August 21, 2007 issue
This is a reprise of an article that appeared in the August 26, 2004 issue of The Manila Standard and the Sept. 04, 2004 issue of the Philippines Free Press. It is one of the most read articles in www.tapatt.org.
Even after 21 years, it can be said with certainty that Ninoy Aquino was not killed by the communists, nor by Rolando Galman, who was positioned under one of the engines of the jetliner, dressed as a maintenance mechanic, as Ninoy was led down the stairway by his military escort.
Some nine hours after Ninoy’s assassination, President Marcos announced that Galman had been hired by the communists to kill Ninoy, but he was believed by no one. That Macoy was telling an obvious lie merely reinforced public perception that the assassination had been masterminded by someone in or close to Malacanang.
The forensic evidence submitted to the trial court established that the trajectory of the fatal bullet was “forward, downward and medially”, the bullet entering Aquino’s skull near his left ear and exiting at his chin. This was consistent with the gun being fired at Aquino by someone behind him who was at a higher plane than he was, such as someone who was one or two steps behind him on a downward flight of stairs.
Since they were of similar height, if Galman had indeed shot Aquino at ground level, as claimed by Marcos and his military, Galman would have been jumping up in the air, or holding his revolver above his own head, at the moment that the shot was fired. A ridiculous firing position for anyone, especially a cold-blooded assassin.
So there is absolutely no doubt that Aquino was shot by one of his military escorts as he was being led down the stairway. Galman was shot as the fall guy so that Marcos would have his “communist” hit man to blame for the dastardly deed. And Galman was shot, not once like Ninoy with a pistol, but several times with assault rifles. They really wanted to make sure that Galman was daid. Dead men tell no tales.
But live ones do. Interest is being fanned to re-open the Aquino-Galman double murder case, largely on the written testimony of one of the convicted conspirators, M/Sgt. Pablo Martinez, submitted to the Public Attorney’s Office. In his affidavit, Martinez claims that he had personal knowledge of the Aquino-Galman murder plot.
He said he was tasked by Col. Romeo Ochoco, then deputy commander of the defunct Aviation Security Command or Avsecom; Brig. Gen. Romeo Gatan of the Constabulary; and Herminio Gosuico, a civilian businessman from Nueva Ecija, to escort Galman from a hotel near the airport to the tarmac, to await the arrival of Ninoy from Taipeh. Martinez said that two of the three men (not all three, as reported in some media) were associated with businessman Danding Cojuangco.
(The records of the Agrava Fact-Finding Commission showed that Gosuico, along with Air Force Col. Arturo Custodio and two others, fetched Galman from his house in San Miguel, Bulacan, on Aug.17, 1983.)
This is not the first time that Martinez has made public his involvement in the plot. In March 1995, in one of a series of eight articles by Raymond C. Burgos in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Martinez revealed that his mission, as spelled out by Col. Ochoco, was, in the event that Galman failed to shoot Aquino, to kill Galman and then finish off Aquino.
Martinez said he and Galman were briefed on the assassination plot at the Carlston Hotel near the domestic airport on the night of Aug. 20, 1983. Present at that briefing were Gen. Gatan, Col. Ochoco and Gosuico. That evening, Ochoco gave Galman a .357 Magnum revolver, while Martinez was given a Smith & Wesson .38 cal .revolver. (There is no space here to go into all the details. Watch out for them in www.tapatt.org.)
Martinez said that on the morning of Aug. 21, two female friends of Galman dropped by to have breakfast with him and Galman. It was the first and last time that he, Martinez, saw the two women. Several days after the assassination, he saw their pictures in the newspapers; they had been reported missing.
The two women turned out to be Galman’s girlfriend Anna Oliva and her sister Catherine. They were snatched by unidentified men from their workplace on Sept. 4, 1983 and were never seen alive again. Their remains were later exhumed from a sugarcane field in Capas, Tarlac in 1988.
Galman’s wife Lina Lazaro was picked up by two men from her house on Jan. 29, 1984 and was never seen again. During the Agrava Fact-Finding inquiry, Gosuico was identified as one of those two men by Galman’s son Reynaldo and stepdaughter Roberta Masibay.
