EDITORIAL — The road to democracy

The Philippine Star

August 21, 2023 | 12:00am

Frustrations have been expressed as the nation marks today the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. The murder of Ninoy Aquino and alleged hitman Rolando Galman on Aug. 21, 1983, on the tarmac of what at the time was known as the Manila International Airport, set off mass protests that would culminate in the four-day people power revolt in February 1986 that would bring down the Marcos regime.

On the other hand, those who prefer to look on the bright side, including key members of the current political opposition, point out that since 1986, there has been no return of the dictatorship that will always be associated with the first Marcos administration. The opposition personalities point out that the democracy that was restored in 1986, while still institutionally weak, remains in place today, so Ninoy Aquino did not die in vain.

Ferdinand Marcos’ only son and namesake, now the country’s President, campaigned on a theme of national unity. This will always be a work in progress in this land. To the credit of the second Marcos administration, however, Aug. 21 and the people power anniversary remain national holidays. And the President ignored a bill filed last year by then Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr., to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport.

Teves has been expelled from the House of Representatives amid his refusal to return to the country and face the criminal charges filed against him as the accused mastermind in the assassination of his clan’s political rival, Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, and nine other people at the governor’s home.

Forty years after Ninoy Aquino’s murder, political assassinations continue to be perpetrated with impunity across the country. As in other crimes, the impunity stems from the failure to bring the perpetrators to justice. The weakness of the criminal justice system is among the many roadblocks that must be removed on the path to building a strong democracy. It always bears remembering that Ninoy’s murder played a critical role in opening that path.


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