Saturday, December 01, 2007

It was Galman . . . .

“It was Galman who did it”.

Like a broken record, this line was repeated by 16 soldiers over and over again since August of 1983 when the exiled former Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. was shot at the airport tarmac.

So what is their point in saying it over and over again?

The obvious, it’s not their fault. If we are to believe the soldiers that fateful day was just bad luck for Ninoy; it was just the former senator’s time to go. One man just happened to penetrate a quarantined area full of soldiers and media. One man, with suicidal tendencies apparently, went up close a former Senator surrounded by guards and shot him with a pistol.

The later admission that one, only one, of the soldiers lead Galman in did not change the fact that the picture is so horribly wrong. One man, one shot, one kill.

‘One shot, one kill’ is something I hear that snipers would normally do, but then Galman did not carry a rifle. His ‘one shot, one kill’ was so close that he himself got killed.

How close into the ‘kill zone’ was he led in, I wonder? I find it hard to believe that he was left alone by the one soldier that led him once they got through the entrance. An airport is a high security area in any part of the globe, and the (former) Manila International Airport should be on the highest alert since the number one enemy of the state was expected to arrive. Galman had to be led in as close as possible, making his soldier ‘bodyguard’ as vulnerable as he is when the time comes.

Didn’t the rest of the security detail wonder that one of their group had led someone in?

The area where Ninoy was shot was devoid of people; well known footages of the day had guards blocking the stairs that lead to the kill area. How is it that Galman, who shouldn’t be there, in the first place, got close enough in a spot where there was no civilian around?

Maybe he was dressed as an airport mechanic or any personnel common in the area to blend in. But still, one mechanic closing in should have raised an alarm when the natural reaction of people was to avoid soldiers and VIPs. Soldiers are trained killers lets be honest and therefore it is also in their training to avoid being killed; and that entails that they have eyes not only on the front but to scan the entire 360 degrees.

To say that Galman slipped quietly into their backs unaided is just bullshit.

But shit happens right? Galman got ‘lucky’ that day because everything had by design and by neglect caused him to have a clear shot of his target after all its been known that it doesn’t take an entire conspiracy to kill. One man with the desire is enough.

In June 5th, 1968 Robert Kennedy was killed by Sirhan Sirhan in a hotel kitchen as the senator was about to leave. The killer, a young Palestinian, was later subdued but not before he was able to unleashed a volley of bullets.

November 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin as killed after attending ironically a peace rally by a fellow Jew, Yigal Amir, a law student in his 20s. Rabin died later on in surgery from the three gunshot wounds he suffered.

Like Ninoy, the two victims I have enumerated here are also guarded; they are after all powerful men in their respective countries. However, the assassins here had the advantage of a crowd which masked their approach until the last moment. Galman had no crowd to mask himself, yet compared to Sirhan and Amir, he had unleashed one perfect shot.

So is it conceivable that only one man did it helped by only one, maybe two, of a 16 man security detail?

That question has lingered in my mind since the chorus of “it was Galman” gained new life with a big help from Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Acosta. The answer that I keep coming back to a video footage that I see every year, like clockwork, on August 21.

The footage was of Ninoy who had just landed, talking to passengers and reporters; maybe checking if his toothbrush was still in his bag while he waits. Three soldiers (or policemen) came in to pick him up. They were the strangest three soldiers I have ever seen because they were just too camera shy. What they showed was not the character of soldiers I’d expect during martial law.

One wore glasses; the second was trying in vain to cover his face with his hands. The third seemed normal enough, relaxed, as he looked for Ninoy. Camera shy soldiers is not proof I know but still it’s a strange sight. Maybe they were pro-Ninoy and were ashamed to show their family who shared the same sentiment that they were there to arrest former senator.

Maybe they were afraid of the NPA. Ninoy was accused of being a communist sympathizer and these guards were wary of a backlash.

The footage keeps bothering me every time imprisoned soldiers say its Galman, it’s not their fault. Without going into politics, I believe wholeheartedly that soldiers and policemen are brave people. To go into a career which has one foot in the grave certainly needs an enormous amount of courage. It was a pure and simple arrest of an unarmed man; what can be so  embarrassing about that.

We’ve seen in recent days soldiers firing warning shots at a hotel where the lightly armed company of Senator Trillanes and Gen. Lim were holed up. Later in the night they went in with tear gas and arrested not only the principals but also a number of reporters. It was an embarrassing sight but I see no soldier hiding his face.

On that note Trillanes’ mutiny of four years ago, a.k.a Oakwood mutiny was clearly wrong and yet you see all of the Magdalo soldiers displaying their face with pride.

I tried all scenarios and only one answer seemed plausible to me. The three who were embarrassed to pick up Ninoy were camera shy, seemingly embarrassed, because they were already practicing the familiar refrain; “it was Galman who did it”.