Declassified US cables reveal Ninoy Aquino open to supporting martial law in 1972

Friday January 06, 2017 ()

Ninoy Aquino martial law

In his piece "What Ninoy told the US about Marcos" published on the Inquirer today on January 6, 2017, columnist Ambeth Ocamo reveals some interesting things the late former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr reportedly told American diplomat John Forbes. Forbes documented his conversation with Aquino in a confidential telegram sent to the US State Department on September 21, 1972.

In his report, Forbes detailed how Aquino noted the "rapidly worsening law and order and Communist dissident problems" of the time and the economic woes faced by the Marcos government. In light of these challenges, Aquino reportedly believed "that Marcos must take strong actions in the near future and that these will include martial law". Interestingly, Aquino reportedly said that he would support Marcos's plan to implement martial law even as he doubted that the government possessed adequate resources to carry it out.

Declassified US cables reveal Ninoy Aquino open to supporting martial law in 1972

Strangely, Aquino at the time was also "keeping open an option to lead an anti-Marcos revolution in alliance with the Communists." This reveals a glaring inconsitency in the position Aquino took. On one hand, he had recognised the merits of the what, at the time, was the Marcos government's option of declaring martial law to address, among others, "Communist dissident problems". On the other, Aquino also seriously considered, at the same time, the option to collaborate with those very same communists. What's up with that? Was Aquino suffering some kind of bizarre psychosis during his conversation with Forbes?

More revealing is Aquino's stated justification for that possible collaboration with the commies; that, at the time, "the possibilities of his becoming head of government by legitimate means [were] quickly diminishing". Aquino, it seems, had always regarded legitimacy as a roadblock rather than a means to acquiring power. Indeed it turns out that Aquino was, himself, a key part of the problems that kept the Philippines on a firm trajectory towards the Martial Law regime that was to come to be.

Finally, to those who harshly judge current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for the allegedly "murderous" pronouncements that, nonetheless, resonated with a crime-weary electorate and catapulted him to power, Aquino himself was not above applying the same bravado to describing his planned leadership style.

Aquino said that if he were president he wouldn't hesitate to take strong measures and said he would "execute corrupt officials at Luneta as a lesson to other officials that he meant business."

Ocampo observes, "So much of our contemporary history lies waiting to be uncovered in the United States." In short, there is more to Philippine history and many other alternative angles to consider that lie outside of the inbred work of popular Filipino historians and historical "analysts". This piece of insight is important considering the shrill voices that pompously lay unfounded and unqualified claim to the "truth" about the Philippines and what is considered to be the "decent" and "moral" position to take in its politics.


  1. Secret US cables reveal Ninoy Aquino open to supporting martial law in 1972 by benign0, January 6, 2017, Get Real Philippines


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