This Day in History: The Assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino

Ninoy Aquino Day is a non-working holiday in the Philippines observed annually on August 21 commemorating the anniversary of the assassination of one of the greatest Filipino icon of our times, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.. Ninoy was the husband of Corazon Aquino, the 11th president of the Philippines. The two are treated as heroes of democracy in the country.

The holiday was created by RA 9256 which was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 25, 2004, twenty one years after his death and eighteen years after the People Power Revolution. The law requires that EDSA People Power Commission to hold activities in observance of the death anniversary Ninoy and shall be funded from the Budget of the Office of the President and from private donations.
Aquino was a well-known opposition figure of the then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Due to his political stand against the dictator, he was imprisoned for about eight years after the martial law was declared. Even while in prison, Aquino sought for a parliamentary seat for Metro Manila in the Interim Batasang Pambansa under the banner of the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN). He eventually led in the opinion poll and was initially leading the electoral count but eventually lost to the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) slate led by First Lady Imelda Marcos. Aquino remained in prison but continued to fight for democracy in the country and against the oppression of the Filipino people. After suffering from a heart attack in March 1980, he and his family moved to the United States for medical treatment, eventually leading to his self-imposed exile for about three years. There he continued his advocacy by giving speeches to the Fil-Am communities. Later, he planned to return to the Philippines to challenge Marcos for the parliamentary elections in 1984. With all the warnings issued by the Marcos regime if Ninoy insisted on returning to the Philippines, the brave senator from Tarlac arrived at the Manila International Airport (now renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport in his honor), on August 21, 1983 and was shot to death by an assassin’s bullet at the tarmac. This led to several protests at his funeral that sparked the snap election in 1986, which led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution, the eventual Marcos downfall, the Cory Aquino presidency and the restoration of Ninoy Aquino’s dream-the Philippine Democracy.

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