Sunday, June 13, 2010

#17- Benigno Aquino

Benigno Aquino (1932-1983) was a Filipino who came from the family with a grandfather who had been a general in the Filipino revolutionary army that fought against Spain, and a father prominent official in the government assembled after the fall of Japanese forces in 1941. Nicknamed 'Ninoy', Aquino became a journalist, and used his family name and media contacts to enter politics in the Philippines. When he was only 21 years old, he became a close adviser to Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, and by 1955, he had become the mayor of Concepción. Six years later, Aquino was appointed as the governor of the province of Tarlac. When he was 34, in 1967, Aquino became the youngest elected senator in the country's history. As he rose through the ranks, Aquino became an opponent of Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines. Aquino opposed Marcos's movement towards dictatorship, and also angered the president by attacking the extravagant and ambitious First Lady, Imelda Marcos. In 1971, when leaders of Aquino's Liberal Part were speaking, government agents bombed the public platform, yet none of the bombers were tried. On September 21nd of the next year, Marcos declared martial law, and had Aquino and other opposing politicians arrested. Aquino was sentenced to death by firing squad, but the sentence was never carried out. During his time in prison, where he suffered two heart attacks. On May 8th, 1980, Imelda Marcos went to Aquino's cell and offered him immediate evacuation to the United States if Aquino agreed not to attack the Marcos regime while abroad. Aquino quickly agreed, and went to the United States with his whole family. After making his way to the United States, Aquino underwent a heart operation and soon recovered. After recovering, Aquino renounced his pact with the Marcoses and he criticized the Marcos regime from his home in Boston. While he did this, the Filipino government tried to frame Aquino for a series of bombings in 1981. In early 1983, Aquino learned of the deteriorating political situation and the declining health of Marcos, and decided to return to the Philippines. Filipino consular officials in the United States were ordered not to issue any passports to the Aquino family, and Marcos's government warned all international airlines that they would be denied landing rights if they tried to fly the Aquinos to the Philippines. To keep his return secret, Aquino flew from Boston to Los Angeles, to Singapore, to Hong Kong, to Taipei, then to the Philippines, but his plan had already been discovered, and an assassin was already on his plane to Manila. Unfortunately, Aquino was unable to step back on his homeland one last time, for Aquino was shot in the back of the head as he descended the steps of the plane. Although investigators claimed that Rolando Galman, a man shot dead by airport security, had shot Aquino, one passenger claimed a man in uniform shot the man, but no one knows for certain. Many assumed that the assassination was engineered by Imelda Marcos, because Ferdinand Marcos was reportedly gravely ill, but whoever shot Aquino, his legacy lives on. Aquino's wife, Cory Aquino, later became president of the Philippines, and Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino Jr. has recently been elected as the next president of the Philippines.

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