it was while i was writing marginal notes to the ishmael bernal anti bio, grounding a “dialogue” between bernal and jorge arago (both leftists at some point) in the culture and history of their times, when i found myself forced to deal with senate president jovito salonga’s studied view that it was cpp chairman jose maria sison who had ordered the bombing of plaza miranda in august 1971, and not, as we all had believed, president marcos.
sison has always denied it. of course. but salonga was known for rectitude and probity; he would not have charged sison so unequivocally if there had been any doubt in his mind. and in this light there is no ignoring related questions raised re ninoy aquino who was expected at that miting de avance of the liberal party of which he was secretary-general. it is said that he was just delayed by a wedding that he had had to attend; but it is also said that he had been warned to stay away from plaza miranda by a kadre friend, thereby insinuating that ninoy had not only saved only his own skin, but even that he had been complicit in the bombing.
i wondered if that was that why ninoy stayed and submitted to arrest in september 1972 instead of going underground or fleeing into exile — he felt that he deserved some punishment for plaza miranda? perhaps he could have done something to prevent the carnage? but what if maybe, if there had been a warning, it had come too late to warn anyone else? more recently, as i was reading up on the affair and writing this blogpost in my head, i wondered if the discovery that sison was responsible for plaza miranda may have affected the way that the senator had felt about ninoy, given the latter’s admitted links to the ccp-npa.
steve salonga, a friend from u.p. days and on facebook today, was quick to enlighten me via private message:
I looked positively at those links [of Ninoy with the CPP-NPA]. That happened way before Miranda and has no relation to later events. Most of what you hear about that today was actually trumped up ‘evidence’ during Ninoys military trial for murder.
Dad began hearing the ‘scuttle-butt’ about JOMA ordering the Plaza Miranda operations as early as 1982. Although it wouldn’t be until 1990 that testimony at a senate blue ribbon comm hearing would expose the whole fiasco.
The rumors that Ninoy knew about the bombing before the fact are true, but then, so did we. At that time we had raw intel of a plan to bomb our campaign sorties. But nothing definite. After Miranda, the rumors about Ninoys surfaced. But neither Dad nor I believed any of it. We knew Ninoy was at a party with Doy Laurel at the Sky Room at Jai Alai. We also knew he would follow shortly after that party. We never changed our mind about his innocence.
just the same it boggles the mind that when ninoy came home from exile, he timed it so that he landed on the tarmac on the 21st of august 1983, twelve years to the day since the plaza miranda bombing. at the very least, it tells me that august 21, 1971 was a critical juncture in his life that he deemed worth marking. with his death, as it turned out.
Truth about blast first told in Sierra Madre by Jovito Salonga
Revolution by assassination? by Max Soliven
Days of Shame: August 21, 1971 and 1983 by Rigoberto Tiglao
Once upon a ride to the Plaza Miranda bombing Part 1 by Mauro Gia Samonte
Part 2 … Conclusion
Ninoy Aquino, the Plaza Miranda bombing and Japanese collaborators
Jose Maria Sison Arrested by Dutch Govt for Murder
Victor Corpuz, Joma Sison, Martial Law, Plaza Miranda Bombing