Clearly, Martinez’ mention of Ochoco’s and Gatan’s participation in the assassination plot constituted new evidence since the two were never indicted in the Agrava Fact Finding inquiry nor in the Sandigambayan trial that convicted the 16 soldiers. But the case was not reopened in 1995 despite the efforts of then Sen. Blas Ople and then state prosecutor (now Justice Secretary) Raul Gonzalez.
In another series of articles by Burgos in the Inquirer in August 1995, Gonzalez was quoted that the government could have won more convictions if then President Corazon Aquino “had shown as much enthusiasm and interest in her husband’s murder trial as in her libel case against (then Philippine Star) columnist (now dead) Luis Beltran.”
This statement must be taken in the context of Rep. Noynoy Aquino’s repeated demurrals over the past few years that his uncle Danding Couangco had anything to do with the assassination of his father Ninoy, while no less than one of the convicted conspirators has issued statements and signed affidavits, apparently without anyone pressuring him to do so, that Danding had something to do with it.
Are we seeing here an attempt to hide – or at least to prevent from being made public - some dirty linens in the interconnected family closets of the Aquinos and Cojuangcos? After all, some of those who knew him well say that despite his well-deserved status as hero and martyr, Ninoy was no saint or angel.
In a letter to then President Fidel Ramos dated Jan 19, 1994, and quoted by Burgos in his Inquirer story of March 13, 1995, M/Sgt. Martinez wrote “The men who engineered the assassination were Gen. Romeo Gatan, Mr. Hermilo (sic) ‘Boy’ Gosuico (who) were both men of Danding Cojuangco, while Col. Romeo Ochoco was the man of Gen. Fabian Ver, AFP chief-of-staff, during that period……I wrote this handwritten testimony of mine to reveal some cover-up information which were not revealed during the inquisition in court….”
Needless to say, President Ramos did nothing to reopen the case despite the new information from Martinez.
According to Burgos in the Inquirer of August 21, 2004, Gen. Gatan died of a heart ailment at an unspecified date. Col. Ochoco stayed in the Air Force even after Edsa 1, but left for the US shortly before the Sandigambayan convicted the 16 conspirators and has lived in California (Stockton, if I recall) since.
Gosuico died “a few years ago.” He was one of the original 26 principal suspects but was acquitted by the Sandigambayan. Acquitted? The man who was one of those who fetched Galman from Bulacan on Aug. 17, who was present at the last-minute briefing of the designated assassin on Aug. 20, and who was one of those who picked up Galman’s wife Liza on Jan. 27, 1984………….this man was acquitted? What do Filipino investigators and prosecutors have between their ears? Taho?
Whether or not “millionaire businessman” Gosuico was really a “man” of Cojuangco, as Martinez claims, he appears to be THE key element in this puzzle. And yet no one in media, not even Burgos and the Inquirer, seems to have been inquisitive enough to inquire what a civilian like him was doing messing around with military gorillas, how he amassed his alleged millions, who his business principals and customers were, what his connections were with Cojuangco, if any, and why he was involved in an assassination.
Did he die of an illness or an accident, or was he eliminated because he knew too much?
A perfect project for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Unless they are afraid of losing their endowment from San Miguel. This seems to be part of our Freedom of Depress.
I have always been convinced that Ninoy was assassinated because he was seen as a spoiler of someone’s plans to succeed the dying Marcos. According to Today of August 20, 2004, Martinez stated in his affidavit that Ochoco talked to him one month before Ninoy’s arrival.
“Ochoco allegedly said that Ninoy would be the next president of the country, being Marcos’ choice as successor. However, he was told by Ochoco that people around Marcos were displeased by his decision, and wanted Aquino assassinated upon his arrival….”
In 1983, only two individuals were in place and ambitious and powerful enough to aspire to succeed Ferdinand Marcos: his wife Imelda and his crony Danding, with Fabian Ver a very unlikely third. Who killed Ninoy? Col. Ochoco knows. An in-depth profile of the late Gosuico would likely also show. *****
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Comment by GUEST on 2007-09-17 18:29:58
WHO ELSE IS IN - CHARGE FOR MINISTER DEFENSE AT THAT TIME AND YEAR JUAN PONCE ENRILE IS THE POINTER FINGER TO BLAME OF WHAT HAPPEN TO HIS ASSASINATION BESIDES DANDING MUST HAVE A BIG GRUDGES ABOUT HIS COUSIN IN-LAW DURING HIS TME AND WHY?