What Martial Law was like

Mon, 03/27/2000 - 00:00

by Alan Robles

In 1972 Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law with Proclamation 1081. He did it, he said, to save the Republic and to create what he called a "New Society." A whole generation of Filipinos now exists which only has the faintest recollection -- if at all -- of the Marcos dictatorship. Kids, this is what you missed. Perhaps it's what you should pass on when you have kids of your own.

The lies. The biggest lie -- the mother lie -- was that Martial Law was imposed for the good of the people. It was not. It was imposed for the good of the Marcoses and their cronies, to keep them in wealth and unassailable power forever and ever amen. Marcos was a congenital liar: he lied about the state of emergency. He lied about his ill-gotten wealth ("what ill-gotten wealth?", he would ask amusedly."Tell you what, if you can find it we'll split it". Shows how reliable his word was). He lied about his war medals (almost all of them were fake), he lied about his father's wartime heroics (it turned out Marcos Sr was a collaborator executed by the guerrillas), he lied about his health. He lied about holding free elections and dismantling Martial Law. He lied and lied and lied. This was the man Joseph Estrada wanted to give a hero's burial.

The fear. Anybody could be picked up at anytime for any reason by the military or the police. You could wind up a detainee, or you could just vanish, a "salvage" victim. If you protested against the government, you were labeled a "subversive" or a "communist" or both and you were summarily arrested. People the government didn't like were tailed by security elements, their telephones tapped. A student who spoke up to Imee Marcos was murdered. No two words were more invoked and abused for the purposes of oppression than "national security." People were afraid to speak out. Marcos logic being what it was, the silence meant the people were happy.

The injustice. Only Marcos and his cronies, who plundered the economy, were protected by the law. Nobody else was. Arbitrary arrest, detention, salvaging and torture were the standard. The Defense Minister -- a man named Juan Ponce Enrile -- said in 1982: "We presume that priests and nuns charged with subversive activities are guilty until the courts decide whether they are guilty or not." On one occasion the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, someone named Enrique Fernando, servilely held an umbrella over Imelda Marcos' head.

The censorship. It was only when rebel soldiers finally seized a TV station in the EDSA uprising that people saw in their sets just how big the crowds were. Up until then the media were strictly controlled. Journalists who wrote against the regime -- most of them were women -- were routinely "invited" for questioning by the military. There was no transparency whatever. There were only three national broadsheets, the Times Journal, the Daily Express and the Bulletin Today, all of them offering the same pro-administration pap. The chief Marcos mouthpiece was a columnist named Teodoro Valencia. He died in 1986 and is now considered the "dean" of Philippine journalism. In 1983, when Ninoy Aquino was buried, at least one million people accompanied the funeral cortege as it wound its way through Manila. The next day, the Bulletin scarcely mentioned the story, instead playing up a story about a man struck and killed by lightning at the Luneta Park.(Recently, Joseph Estrada extolled the Bulletin as his idea of a good newspaper).

The poverty. Poverty increased from 24% in 1974 to 40% in 1980 and why not? Imelda Marcos was using the Philippine National Bank as her private piggy bank. One of her ideas of dealing with the poor was to put up whitewashed walls around the squatter areas in Manila. The walls are still there.

The corruption. There were suspicions about the Marcoses dipping into the public till. After EDSA, dazed investigators realized that the truth far outstripped the suspicions. The Marcoses had been screwing the public even before Martial Law. As early as 1968 Ferdinand and Imelda had already salted away more than $900,000 in Zurich accounts under the names "William Saunders" and "Jane Ryan." It was the initial deposit in what would turn out to be a mountain of loot. After having tracked down Marcos accounts and properties all over the world, investigators still aren't sure that they've found all the ill-gotten wealth.

The US support for the regime. The US loved their bases in the Philippines and put up with Marcos as long as they could. When George Bush, who was US vice-president then, visited Manila for a sham inauguration of Marcos, he proposed a toast to the dictator, saying "we love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process."

