A personal letter from Ninoy Aquino in June 27, 1983 or two months before his final homecoming to Manila, shows how he wanted to “retire” after democracy was restored and leave the nation to “young leaders.”
The letter to Antonio Cuenco, former Cebu city congressman, is being made public for the first time today, the 29th anniversary of Aquino’s death.
Cebu Daily News is running this archive letter with the permission of Cuenco, who called him “my best friend.” – Editors)
He was among those who convinced former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. to return to the country after three years of self-exile in the United States of America.
Former Cebu City south district Rep. Antonio Cuenco was at the Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983 to welcome Aquino.
But the doors at the arrival area were closed, he recalled. Then gun bursts were heard and the news that Aquino was dead reached him he e waited for his friend at the arrival area.
“I had no doubt then. It was a military conspiracy,” said Cuenco.
“I bawled like a baby,” he added.
Cuenco said that as tribute to a dear friend, he made it a practice to deliver a privilege speech in the House of Representatives every August topay tribute to Aquino’s courage.
Although no longer a congressman, Cuenco said he wanted to honor the late senator again, this time by giving out copies to the media of their correspondence when Aquino was still in the United States, including a copy of Cuenco’s tribute speech in Congress.
On June 27, 1983, Aquino wrote Cuenco to say that “I’ve taken your advice very seriously and you convinced me that the time has come for me to return (to the country).”
“I hope your instincts are good because spending another seven years and seven months in solitary (confinement) isn’t really truly attractive a prospect,” said Aquino in a one-page typewritten letter which he signed.
Attached to Aquino’s letter was a copy of an arrival speech that Aquino never got to deliver. He asked Cuenco to have this “printed and circulated among our friends.”
“If you can have the prepared statement printed so much the better because it gives the clearer perspective to our problems. While I toned down the rhetoric – I was addressing an American audience – the substance is the same. I wanted to sound scholarly and at least objective.”
Aquino wrote that Sallvador “Doy” Laurel,then a leading opposition figure, would tell him the exact date of his arrival. For security reasons, and “to confuse the enemy”, he would give out three dates.
Aquino said he planned to call for a natinal convention among Liberal Party members when he returns.
“I need your maximum support here and in so far as I am concerned, you are still a key LP in the Visayas. Once we have called a convention and have elected a new set of officers we can proceed to consider your previous proposal of merging the LP, PDP and LABAN.”
“I’ll be doing this for you younger leaders because as I have told you, I intend to retire once democracy has been restored. Physically and financially, I am broken and I’ve had it. I merely want to leave you people a proper vehicle with which to lead our people to peace and prosperity.” /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters