On this day August 21, 1983

Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. is assassinated upon returning home from exile in the United States at the Manila International Airport (now renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport).

Aftermath of the assassination

Aftermath of the assassination

Aquino born November 27, 1932 was a Philippine Senator, Governor of Tarlac, and an opposition leader against President Ferdinand Marcos.

His death catapulted his widow, Corazon Aquino, to the limelight and subsequently to the presidency, replacing the 20-year Marcos regime.

Despite a convoy of security guards (all assigned to him by the Marcos government), a contingent of 1,200 military and police personnel on the tarmac, three armed bodyguards personally escorting him, and a bulletproof vest Aquino was wearing, Aquino was fatally shot in the head as he was escorted off the airplane.

From the airplane, aviation security personell were seen firing into the body of an unknown man dressed in blue, who was identified as Rolando Galman. Aquino’s body was quickly loaded into a van and sped away.

The government claimed that Aquino was killed by a Communist hitman named Rolando “Rolly” Galman, who was shot dead at the scene by the aviation security. However, politicians and diplomats found evident contradictions between the claim and the photos and the videotape footage that documented the time before and after the shooting. The footage had circulated throughout the Philippines at that time.

Everyone from the Central Intelligence Agency, to the United Nations, to the Communist Party of the Philippines to First Lady Imelda Marcos was accused of conspiracy. President Marcos was reportedly gravely ill, recovering from a kidney transplant when the incident occurred. Theories arose as to who was in charge and who ordered the execution. Some hypothesized that Marcos had a long-standing order for Aquino’s murder upon the latter’s return.

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