Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., though dead for almost 35 years, remains resonant and relevant especially by dint of his assassination that altered the course of contemporary Philippine history and signaled the beginning of the end of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship. Filipinos of a certain age remember his murder and the brazenness with which it was pulled off on his very arrival from self-exile on Aug. 21, 1983.
That murder, of the man who flew home with the intent to unite the opposition to the martial law regime, is unfinished business that continues to cloud the political horizon, even as the son and namesake of the long-suspected mastermind strains mightily to regain his family’s lost stomping ground.
Thus, the posting of a photograph of Ninoy Aquino being kissed by a woman, in an effort to show supposed parallels between him and President Duterte, is 1) curiously odd, appearing as not having been thought through, or 2) astonishingly audacious, intended to make use of the shock factor that often blinds viewers to circumstances and context.
Mocha Uson, the administration’s assistant communications secretary, claimed to have merely compared her boss’ kissing a woman in Seoul to the practice of other leaders, such as the father of media personality Kris Aquino: “Itinumbas lang sa gawain ng ibang lider tulad ng tatay niya.”
But can parallel behavior be actually observed in the pictures of the President kissing a member of his audience and of Ninoy Aquino being kissed by admirers? I think not, if only in the fundamental terms of one being the kisser and the other the kissee. One solicited the occasion for the contact (to entertain and amuse, and also as part of “the culture of Filipinos,” according to his explainers); the other submitted to the act, with an awkward grin.
Kris Aquino was well within her rights to take loud umbrage, even if, as Uson claimed, “this is not about you.”
The posting of the Ninoy Aquino photograph for Uson’s idea of comparison served to add to her record of fake news posts on social media—a record that in itself constantly sticks in the craw because she is paid in taxpayer money.
Consider that this assistant communications secretary once posted a picture of a female child supposedly killed in relation to the pervasive drug problem in the country, against which the administration continues to wage war. It was eventually found that the picture was that of a 9-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Brazil in 2014. Or consider that she posted a picture of purported Filipino soldiers fighting terrorists in Marawi: The discovery that the picture was actually that of Honduran police taken in 2015 negated her call for prayers for the safety of Philippine military forces and their
operations in the besieged Islamic city.
She also posted a question that virtually dripped of contempt: Was the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt the product of fake news? It’s of a piece with a point that was inadvertently raised in the posting of the picture of the dead would-be leader of the anti-Marcos resistance being kissed in the plane that carried him to his extinction: the continuing attempt at eroding the significance of the people-backed uprising that toppled Marcos’ strongman rule.
This habitual fabrication, this dissembling, again saw fruition in the posting of the kissing pictures, as though to amplify on the raucous “cheering crowd” that accompanied the presidential smooch, the lamentably approving chorus which illustrates in high definition what this society has come to.
And yet the woman, virtually flashing the finger at a critical public and in defiance of her principals, has declared without choking: “I decline to apologize for the truth.” It’s an absurd and outrageous stance that voters should not forget, if and when she succumbs to the flattery of being in the administration’s planned senatorial slate in 2019.
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