Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ninoy Aquino Assasination: An Unsolved Crime

Thought I'll share this editorial I read about the Presidential clemency GMA gave to the remaining soldiers convicted of assasinating Ninoy Aquino and Rolando Galman. Please share your thoughts on this issue. Is this fair? Has justice been served? How can Filipino pursue reconciliation with Ninoy's murders?

Pardon is granted to a convict who has admitted his crime, shown remorse and appears to be fully rehabilitated and ready to become a responsible citizen. In the case of the soldiers convicted of assassinating Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and then finishing off Rolando Galman, all continue to maintain their innocence and pointing to Galman as Aquino’s assassin — the same story given to the nation by the Marcos dictatorship. In the absence of an admission of guilt, there is also no remorse.

The slain senator’s heirs, led by former President Corazon Aquino, believe two crimes were committed on Sept. 21, 1983: the murders of two men, and the cover-up that followed. Both crimes remain unsolved, with the mastermind of the first felony still unidentified, and the second one a continuing offense, according to the family.

The views of Ninoy Aquino’s heirs are worth noting as two more of the convicts in the twin murders regained their freedom. Last week Felizardo Taran Jr. and Rolando de Guzman walked out of the New Bilibid Prisons after President Arroyo commuted their sentence. Their release followed that of M/Sgt. Pablo Martinez in November 2007. The releases have raised the hopes for freedom of the 10 more soldiers serving double life terms for the Aquino-Galman murders.

Taran and De Guzman are reportedly ailing and were freed for humanitarian reasons. Ninoy Aquino’s son and namesake, who is now a senator, countered that if the release was on humanitarian grounds, then a convict serving time for stealing a coconut should have been freed first. Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III pointed out that none of those convicted of assassinating his father and Galman has admitted guilt, shown remorse or apologized for their crime.

The absence of those factors in a presidential decision to free convicts is not new. President Arroyo also pardoned her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, as soon as he was convicted of plunder, ensuring that he would never set foot in a prison cell, even if to this day he maintains his innocence.

Unless otherwise stipulated in the sentence, convicts are entitled to presidential clemency and credits for good behavior while in prison. They can be freed any time after they have served their minimum sentence. But the sentiments of the heirs of Ninoy Aquino about this crime cannot be ignored. As far as they are concerned, justice in this case has not been served.

(Source: The Philippines Star, February 11, 2009)

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