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August 21

By: Erik Espina

THE worse form of political censorship is an assassination. In the civilized-world this is condemnable and criminal.

For modern democracies, a throw-back to the Middle Ages with plots, conspiracies, subterfuge, and violence as staple for succession to the throne, toppling down kingdoms or crowns passing-over to ambitious and quarrelsome kins, and victorious challengers. The ‘Divine-Right Theory’ and the force of arms eventually genuflected to the indomitable spirit of human reason, institutionalized law, and republican representation.

The nature of August 21 is a recollection of two periods in our turbulent political life as a people baby-stepping into democracy. August 21, 1971 was the bloody Plaza Miranda Bombing tolling nine lives and 95 wounded during the Liberal Party (LP) ‘Miting de Avance’. The carnage, ironically, exploded right at the footstool of the much revered Quiapo Church. Accusations of a Palace conspiracy to massacre the LP leadership flew high and wide gaining public anger and sympathy. The outcome was a back-lash on the Marcos senatorial ticket. There were six LP senators elected, with only two from the Nacionalista Party. Senator Eddie Ilarde another victim in said incident, remained the lone voice in the party who believed Malacañang was not involved. Many years later, Senators Jovito Salonga and Eva Estrada-Kalaw (respective autobiographies) exposed newly found evidence of Jose Ma Sison and the Communist Party being the master-mind of the bombing. The other August 21 happened in 1983 with the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in his homecoming in the tarmac of Manila. The original date set by the Tarlac senator was September. Consultations by the late Senator Doy Laurel with my father (Sen. Rene Espina) then Secretary-General of Unido, made the date August 21 in remembrance of Plaza Miranda. Interestingly, history and accidents has a way of aligning with one’s fate to have had the single LP Senator curiously absent in the 1971 bombing, come home.

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