joma sison, plaza miranda, ninoy aquino

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


  1. john c. jacinto

    I am of the belief that Ninoy was told of the bomb plot only a few minutes before the actual bombing – when there was not enough time for him to warn his LP party mates. I cannot accept the insinuation that Ninoy was one of the plotters. He would not have agreed to exterminate the LP and become a solo opposition figure fighting the Marcos hegemony.

      • ricelander

        I too find it hard to believe he was in on the plot. But
        I wonder how he reacted in the aftermath of the bombing. I am looking for old files of newspapers. Is it true he rushed to the scene, armalite hung over his shoulder and right then pointed to Marcos as the culprit? Now, if indeed he was warned, then he knew from the start it was not Marcos!

    • but it’s truly dismaying how there are so many gaps in the history, from plaza miranda to the aquino assassination, which makes it so easy to demean ninoy’s legacy. it doesn’t help that his own children do not care to share with us his prodigious writings while in exile, nor to track down his killers, let the chips fall where they may.

  2. Batang-Genyo, Alah Eh

    Perhaps, historians should review and study the participation of then Col. Victor Corpus who defected to the CCP in his revelation of the plot to bomb the LP rally. It was reported that when he returned back to fold of government service in the AFP, he went to Malacanang and made a “salute” to FM stating “Mission Accomplished, SIR”. He was sent by FM to infiltrate the Communist movement which was getting stronger and popular because of the founding of Kabataang Makabayan, a Joma inspired nationalist youth movement who were making a tactical alliance among students, labor unions and farmers. Col. Corpus as the a fresh graduate of PMA when he raided the armory while FM was in Baguio.
    A senior alumnus of DLSC when Chito sta. Romana and Edgar Jopson were leading the student protest movement at that time, he could have prove credible as a symphatizer and proved moral support to the cause oriented movement.

    • Batang-Genyo, Alah Eh

      I believe without doubt that Sen. Ninoy had a prior knowledge of the LP rally bombing because he was in touch with both the rightist and leftist movements at that time and in fact, it was known among the underground movement he used the name of “commander Dante”, a NPA rebel who was killed, in his frequent comments about the social revolution situation which he wrote to Letter to the Editor section of Manila Times and other broadsheet. If I may recall.

  3. Batang-Genyo, Alah Eh

    The first and last time I saw, heard and watch with doubting mind of Joma Sison, was when he was invited by the DLSC Student Council to speak before the student body in a seminar about the economic, social and political situation of our country. I think Mr. Art Aguilar was our SC Chairman, who hails from the Negros which known for its vast and rich tract of sugar haciendas. I was then a freshman who was introduced to the ideas of Marxism and Maoism, and the topic of the “teach-in” was interesting for me. Unfortunately, if I recall, when Joma Sison accused the landlords of haciendas of exploiting the sacadas, those migrant farmers, of economic and social benefits, the students howled with protest saying its not true. So the seminar was ended with a sour note.
    Now, I can tell who is a true blue Communist and those who tries to equate Christian Socialism with this idealogy.

  4. Hi Angela! Long time no hear!

    Ipagpalagay lang nating totoo ang kwento. Baka hindi papayag si Ninoy sa bombing, kasi ang sabi sa libro ni Salonga, ang objective ay itulak ang Martial Law. So sira ang presidential ambitions ni Ninoy.

    Pero mas ang basis ni Salonga sa libro niya ay iyung logic ng tactic. So parang may nakita siyang brilliant tactic at dahil doon ay kumbinsido na siyang CPP nga ang may gawa.

    • uy, teo! long time nga! kumusta na, ang dami nang nangyari, ‘no? but yes. quite likely ninoy was not asked kung ok lang sa kanya. kaya kapanipaniwala na last-minute ang warning sa kanya, kung naparating nga.

      pero ang objective nga ba ay itulak ang martial law? hindi ba in aid of blaming it on and demonizing marcos tungo sa destabilizaion and recruitment of new members for the party? on second thought, puwedeng all of the above. brilliant tactic nga.

      salamat at napasyal ka.