Ninoy’s undelivered speech |


On August 21, 1983, Ninoy Aquino returned from exile in the United States. He had been warned that on his return he would be assassinated or, at the very least, imprisoned. He decided to return to his country anyway. He prepared a speech that he was going to deliver on his return. He couldn’t do it because he was shot on the tarmac. His assassination sparked national outrage and was one of the main causes of the People Power Revolution in 1986.

Here is the undelivered speech of Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.:

I reverted to my free will to join the ranks of those fighting to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence.

I’m not looking for any confrontation. I only pray and fight for true national reconciliation based on justice.

I am prepared for the worst and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual advisor, several of my tested friends and some of my most beloved political mentors.

A death sentence awaits me. Two other subversion charges, both seeking the death penalty, have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending in court.

I could have chosen to seek political asylum in America, but I believe it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with their people, especially in times of crisis.

I never asked for or received any assurances or promises of leniency from the regime. I return voluntarily, armed only with a good conscience and strengthened in the faith that in the end, justice will emerge triumphant.

According to Gandhi, the voluntary sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful response to insolent tyranny that has yet been devised by God and man.

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

Rather than advancing, we have retreated. Murders have increased, the economy has deteriorated and the human rights situation has deteriorated.

During the period of martial law, the Supreme Court heard habeas corpus petitions. It is very ironic, after the so-called lifting of martial law, that the Supreme Court decided last April that it could no longer entertain habeas corpus petitions for those detained under a presidential recognizance order, which covers all so-called national security matters and which under current circumstances can cover almost anything.

The country is well advanced in its troubled times. Economic, social and political problems plague Filipinos. These problems can be overcome if we are united. But we can only be united if all the rights and freedoms we 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 legacy of the Founding Fathers.

Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Should we wait for this patience to wear off?

The national rebellion intensifies and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution.

There is a growing number of young Filipinos who have finally realized that freedom is never granted, it is taken. Do we relive the agonies and bloodshed of the past that gave birth to 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 if the disputing parties had not dared to define their terms.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I will define my terms:

1. Six years ago, I was sentenced to death before a firing squad by a military tribunal whose jurisdiction I have always refused to recognize. Now is the time for the regime to decide. Order my IMMEDIATE EXECUTION or RELEASE ME.

I was sentenced to death for allegedly being the main communist leader. I am not a communist, never have been and never will be.

2. National reconciliation and unity can be achieved but only with justice, including justice for our Muslim brothers and ifugao. There can be no agreement with a dictator. No compromise with the dictatorship.

3. In a revolution, there can really be no winners, only victims. We don’t need to destroy 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 by ever increasing repression but by a fairer distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom; and

5. For the economy to pick up again, the worker must be given his fair and legitimate share of his work, and the owners and managers must be given hope where there is so much uncertainty if not despair.

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

How will freedom be defended? By arms when attacked by arms; by truth when attacked by lies; by democratic faith when attacked by authoritarian dogmas. Always, and in the final act, by determination and faith.

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

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Our next writing date: the Young Writers Hangout on August 27 with returning writer-facilitator Mica Magsanoc, 2-3 p.m.

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