A soldier convicted for the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino stands by his confession that Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco ordered the killing of the opposition leader upon his return from exile in 1983.

Cojuangco, chairman of San Miguel Corporation, was a crony of President Marcos. He is the cousin of former President Corazon Aquino but has been at odds with her politically.

Master Sergeant Pablo Martinez reiterated his confession in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Julius Babao after his release from jail. President Arroyo granted Martinez, a former aviation security officer, pardon on humanitarian grounds. He has turned 70 and has served 24 years in prison. (Read the interview transcript. )

When asked by TV reporter Babao who the mastermind of the Aquino assassination was, Martinez replied, “Danding Cojuangco.” Speaking in Pilipino, Martinez said that he met some persons two days before the assassination in August 1983 who claimed they were “bata (associates)” of Cojuangco. Martinez said that he was billeted in a “hotel” and that was where he met the Cojuangco boys.

“I didn’t hear any direct order from him (Cojuangco). But I asked them (the men in the hotel) who was giving them the order and they replied, Danding,” Martinez told Babao. ABS-CBN provided Newsbreak the transcript of the interview.

In 1994, it was reported that Martinez became a born-again Christian and confessed to his fellow prisoners that he “didn’t want to lie anymore.” In a Time magazine story (Feb. 2006), Martinez said that Rolando Galman, the alleged assassin who was killed, told him that the plot was ordered by Cojuangco.

Martinez submitted this confession in a deposition to the Supreme Court through Persida Rueda-Acosta, the country’s public defender. But Rueda-Acosta said in a radio interview with DZMM this morning that she is not after the mastermind because, as public defender, her work is to look after the condition of the soldiers still languishing in jail.

The Supreme Court ruled in July last year that Martinez’s confession didn’t qualify as “newly found evidence” and declined to reopen the case.

Twenty four years after the Aquino assassination, the murder remains unsolved. –Marites Danguilan Vitug

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