Posted by: filamgroup1 | November 30, 2009

Plaza Miranda Bombing

On the night of August 21, 1971, at around 9:15 P.M., the candidates of the Liberal Party had formed a line on the stage with their arms raised and the crowd applauding. The band was playing, and there were fireworks. Then there were two loud explosions. Two hand grenades were thrown on the stage of the political rally of the Liberal Party at Plaza Miranda in the district of Quiapo, Manila. The Liberal Party’s campaign rally was held to introduce the eight Senatorial candidates and the candidate for the Mayoralty race in Manila. There was a crowd of about 4,000 people to hear the speeches of these candidates. This night of campaigning turned into a night of tragedy when the two hand grenades were thrown on the stage. Nine people were killed, and 98 others were injured. A 5 year old child and the Manila Times photographer Ben Roxas were among those killed instantly. Almost everyone on stage was injured including Senator Jovito Salonga, Liberal Party president Gerardo Roxas, and Sergio Osmena, Jr., son of former President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Sergio Osmena. Senator Salonga became blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. Small pieces of shrapnel are still lodged in his body. Ramon Bagatsing, the Liberal Party mayoralty candidate for Manila, lost his leg. Mel Lopez, survivor of the bombing and a Manila councilor at the time, said, “I saw the grenade hit a wire and land in front of the stage. Then the joyful shouts of the crowd welcoming the fireworks turned into heart-rending shrieks and cries of the wounded, mostly from children who huddled close to the stage. The crowd stampeded and chairs and placards started flying all over. The second grenade came at an interval of perhaps 1.5 to two seconds and likewise exploded.” Suspicion of responsibility for the bombing initially fell upon President Ferdinand Marcos and his political party, the Nacionalistas. The Liberal Party blamed President Marcos for the bombing. Marcos allies suggested that Benigno Aquino, who was not at the rally, might be responsible for the bombing to eliminate his potential rivals within the party. In later years, the Marcos government presented evidence that Jose Ma. Sison and the New People’s Army were responsible for the bombing. The police captured one of the bombers who was identified as a sergeant of the firearms and explosive section of the Philippine Constabulary, a military arm of the government. According to Aquino, this man was taken from police custody by military personnel, and the public never heard from him again. This bombing reportedly might have triggered the declaration of Martial Law which was declared on September 21, 1972. According to Angie Chui from the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing is a “reminder to fight for freedom.” It is a reminder to fight for democracy. To this day, the country remembers the bombing every August 21st along with the assassination of Benigno Aquino. -CG


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