaari sanang ako’y humingi ng political asylum sa Amerika ngunit nadarama kong tungkulin ko na siya ring tungkulin ng bawat Pilipino na siya ang makiramay sa kanyang mga kababayan lalo na sa panahon ng krisis.

Kusa akong nagbalik na ang tanging sandata ay ang aking malinis na konsensiya at nagkukuta sa pananalig na sa dakong huli’y ang katarunga’y gigitaw nang buong tagumpay.

Nang ako ay umalis upang ipailalim sa bypass operation sa puso, ako’y umasa at nanalanging sana’y ibalik ang mga kalayaan at karapatan ng ating mga kababayan na ang pamumuhay ay umunlad at ang pagdanak ng dugo ay matigil. Ngunit sa halip na tayo’y sumulong tayo’y dumausdos nang paurong. Dumami ang pagpatay, ang ekonomiya ang lalong sumama at lumubha ang karapatang pantao. Ang malalang kalagayan ng bansa ay ating malulunasan kung tayo’y nagkakaisa. Ngunit tayo’y magkakaisa lamang kung maibabalik ang lahat ng karapatan at kalayaang tinatamasa natin bago ang ikadalawampu’t isa ng Setyembre, 1971. Tunay na matiisin ang Pilipino ngunit may hangganan ang kanyang pagtitimpi. Hihintayin pa ba nating maubos ang paigtitimping ito?

Ang laganap na paghihimagsik ay lumalala at nagbabantang sumabog sa isang madugong rebolusyon. Dumarami ang mga kadre ng kabataang Pilipino na sa ngayo’y naniniwalang ang kalayaan ay hindi ibinibigay kundi kailangan ito’y agawin. Kailangan pa bang tayo’y magbuhos ng dugo tulad noong nakaraan na naging kabayaran ang ating Republika o maaari ba tayong umupo at mag-usap bilang magkakapatid upang ayusin ang ating hindi pagkakasunduan sa tulong ng katwiran at magandang kalooban.

Madalas kong isipin, alin kayang mga sigalot ang naisasaayos sana nang mahusay kung ang mga nagtutunggali ay naglalahad lamang ng kanilang malinaw na mga kagustuhan. Kaya upang di mabigyang puwang ang di pagkakaunawaan, aking ilalahad ang aking mga hangad na mangyari.

Una, iniutos ang pagbitay sa akin noong ako’y palayain kaagad. Ako’y hinatulang mamatay sapagkat ako raw ay isang puno ng mga komunista. Hindi ako isang Komunista, hindi ako kailanman naging komunista at kailanman ay hindi ako magiging komunista.

Ikalawa, ang pamabansang pagkakasundo’t pagkakaisa at makakamit ngunit sa tulong lamang ng katarungan. Kasama na ang katarungan para sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim at Ifugao. Walang pakikitungo sa isang diktador, walang pakikipagsundo sa diktadurya.

Ikatlo, sa isang rebolusyon ay walang nagtatagumapay. Mayroon lamang mga biktima, hindi natin kailangan magwasak upang makapatayo tayong muli.

Ikaapat, ang paglaban sa pamahalaan o subversion ay nag-uugat sa mga dahilang pang-ekonomiko, pangkabuhayan at pampolitika at hindi ito malulunasan ng mga hakbang militar. Ito’y masasagkaan hindi ng higit na paghihigpit kundi ng higit na patas na pamamahagi ng kabuhayan. Higit na demokrasya at higit na kalayaan.

Ikalima, upang mapaunlad ang ekonomiya, ang mga manggagawa ay dapat na pagkalooban ng kanilang makatarungan at tamang bahagi ng kanilang pinagpaguran sa pasilyo sa Harvard University ay nakaukit sa marmol ang mga salita ng makatang si Archibald Macleish, ang sabi ni Macleish, “Paano ipagtatanggol! ang kalayaan sa tulong ng sandata kapag ito’y sinasalakay ng sandata, sa tulong ng katotohanan kapag ito ay nilalapastangan ng kasinungaligan, ng tiwala sa demokrasya kung ito ay binabayo ng prinsipyong mapaniil, lagi at hanggang sa huli, sa tulong ng matatag na paninindigan.”

Ako’y magbabalik mula sa pagkatapon sa ibang bansa at sa walang katiyakang bukas taglay lamang ang tanging tibay ng loob at pananalig sa Pilipino at pananalig sa lumikha.

Featured image courtesy of jighead (Deviant Art)

 

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