MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday urged the public to emulate martyred Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. who believed in "a better future for Filipinos" as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Aquino, who was assassinated 37 years ago to this day, endured "long years of imprisonment, separation from his family, suffering, and exile" during the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos, said Robredo.
Yet, Aquino "believed in a better future for Filipinos even when it was not easy" and "clung to the unshakeable belief that the dark night would pass and dawn would break over the land he loved," the Vice President said in a statement.
"This is a sentiment that we all hold— that things should be better, and things can get better. Our strength as a nation emanates from our collective resolve to do what we can to move towards this better horizon," she added.
Aquino was shot dead in the tarmac of the capital's main airport, seconds after leaving the plane that brought him back from a 3-year exile in the US in 1983.
His death showed that "we are all bound together — even more tightly during times of oppression, suffering, and crisis," said Robredo.
"Sa halip na matakot, lalo tayong tumapang. Sa halip na sumuko, nagkaisa tayo at tumindig... Namulat tayong magkakarugtong ang diwa natin— na ang sistemang kayang pumaslang sa isa ay sistemang kayang pumaslang sa lahat," the Vice President said.
(Instead of cowering, we became even more bold. Instead of giving up, we united and stood up. We realized that our spirits are connected -- that a system which can kill one of us is a system that can kill all of us.)
"Today, as we endure yet another dark night, we draw inspiration from Ninoy's story: From his courage, from his steadfast faith in our people, from his heroism," she said.
Three years after Aquino's death, the People Power revolution installed his widow Corazon as president and toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
Their son, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, was the predecessor to the incumbent, President Rodrigo Duterte. Aquino's Liberal Party is currently the political opposition and is chaired by Robredo.
August 21 is a special non-working holiday that commemorates Ninoy's death anniversary.