MANILA — Filipinos today marked the third anniversary of the assassination of opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr. with his widow, President Corazon Aquino, saying the killing was the seed of this nation's freedom.
"Tyranny sowed a bullet and reaped a revolution," Aquino said at a nationally televised Roman Catholic Mass attended by 5,000 people at suburban Santo Domingo church, where her husband's body lay in state after his Aug. 21, 1983, shooting death.
Aquino then traveled by motorcade to Manila airport, where she unveiled a brass and stone marker on the spot where her husband was gunned down upon returning to his homeland from voluntary U.S. exile.
'We Will Succeed'
Three hours later, the president's eyes glistened with tears when she told about 50,000 people at downtown Rizal Park: "This day has its sadness. But when I see you by the thousands . . . the sadness goes and I believe we will succeed."
The crowd responded with chants of "Cory, Cory, Cory," the president's nickname.
Aquino's slaying and charges that the military under then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos was involved were a prelude to the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 election called by Marcos, his flight into exile Feb. 26 in the face of a civilian-military revolt, and Aquino's installation as president.
Marcos' armed forces chief, Gen. Fabian C. Ver, 24 other soldiers and a civilian accused of complicity were acquitted of the slaying in December. The Marcos government blamed the killing on an alleged Communist agent who was immediately slain by soldiers.
Aquino, speaking at the Mass, compared her husband's death to a biblical reference describing the seed that falls to bring forth a harvest: "One man sprawled on the tarmac, one seed fallen to the ground watered with blood. One man threw in his life . . . and brought us home a harvest of freedom."
At the airport ceremony, Aquino stood solemnly over the slab marking where her husband was killed. Family relatives said it was her first visit to the site since the assassination.
Christians, Muslims Present
A choir sang "Hallelujah," soldiers played taps, and Christian and Muslim priests recited prayers at the ceremony, attended by Coretta Scott King, widow of assassinated American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., government officials, foreign diplomats and others.
"Like Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ninoy (Benigno's nickname) Aquino proved that the blood of martyrs can be a powerful redemptive force," Aquino said. "They proved that the forces of repression and brutality can slay the dreamer but they cannot slay the dream."
After nightfall, a blackout struck metropolitan Manila and much of Luzon Island, and armed forces chief Gen. Fidel Ramos said he put the military and police on alert as a precaution. Officials blamed the outage on technical problems.
Rallies, fireworks mark weeklong observance. Page 6.