On Sunday, twitter was ablaze with posts that Ninoy was not a hero.

In the Philippines, it was trending. Probably the tweets were from supporters of a disgraced family that returned to power this year through deception, distorting history to freshen the family’s image.

A generation ago, before the internet and social media, the family was chased out from power because of corruption and human rights abuses.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the family had grandiose illusions that they were members of a royal family, patterned after the Windsors of the United Kingdom.

In desperate attempts to resurrect the family’s good name, honor, and glory, they wanted to erase Ninoy’s memory from history, painting him as a villain and a supporter of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines.

Ninoy, or former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., was a prominent leader of the political opposition during the dictator’s iron-fisted rule. He was among the first to be arrested when Ferdinand Marcos imposed Martial Law almost 50 years ago in September 1972.

He was jailed and was tried by a military tribunal but was allowed to seek medical treatment in the United States in 1980. When he decided to return to the country, he was murdered at the Manila International Airport’s tarmac on August 21, 1983.

The airport was renamed in his honor.

Ninoy was recognized as a hero for standing up against the dictator, like tens of thousands of people who were jailed, tortured, murdered, and involuntary disappeared during the martial law period.

Marcos used the imminent threats from the local Communist movement to justify the imposition of martial law.

Indo-China fell into Communist hands in 1975 and there were similar threats in other Southeast Asian countries.

Marcos accused Ninoy of supporting the Maoist-led insurgency, which numbered a few hundreds at that time. Last Sunday, some social media pages “red-tagged” Ninoy as a supporter of the Communist rebels’ armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA). Some of the social media pages were linked to some units of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

There was no strong evidence Ninoy was a Communist supporter. Twenty years earlier, as a journalist, he had an interview with Luis Taruc, leader of the anti-Japanese but left-wing Hukbalahap movement. Taruc surrendered to the government of the late president Ramon Magsaysay.

In December 1968 Jose Maria Sison organized the Communist Party of the Philippines and three months later, Bernabe Buscayno, alias Ka Dante, set up its armed wing in central Luzon.

Marcos claimed Ninoy supplied guns to the rebels, some of them believed to be sugar cane plantation workers from Cory Aquino’s family’s Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

From a ragtag army, the NPAs grew into a formidable force of about 26,500 fighters in the mid-1980s before Marcos was removed from power.

The growth of the CPP-NPA-NDF from the time Marcos imposed martial law in 1972 to his ouster in a popular uprising in 1986 could not be attributed to Ninoy, who was in jail for seven to eight years.

Marcos single-handedly helped the Communist rebels expand and grow through his repressive policies, human rights abuses, and corruption that made the country a basket case in the 1980s.

If there was a person to blame for the growing threats of the Communists in the 1980s, it should be Marcos and not Ninoy who was in jail and later in exile in the United States.

Ninoy held on to his democratic principles while Marcos descended into authoritarianism, one of the reasons the twin insurgencies of Communist and Muslim separatists grew larger and threatened democracy.

Marcos should be the villain. He did not only help the insurgencies flourish under his watch, he stole billions of dollars that could have been used to deliver basic services, like education, health care and infrastructure.

He enriched himself, his family and cronies at the expense of starving Filipinos, turning the country from one of the richest economies in the 1950s and 1960s into one of the poorest states in the region.

Marcos was never a hero. He even faked his war medals and his guerrilla exploits during the Second World War. If you are to believe Marcos, his military medals could rival those of US Army Major Audie Murphy, who had 33 awards and decorations, including the Medal of Honor.

Marcos’ delusions of greatness preceded his election in 1965 when a movie “Iginuhit ng Tadhana” was made to boost his presidential candidacy. When he gained absolute power, he propagated more lies about himself and his family.

These lies continue to live until now and are amplified by the pages of social media influencers.

The Marcos family will not stop from rehabilitating the name of the late dictator. His son, Bongbong Junior, will move mountains to make him a hero and erase his dark past.

Ninoy deserves to be called a hero. He was a true freedom fighter who sacrificed his own life. His death on August 21, 1983 created a movement for the restoration of democracy, sparking an uprising to overthrow a dictator, the real villain.