Doy and Ninoy Aquino were like brothers. Their friendship which began during World War II when Doy’s father was President of the Republic and Ninoy’s father, Benigno Aquino, Sr. was Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In Nick Joaquin’s book, “The Aquinos of Tarlac” he quotes Ninoy as having said, “In 1947 when my father died I thought my world had ended. Except for Doy Laurel I don’t recall having any friends then.”
Both ran for the Senate In 1967. Doy under the Nacionalista banner and Ninoy under the Liberal party. They had unwritten agreement that each would support the other in their own bailiwicks. Both emerged victorious.
During the martial law years when Ninoy was imprisoned he would often send messages to Doy through his wife, Cory. When Ninoy was arraigned before the military tribunal, Doy was there to give moral support to his young friend. On February, 1979, Doy wrote a letter to President Marcos asking him to release Ninoy to help unify the people.
When Ninoy planned to return to the Philippines he asked Doy to organize his arrival at the airport. Ninoy wanted an impressive crowd at the airport to prevent any attempts on his life. Ninoy said he would bring with him a group of Foreign press to record his homecoming. Doy spent weeks feverishly contacting his UNIDO leaders in Southern Tagalog as well as his fraternity brothers (Ninoy was also an Upsilonian), to help him.
He wrote Defense Secretaary Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos informing them of Ninoy’s arrival and requesting their assurance for his safety. He made arrangements with airport manager Louie Tabuena to allow him to meet Ninoy in the arrival tube.
On the morning of August 21, 1983 Doy led the welcome party which included Doña Aurora Aquino, Ninoy’s mother, Senators Soc Rodrigo, Lorenzo Tañada, Eva Estrada Kalaw and others. The airport was surrounded by a huge throng of welcomers. Ninoy had asked Doy to assemble 10,000 people at the airport but the turnout was about 28,000. As the plane was about to touchdown Doy headed for the tube to meet Ninoy but all the doors leading to it were locked. He banged and kicked the doors but could not go through. He called the guards through the glass windows but they were motionless and unresponsive. He went back to VIP room where Doña Aurora was waiting with Senators and Rodrigo. Suddenly, Ken Kashiwahara, Ninoy’s brother-in-law who was with him on the plane dashed in looking ashen as he announced that Ninoy was shot.
A tidal wave of public indignation swept the nation. And the ranks of the opposition to President Marcos swelled beyond expectation.