Claim: Jay Sonza says Ninoy Aquino Jr. and Joma Sison were the masterminds of the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing
The Facts: Jay Sonza posted on Facebook his take on Ella Cruz’s “history is like chismis” statement in his post, he gave four examples by presenting two versions of incidents and issues that happened in the country.
Sonza made as an example the Plaza Miranda Bombing in 1971 where nine people were killed and several oppositionists and Liberal Party stalwarts were severely injured. The bombing was blamed on Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who was with the rival Nacionalista party and Sonza said that this is an unverified allegation and is “chizmiz” because of insufficient proof. He then continues to claim that Ninoy Aquino and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison were the masterminds behind the bombing.
“Batay sa mga pananaliksik at mismong pagpapatotoo ng mga sangkot, walang kinalaman si Marcos. Ang utak sa pagpasabog sa Plaza Miranda ay sina Jose Maria “Joma” Sison ng CPP-NPA-NDF at Sen. Ninoy Aquino ng Liberal Party.”
The Plaza Miranda bombing happened during a political rally of the Liberal Party on 21 August 1971 outside the Quiapo Church. Two grenades were thrown, killing nine people and injuring over a hundred, including senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party.
Ninoy Aquino Jr. was not present during the political rally and the bombing as he was allegedly at a party with Senator Doy Laurel and his family at a nearby restaurant. There is no solid evidence proving that his absence meant that he orchestrated the bombing and no witness has ever tagged him in relation to the bombing also.
Other news outlets including the Washington Post have reported similar allegations against Joma Sison. In a 1989 article, they published accounts from alleged former high-ranking CPP officials who accused Sison of orchestrating the bombing and that it was aimed to “provoke” Marcos.
“They described how the party leadership planned—and three operatives carried out—the attack in an attempt to provoke government repression and push the country to the brink of revolution.”
Sison has repeatedly brushed off the allegations. Sison said that the accusations pinning him as the mastermind of the bombing were aimed to discredit the CPP and the revolutionary movement.
“Those attacks are pure rubbish. They usually recycle false testimonies against me and conjectures from previous publications against me. They never present my side in full even if the case file is available and the submissions and counter-submissions are accessible.”
Sison also said that he and Aquino were not charged because of the lack of evidence linking them to the incident.
While many believe that Marcos orchestrated the attack to justify the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and eventually declare martial law, former Senate President Jovito Salonga does not believe that Marcos ordered the bombing. Salonga was one of those who were severely injured by the blast. In his autobiography, he wrote that he believed Sison and the CPP were behind the attack. Salonga reached this conclusion after reading the book “The Red Revolution” by Gregg Jones.
Salonga said that he has forgiven Sison. “I have forgiven him a long time ago. In fact, I was the chairman of the ad hoc Committee on Political Detainees. I allowed him to leave along with Bernabe “Ka Dante” Buscayno, cofounder of the NPA. Still, forgiving them or not does not mean that you should hide the truth. I exposed the truth that he was the one who engineered the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing.”
The Plaza Miranda bombing was one of the events that prompted Marcos to declare Martial Law in 1972. During the Martial Law era, more than 3,240 people were killed, 34,000 tortured, and 70,000 imprisoned.
Why we fact-checked this: Historians have stated that their practice is not as simple as gossip and “tsismis” because history has to be verified through solid evidence gathered through comprehensive research and peer reviews.
Unless someone can uncover unshakeable and resolute evidence linking oppositionist Benigno Aquino Jr. (or Ferdinand Marcos, for that matter) to the Plaza Miranda bombing, then all these allegations remain tsismis and not history.