Amid the annual patriotic fanfare in celebration of the heroic legacy of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. looms the dark question that has lingered in the back of our national consciousness for 29 years now: “Who was really behind the assassination of Ninoy?” For almost three decades, a common answer perpetuated by media and through word-of-mouth has been that Ninoy’s death was orchestrated by his political archnemisis—President Ferdinand Marcos.
However, the assertion that Marcos was behind Ninoy’s killing is a categorical falsehood. Ninoy and Marcos may have been brothers, but their story does not resemble that of Cain and Abel.
Before they rose to national prominence, Ninoy and Marcos were fraternity brothers in the Upsilon Sigma Phi. Marcos joined in 1937, and Ninoy later in 1950, while they were students at the UP College of Law. Throughout their entire lives, Ninoy and Marcos remained loyal members of the fraternity. Ninoy often invited the “brods” to his home in Manila, and later in Boston during his exile. At the height of his power, Marcos made it a point to invite the resident brods from UP to Malacañang during the Christmas season for the singing of Christmas carols. At one memorable gathering of Upsilonian alumni, Marcos spoke the words that have become part of our fraternal lore: “Brod is thicker than water.”
However, these fraternal bonds did not stop them from engaging in electrifying debates that shaped the political discourse of their time. In fact, during the Marcos administration, Upsilonians could be found on all sides of the political spectrum, from the administration to the opposition, and even the far left with the New People’s Army. This is because the Upsilon Sigma Phi is a brotherhood that transcends political beliefs and ideologies. The thought that a brod could be driven to fratricide by power, greed or any other influence is an affront, an insult, to the sincere fraternal bonds that have held our institution together for almost 95 years.
On this anniversary of the martyrdom of a true Filipino hero, let us remember that the spirit of the Ninoy-Marcos rivalry was essentially a clash between wildly different political philosophies competing to become the vehicle for Philippine development and prosperity. It was not a blood feud. The blatant lie that Marcos had anything to do with the assassination of Ninoy must be stricken from our national discourse once and for all.
Let us also remember that principled political debate should be contested with mutual respect, dignity and honor. The personal need not be soiled by the political. It seems that many of our contemporary leaders in government and civil society need to be reminded of this important lesson.
And after all these years, perhaps it is finally time to faithfully investigate and expose the true mastermind behind the assassination of our fallen brother, Ninoy.
—AURELI C. SINSUAT,
Upsilon Sigma Phi,
University of the Philippines Diliman,