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Who killed Ninoy? (2)

Excerpts from my 2003 series on the 16 men convicted in the Aquino-Galman double-murder case.)

Was he or was he not the triggerman? Was he the one who caused the instant death of homecoming former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino? Who ordered him to it?

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CIC Rogelio Moreno has been tagged as the triggerman. The court ruled so. A member of the boarding party that went up the China Airlines plane to escort Aquino down the stairs to a waiting SWAT van, Moreno was supposed to have shot Aquino on the nape as the senator was about to step onto the tarmac. Just one shot. Moreno was found positive for powder burns, but there were other reasons he was “the one.”

Rolando Galman did it, Moreno’s fellow convicts assert to clear him. But the mysterious Galman is dead, peppered with bullets beside the prostrate Aquino, and he could not give his version.

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Lean, lanky Moreno, now 47, was a member of the Philippine Constabulary and assigned to the Aviation Security Command (Avsecom). Moreno hails from San Carlos City in Pangasinan. Moreno says: “Dapat
itinuro na nila ako.” The other members of the boarding party would have pointed at him by now, he says wryly. There is no tension in his voice, no hint of rancor.

The pressure was not on Moreno but on Sgt. Pablo Martinez. The man under the stairs with Galman, Martinez gave his account on what transpired a few days before Aug. 21 (serialized in the Inquirer in 1995), but whose revelations no group or individuals have taken up.

All Moreno could say about his incarceration is that it has had a great effect on his immediate family.

Moreno’s wife Alice dwells on the events of 1983 as if it happened only yesterday. They were living in Tondo at that time, she recalls, and she was working in Rubberworld in Novaliches. Their only child, a daughter, was 1 year old.

Moreno came home after having been away for three days and told Alice to help him prepare his clothes because “may misyon daw (they had a mission).” He didn’t know in what airport, maybe Cebu. That was Aug. 20.

Alice went back to the factory for the night shift feeling ill at ease. She went home and left again for work in the afternoon of Aug. 21. Someone told her: “Hoy, pinatay si Ninoy. (Hey, Ninoy was killed.)”

It must have been a day or two after
Ninoy was killed that Moreno came home and told her: “Ma, there was a problem. We don’t know what will happen.” He had just come from the National Bureau of Investigation. Alice remembers: “He said they could not prevent what happened. He was always crying. I told him, Pang, you were not the only one there.”

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Shortly after, all kinds of people visited their house. The landlady, though sympathetic to the Morenos, advised them to transfer. They moved to Novaliches where she was working.

Alice was not in the courthouse when the Sandiganbayan gave its verdict in September 1990. She expected things to turn out well. Her supervisor advised her to take the day off so she could watch the proceedings on TV. When the verdict was read, Alice became hysterical. “I was rolling on the floor, from the living room to the kitchen.”

It took some time for Alice to recover from the shock and to accept that she would have to go through life without Roger. Alice left her daughter in the care of her sister and worked abroad as domestic helper for four years.
One time her daughter, in fifth grade then, wrote her to ask why her father was behind bars. Alice answered: “Nasa preso si Papa dahil sa hanapbuhay. (Papa is in prison because of his job.)”

Her daughter had kept this information from her classmates, Alice recounts. “I was going to her school once and she said I shouldn’t because she had told her classmates that I was working in Hong Kong and her father was in Saudi Arabia.” When her daughter entered high school, Alice came home to be with her.

Alice now lives in a low-cost subdivision in Novaliches. It is on a lot she and her brother co-own. Alice has a tiny sari-sari store which gives her some income.

Life has been hard, she says. “Buhol-buhol sa utang. (Tied up in debts.)” There were times when there was no rice. But thanks to the Jesuit Prison Service Program, her daughter graduated last March. She started working in a bank two months ago. Her close friends now know about her father’s case.

Alice wishes she could have an audience with “Madam Cory.” She hopes President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would look kindly on her husband’s case. She says in Filipino: “I hope it crosses her mind that we too have families, that we want families that are whole. I never had the chance to enjoy my married life.”

Meanwhile, Moreno prepares for the day when he could walk free. He studied refrigeration in prison. His skill, he hopes, would help him take on the world outside.

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TAGS: Aquino-Galman double-murder case, benigno ‘ninoy’ Aquino
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