The remaining 10 former soldiers involved in the murder of former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" S. Aquino, Jr. were freed yesterday, March 4; after 26 years of imprisonment in New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Rizal; on the strength of release orders signed by Sec. Raul Gonzales of the Department of Justice based on the commutation order from Malacanang office.
But who will forget that fateful event of August 21, 1983, the assassination of Ninoy has brought the nation to a standstill. So many military officers and allies of former President Marcos were implicated by the investigation commission, the defendants were acquitted in the 1985 trial.
In 1986, Mrs. Cory Aquino was sworn into office as elected President of the Philippines through Peoples Power Revolution, and the Supreme Court has declared Ninoy Aquino's murder trial a "mistrial". A new trial was commissioned and in 1990, sixteen military officials were convicted for their participation in the assassination of Sen. Aquino.
Today, after 26 years of incarceration, the remaining 10 convicted soldiers of the Aquino-Galman murder case are now free and reunited with their families, to have a normal life in their respective communities.
And yesterday, Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Kris Aquino have criticized President Arroyo's decision to free their father's killers. They cried foul, since the beginning of the trial there was perjury and cover-up on the case.
Three questions disturbed my mind:
1. With almost 26 years passed since Ninoy's death, can we say to his grave that "justice has been served"?
2. Was the 26 years of incarceration, sufferings and good conducts shown by the remaining 10 former soldiers inside the Bilibid Prison "enough" to heal the hearts of the grieving families and of the Filipino people, and deserve pardon and forgiveness?
3. Will you agree with Ninoy that "Filipinos are worth dying for"?
The fallen hero has long been laid to rest and he will always be remembered in our history. The convicted felons have been given a new breath of life by the Pres. Arroyo. And the mastermind behind the murder case remains a mystery (and could still be very much alive) only God knows who.
I am (the Pope) a sinner not a saint, to err is human and to forgive is divine.