At 10:25 in the evening of 25 November 1977, Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino was pronounced guilty of subversion, murder & illegal possession of firearms by Military Commission No. 2, which was headed by Brig. Gen. Jose Syjuco, during the Martial Law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Ninoy was sentenced to death by firing squad.
On December 2, Attorneys Raul M. Gonzalez & Sedfrey A. Ordonez, representing Ninoy’s mother, Aurora Aquino, filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Habeas Corpus for the release of Ninoy from military custody & unlawful restraint. On this basis, the Supreme Court issued a restraining order against his execution.
The petition emphasized that Ninoy was denied equal protection of the laws & that the trial & conviction under Military Commission No. 2 were void for the following reasons.
1. The judgment of conviction was rushed in an immoral way. (Imagine concluding a criminal trial at night and at such a late hour.) The military counsel assigned to Ninoy failed in providing him effective legal assistance & he was denied the chance to give a closing argument.
2. Jurisdiction over his cases properly belonged to a civilian court, & the Military Commission discriminated against him by denying his motion for the transfer of his cases to the proper civilian court, even though more than 3,000 cases under military tribunals already had been transferred.
3. Ninoy was prosecuted for illegal possession of firearms & other crimes on the basis of presidential orders that were issued only after his arrest. Thus the “legal” basis was laid down after the occurrence of the alleged “illegal” acts.
4. “Leaders & followers [of the Moro National Liberation Front] who have risen in arms against the government & who have killed a big number of government troops in open combat have been pampered, benefited & rewarded while Benigno Aquino Jr is singled out for indictment & public humiliation.”
The petition is reproduced as Appendix C in the book, “Testament from a Prison Cell,” by Benigno Aquino Jr. The second edition of the book was published in 2000 in Makati City by the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Foundation. My copy at hand contains a handwritten dedication to “dear Pat & Raul (Gonzalez)” by Cory Aquino dated 09 October 2003.