Martial Law 50 years after
CHARLIE V. MANALO To be concluded tomorrow, Sept. 24, 2022
The Manila Times
WThird of 4 parts HILE many articles and books have been written to expose the real culprits behind Plaza Miranda bombing, many still regard this as plain chismis or gossip, having failed to come up with names of actual people who participated or who have firsthand knowledge of the matter. A former cadre who calls himself Ka Jun Jimenez, gave a more detailed story on the Plaza Miranda bombing at a media forum held recently in Quezon City. In the interview, Ka Jun said that aside from Sison, there are at least three individuals who were involved in the planning of the Plaza Miranda bombing and in the execution of the bomb-thrower — Danny Cordero — who are still living. Ka Jun said the others involved were Mariano Laxa, whose whereabouts are unknown; Herminigildo Garcia who is now based in Canada with his wife, Mila Astorga Garcia; and, Herminio Espiritu, who was known by his nom de guerre Ruth Firmeza when he was with the NPA Northern Luzon Command. Now based in the US and living as “Art Garcia,” — the name of a former member of the CPP politburo who was killed in an encounter in Capas, Tarlac, in 1969 — Espiritu is now the secretary of CPP USA and North Hemisphere branch, according to Ka Jun. Ka Jun further said that Espiritu was a member of the nine-man committee which sentenced to death Danny Cordero, the man who threw the grenades at the LP rally in Plaza Miranda. Chronology of events Ka Jun recalls the chronology of events leading to the bombing and the arms landing: 1. Ibarra Tubianosa and Sison led the 10-man CPP secret delegation that went to China in July 1971 to negotiate with a highranking official of the Chinese Communist Party, Kang Sheng, trusted lieutenant of Deng Xiaoping, for the smuggling of firearms to the Philippines. The group was provided a mission house in Beijing by the Chinese Communist Party leaders. The plan was to smuggle the war materials from China via Macau; 2. At about the same time, Danny Cordero, a recruit from the Kabataang Makabayan in Caloocan who was newly promoted as member of the Manila-Rizal party committee, was given the task of throwing the grenades at the LP event in Plaza Miranda; 3. On the night of Aug. 21, 1971, while Cordero and two others, Bob Paquiz and Cecil Apostol were sent on their mission, Sison met with Reuben Guevarra, Manuel Collantes and Herminigildo Garcia at a party safehouse in Parañaque. At the meeting, Sison revealed that the bombing would take place that night which he expected would drive a wedge between the ruling class “up to the point they would start killing each other”; 4. 10 p.m., Aug. 21, 1971 — Just minutes after Sison’s meeting, three grenades were hurled at the LP event in Plaza Miranda though only two detonated. The blast instantly killed a press photographer, two children and six others, and left more than 100 individuals injured. Included among the injured were eight LP candidates, including the late senator Jovito Salonga; 5. After the bombing, Cordero, Apostol and another KM activist, a certain Dany, were immediately brought to Isabela province to join the NPA forces there; 6. As Sison accurately predicted, the bombing split the ruling class as Marcos immediately pointed to Ninoy Aquino who was conspicuously absent from the rally, as the mastermind of the bombing; 7. And as expected also, Marcos launched a crackdown on student activist organizations, resulting in more than a hundred activists joining the underground movement as combatants in just a week; 8. Eleven months after the Plaza Miranda bombing, the M/V Karagatan, carrying around 1,200 high-powered rifles such as the US-made M-14, landed in Palanan, Isabela. The shipment was later intercepted by government forces; 9. At that time, Cordero, apparently confused about the direction of the revolution, not having been briefed on CPP/ NPA plans after the bombing and the M/V Karagatan incident, started spewing forth about his participation in the Plaza Miranda bombing to other party members; 10. Informed that Cordero was spilling on the highly guarded party secret regarding the Plaza Mranda bombing, the party hierarchy charged Cordero with rebellion; 11. Reuben Guevarra formed a nine-man military tribunal which tried Cordero. Among the members of the tribunal were Herminio Espiritu aka Ruth Firmeza and Ariel Almendral who served as Cordero’s counsel; During the hearing, Cordero admitted that he was the one who had thrown the grenades at the LP rally in Plaza Miranda upon orders of the higher organ of the party; 12. By a vote of 6 to 3, Cordero was meted the death sentence. The sentence was carried out by Elizabeth Principe who shot him at the back of the head; 13. Not long afterwards, Cordero’s companions, Cecil Apostol and a certain Danny, were killed in an encounter with government forces; 14. After two years, the CPP again tried to smuggle arms into the Philippines. However, the M/V Doña Aurora, which was supposed to ship the arms, encountered mechanical problems and was stranded on Pratas island near Hainan, China. Important notes on the bombing The late senator Jovito Salonga questioned why Ninoy Aquino, who was then dubbed as “unrivaled star of the Liberal Party,” was absent from the grand rally. According to reports, Aquino was, at that time, at the Sky Room of the Jai alai on Taft Avenue in Manila, celebrating a friend’s birthday. His trip to Plaza Miranda was said to have been delayed as he was still waiting for Cocoy Laurel to finish his performance. But according to Ka Jun, an ex-CPP cadre, Kumander Pusa, who was known to be close to Ninoy, personally warned the late senator to take his time going to Plaza Miranda. Ka Jun adds that another former leftist leader, Fluellen Ortigas, now based in the US and one of those who were with Ninoy at that time, revealed that they were puzzled then as to why Ninoy appeared to be unprepared to attend the ongoing LP grand rally in Plaza Miranda. Former newsman and senior CPP cadre Ricardo “Dick” Malay, brother-in-law of Satur Ocampo, also pointed to Sison as the brains behind the bombing. Malay headed the “advance party” of the CPP delegation that went to China, and was primarily responsible for the planning of the M/V Karagatan arms smuggling. Not surprisingly, Sison, who has been residing in Utrecht since 1988, has constantly denied the CPP’s involvement in the bombing, even declaring that when the bombing took place, “the Liberal Party at the time was our ally of sorts.” The unholy alliance collapses As it became evident during the early part of the 1980s, there was a weakening of the Marcos regime after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. The Left and oligarch-led opposition (the precursor of the Yellows) launched a massive campaign to force Marcos out, calling for a “Friday Habit” which was actually a weekly mobilization which grew more violent with each staging. Marcos was forced to heed the demands of the opposition and called for a snap election in 1986. This was where the alliance between the Left and Yellows broke up. The Left wanted a boycott of the snap election as they were aware they could not seize power through an election while the Yellows were confident they could topple the strongman. The Feb. 7, 1986 snap election, however, was marred by allegations of massive cheating, which led to the so-called 1986 EDSA Revolution. And 36 years ago, the late Ferdinand Edralin Marcos voluntarily or coerced by a foreign power, according to some accounts, vacated the Palace to avoid a bloodbath as his most trusted aide, Gen. Fabian Ver, was raring to slug it out with the putschists led by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Gen. Fidel Ramos. The two were backed by tens of thousands of people who had gathered at EDSA. (Believe me, that span of EDSA cannot accommodate two million as claimed by some writers). The rest is history. Cory Aquino assumed power. The first thing she did was to do away with all things associated with Marcos and continued demonizing the former president, a campaign started by her late husband, Ninoy. And that is what the Yellows have been doing for the past 36 years. Textbooks were even rewritten to adapt to their version of history. Unfortunately, they failed as despite their massive propaganda against the Marcoses, an offspring — Bongbong or BBM to his supporters — was able to stage a political comeback on behalf of his maligned family.