Duterte urges Filipinos to reflect on lessons from Ninoy Aquino

ICON. Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino Jr was regarded as the staunchest opponent of the dictatorship of then president Ferdinand Marcos. Photo from the Presidential Museum and Library Flickr account

ICON. Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino Jr was regarded as the staunchest opponent of the dictatorship of then president Ferdinand Marcos.

Photo from the Presidential Museum and Library Flickr account

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, August 20, called on Filipinos to reflect on lessons from the life of slain democracy icon Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr, "especially in these troubling times."

"History is witness to how Ninoy's work as a journalist and politician drove him to effect positive and meaningful changes in our society," Duterte said in a statement for Aquino's 34th death anniversary.

"Up until the very end of his life, he inspired a peaceful revolution that resulted to liberties we enjoy," the President added. 

Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 at the Manila International Airport (now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) upon arriving from a 3-year self-exile in Boston, Massachusetts. (READ: LOOK BACK: The Aquino assassination) 

The former senator was considered as one of the staunchest opponents of then dictator Ferdinand Marcos. His death galvanized the growing opposition and propelled his wife, Corazon "Cory" Aquino, into the limelight. Cory eventually became the Philippines' first female president after Marcos was ousted in the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Duterte said the former senator's deeds "taught us that we should always aspire for the common good – even if one must go against the grain – and do what is necessary."

"Through his words of wisdom, let us reflect on his life and realize that, indeed, the Filipino is worth dying for," Duterte added.

These glowing words are in contrast to the President's recent remarks against his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, son of Ninoy and Cory.

Earlier this month, Duterte called his predecessor "gago" (an idiot) for saying that the government's bloody drug war is ineffective. To prove the war on drugs is effective, Duterte said that if former president Aquino himself got caught up in drug trafficking, he would be beheaded.

Duterte has been under fire over the thousands of killings linked to his war on drugs, but the President has said that the drug war would be unrelenting. (READ: Duterte on deadly Bulacan drug raids: 'Maganda 'yun')

Duterte is also close to the Marcos family, and in 2016, ordered the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. (READ: Duterte on Marcos burial: Let history judge, I followed law)

The President also previously warned that the martial law he declared in Mindanao – in effect until December 31would be similar to martial law during the Marcos dictatorship.

Last August 1, Cory's 8th death anniversary, her son had urged Filipinos to protect democracy.

"Maski anong bagay 'pag pinabayaan ay guguho eh, mawawala. Parang obligasyon natin na nagmana sa lahat ng sakripisyo ng nauna sa 'tin na ipagtanggol 'yung mga karapatan na 'di binigay, ipinaglaban," former president Aquino said.

(Anything that is neglected will crumble or be lost. It's our obligation, those of us who inherited the sacrifices of the earlier generation, to fight for the rights that were not just given to us but were fought for.) – Rappler.com