(Updated 3:01 p.m.) The state of late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in Tarlac was laid with wreaths of flowers last Sunday, April 3.
Some Tarlac residents did this gesture a day after the statue was partly covered by a tent during a campaign rally.
A small group of individuals offered bouquets of flowers and wreaths to Aquino’s monument and to the adjacent statue of the late former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino at the Tarlac City Plazuela.
They also tied pink and yellow ribbons to the flowers.
One wreath has lace with a text that reads: “Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa.”
Photos of these were posted online by supporters of Vice Leni Robredo’s presidential bid for the elections this May.
Tarlac supporters give back the honor and respect after the disrespect showed yesterday. We take back our city! pic.twitter.com/S1TnQPyi3T
— tito (@TSalvosa) April 3, 2022
Tarlac is the home province of Aquino, whose assassination in August 1983 became one of the catalyst events that led to the historic People Power Revolution in EDSA in 1986.
The massive demonstration toppled the rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and ended the Martial Law regime that lasted for a decade.
Aquino, the late senator’s wife, succeeded him in the presidency.
The statues of Ninoy and Cory, considered to be democracy icons, were erected at the Plazuela to honor them.
Tarlac is also a known political bailiwick of the Aquino family.
The campaign event
Last Saturday, April 2, the Tarlac City Plazuela was the venue for the campaign rally of the UniTeam alliance of presidential hopeful Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and vice presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The statue of Aquino that faced the stage, however, was blocked or cordoned off by a makeshift tent for the media.
The other side, on the other hand, was covered by a big tarpaulin of Marcos Jr. and Duterte.
Reporters covering the event posted photos and videos of this incident on social media.
The main stage of the Tarlac City Plazuela for the Uniteam event fronts the monument of the late Senator Ninoy Aquino, but he has been covered by a tent so that he is not seen from the stage. pic.twitter.com/Ra8yxu4CZg
— Lian Buan (@lianbuan) April 2, 2022
Several Filipinos took to social media to denounce this move.
They described it as a “disrespectful” and “dishonorable” act.
The word “bastos” or rude in English reached the trending topics on Twitter Philippines on that day.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, also reacted to this incident.
“A nation that treats its villains like heroes and its heroes like villains has nowhere to go but down the drain. It will be treated with contempt by the community of nations that used to be inspired by the fabled nobility of its citizens now gone,” David said on Facebook.
‘Time to move on’
When asked about the “blocking” of the monument, Tarlac City Mayor Cristy Angeles told reporters that it’s time to “move on” from the past.
“Tapos na ang away ng mga kulay. Nandito tayo ngayon para magkaisa ng tunay,” Angeles was quoted as saying in a report.
“Tapos na ‘yung mga nakaraan. Time to move on. Susulong na tayo, kalimutan na ang mga nangyari noon sapagkat kailangan natin ang pagkakaisa para sa magandang kinabukasan,” she added.
Angeles also formally endorsed the UniTeam tandem during the campaign rally.
In its official statement on Monday afternoon, Tarlac City government said it “vehemently denies any intention to disrespect the memory of Aquino.”
“The supposed tent, as can be gleaned from the attached photo, was originally located at a considerable distance, spacious enough to separate the tent from the monument. However, due may be to the influx of people attending the mentioned rally, owing to the fact that the heat of the sun dictates the need for a shelter, the same tent was inadvertently moved towards the monument, which was unintentional,” the statement of Tarlac City Administrator Numer Lobo reads.
The city government maintained that the incident was “inadvertent, nothing intentional.”
“It is just unfortunate that despite the wide range of platforms discussed and delivered by the candidates present and the overwhelming reception and welcome to the UNITEAM, others just chose to spread divisiveness and highlighted this unintended and unintentional incident, which is not reflective of the whole event and contradictory to its message of hope, positivity and unity,” it added.