Thursday| June 15, 2017
The Liberal Party's campaign rally was held to proclaim the candidacies of eight Senatorial bets as well as the candidate for the Mayoralty race in Manila. As a crowd of about 4,000 gathered to hear speeches, two hand grenades were reportedly tossed on stage. Among those killed instantly were a 5-year-old child and The Manila Times photographer Ben Roxas. Almost everyone on stage was injured, including incumbent Senator Jovito Salonga, Senator Eddie Ilarde, Senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Liberal Party president Gerardo Roxas, Sergio Osmeña, Jr., son of former President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Sergio Osmeña, Atty. Martin B. Isidro Councilor, Vice Mayor and Congressman for the City of Manila, Ambrosio "King" Lorenzo, Jr. 2nd District Councilor of Manila, and Ramon Bagatsing, the party's Mayoral Candidate for the City of Manila.
Suspicion of responsibility for the blast initially fell upon incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos, whom the Liberals blamed for the bombing; however, in later years, prominent personalities associated with the event have laid the blame on the Communist Party of the Philippines under José María Sison. Jovito Salonga, in his autobiography, states his belief that Sison and the CPP were responsible. Former New People's Army commander, retired Armed Forces of the Philippines Brig. General Victor Corpus has also made statements revealing that Sison ordered the bombing of the political rally. Corpus wrote in the autobiographical prologue to his 1989 book Silent War that he was present when some leaders of the CPP discussed the bombing after it took place. In a 2004 interview with journalist Max Soliven, Corpus affirmed that Sison (spoken of specifically, by name) dispatched the cadre who attacked the meeting with a hand-grenade.
Based on interviews of The Washington Post with former Communist Party of the Philippines Officials, it was revealed that "the (Communist) 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... (Communist Party Leader) Sison had calculated that Marcos could be provoked into cracking down on his opponents, thereby driving thousands of political activists into the underground, the former party officials said. Recruits were urgently needed, they said, to make use of a large influx of weapons and financial aid that China had already agreed to provide."
José María Sison continues to deny these claims, and the CPP has never released any official confirmation of their culpability in the incident.
Marcos, for his part, also blamed the communists. Citing a communist plot to destabilize the government, he assumed emergency powers and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus— a prelude to declaring Martial Law.
Jovito Salonga was among those most seriously injured. The blast left him blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. Small pieces of shrapnel are still lodged in his body. Councilor Ambrosio "King" Lorenzo, Jr. was in a coma for two (2) weeks. He lost his sight on his left eye and his hearing on the same side. Ramon Bagatsing, the Liberal Party mayoralty candidate for Manila, lost his left leg and suffered a crushed right cheek bone and a shattered right arm.
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