Revising history — yet again
The online proposal to revert the name Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Manila International Airport is, at best, a pathetic ploy to gain points with the powers that be, and, at worst, a transparent and desperate attempt to revise history.
Its most visible proponent is lawyer Larry Gadon, a losing senatorial candidate under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the party of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and a member of former president Gloria Arroyo’s legal team during her hospital arrest on the charge of plunder.
He is lately known for filing an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, which he actively pushed during hearings at the House of Representatives.
Before then, his infamy rested mainly on the hate campaign he unleashed against Muslims during a preelection TV interview in March 2016. Should the Muslims refuse to make peace, he said, he would “attack them … and kill them all.”
The narrative now being peddled by Gadon and netizens pushing the online proposal is that the late former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., after whom the airport was named, was no hero.
“What did he do to deserve the honor of having an airport named after him?” they ask in relation to the name change that the Senate and the House approved through Republic Act No. 6639 in 1987.
The uninformed point out that the Philippines is the only country to have an airport named after a person. They have apparently not heard of JFK Airport in New York, Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome, and other airports named after Marco Polo, Charles M. Schulz (yes, of “Peanuts” fame), Bill and Hillary Clinton, football player Cristiano Ronaldo, James Bond creator Ian Fleming, Beatle John Lennon, former first lady Imelda Marcos (in Mati, Davao Oriental), and former president Diosdado Macapagal (in Clark, Pampanga), among many, many more.
The superstitious, meanwhile, claim that changing the aiport’s name would exorcise the “jinx” supposedly haunting it that has resulted in its being named the world’s worst airport for several years and being associated with such shenanigans as “tanim-bala” (planted bullets) and stolen luggage.
The most pernicious refrain that Gadon and his ilk present is the issue of Ninoy Aquino’s heroism, or its absence — an easy win among netizens who are mostly millennials born after the horrors of Marcos’ martial law, and who are vulnerable to the click-bait headlines of fake news sites that seem to multiply exponentially as the 2019 elections approach.
Diminishing the memory of the man seen to be Marcos’ nemesis seems to be the quickest way to burnish the name of the dictator, whose own claim to heroism rested on fake war medals.
Indeed, how can his son and namesake — said to be eyeing the presidency in 2022 — run under the shadow of Marcos’ “war exploits” and widely reviled rule? Or Marcos’ being listed among the Top 15 Toppled Dictators by Time magazine in 2011? Or Marcos’ declaration of martial law in 1972 to extend his term indefinitely (since the Constitution did not allow him to run a third time), or his ordered arrest of thousands, Ninoy Aquino among them?
With the legal opposition behind bars, and with Congress and the judiciary abolished, Ninoy Aquino was tried for subversion in a military court, which sentenced him to death.
He had a heart attack in jail, and international pressure compelled Marcos to allow him to leave for medical treatment in the United States, where he stayed with his family on self-exile — “the best years of their life,” his wife Cory recalled.
In August 1983, anxious that political and economic conditions had further deteriorated in the Philippines, and against the advice of friends and family, Ninoy Aquino decided to return home to fight for the restoration of democracy.
On landing, he was shot dead while being escorted off the plane by airport security police. The man in white sprawled on the tarmac became the rallying figure that galvanized the opposition, and mass protest actions culminated in the Edsa People Power revolt in February 1986. The Marcoses fled to Hawaii, where the dictator died in 1989.
Ninoy Aquino paid the ultimate sacrifice so that people like Gadon can freely express their thoughts, such as these are, and even flout the law for their own agenda without being jailed, tortured, or made to disappear.
In this (shrinking) democratic space, people like Gadon should be exposed for what they are.
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