Imelda Marcos speeches. They were terrible and they dragged on interminably. Among the things she said publicly: The Philippines is the center of the world, because that's the way it looks in a map. There's a cosmic hole in the Universe which shines radiation in the Philippines which Filipinos can tap to deflect intercontinental ballistic missiles. Her audience would applaud frantically. Cowards cheering a loony.

The arrogance of those in power. It was called a "smiling dictatorship" but the only one who was smiling was the dictator. Actually, his friends and family were also happy. When his cronies got into business trouble they were bailed out with taxpayers' money. No investigations into cartels and monopolies were allowed. Marcos "lifted" Martial Law in 1981 but continued to rule by decree. Later it was discovered he had signed dozens and dozens of secret decrees which he intended to flash at the appropriate occasions. During the 1986 snap election when an opposition official said that there had been cheating an election commissioner -- his name was Jaime Opinion -- sneered at him on TV and snapped, "that's a lie!" repeatedly. After EDSA Opinion went into hiding. When EDSA was in full swing, a rebel helicopter attacked the Palace with rockets. Marcos went on air and said "my family cowers in the Palace." He didn't get any outpouring of sympathy.

 

Comments

Submitted by Crescente Villa... (not verified) on
Very succinct summary. I was 23 when martial law was imposed. I was supposed to edit a social studies periodical used in schools all over the country at Capitol Press on Sept. 21. My editor in chief called me not to proceed as he was there the night before and soldiers booted him out. In the first Batasan elections when Ninoy ran, I was chased out of a voting precinct by a club wielding Barangay Tanod in Paco because I questioned the procedures. Fortunately, a lady teacher held him in check. It was in that same precinct where I was an opposition watcher during the '86 snap elections and trucks of soldiers from the Presidential Guard Batallion showed up with their firearms to vote. I tried to object but some lady watchers, some of them from NAMFREL told me to calm down as I was about to get all of us killed.

Submitted by febra (not verified) on
yeah its really true that during that era filipinoes are suffering from fear,salvation and even put into prison without justice reason..so, until now we are suffering from great deficit..

Submitted by haydee palacio (not verified) on
During that era, corruption is really existing that all of us are being affected, many problems arises such as killings, salvation, corruption and even our rights are being violated..did our constitution or bylaws exist at the time?..how about article 3, which is the bill of rights,is no one fight for it?..why is it that the martial law exceed for that long span of time?..Could you imagine being detaine without reasonable reason?..Is he really a great person coz nobody opposed to him?..Coz as far as i concern,.our administration are still fixing for the big deficit made by him...but sad to know even if we are still suffering for that debt, the big officials still practicing corruption,for those officials who still practice for this kind of act, would you able or can you take it in your conscience to spent money without being perspired?..without spending effort?.think about it!!,..be a great politician but not a great corruptors!!..><))));>*

Submitted by teleronan (not verified) on
oh, i agree with generesas, you have typed something wrong.

Submitted by dixie chicks (not verified) on
Please let me know if you're looking for a article author for your site. You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd absolutely love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested. Cheers!

Submitted by alan on
Marcos proclaimed martial law on Sep 23 1972, but in official documents he backdated it to Sep 21 because he thought 21 and multiples of seven were his lucky numbers. He allegedly "lifted" Martial Law early in 1981, but he still retained dictatorial powers which allowed him to kill and torture and imprison anybody and steal anything he wanted. Martial Law really ended in Feb 1986 when Marcos and his family were chased out of the country by really angry Filipinos

Submitted by daniel (not verified) on
If you hate the Marcos era, you should condemn the current one. It's worse. I'm not implying that the Marcos era is better but after Marcos everything became worse.

Submitted by alan on
@daniel<br />You're right, this current government isn't exactly wonderful. But I did live through the Marcos era and I can tell you that was the worst. Force wasn't disguised at all, it was overt. If you spoke your mind, if you criticized the government,

Submitted by alan on
Balang araw siguro. Right now there are some other technical issues in the site that need addressing

Submitted by mara joy (not verified) on
wht martial law with proclamation 1081

Submitted by mhikee (not verified) on
cguro hindi tama na english ung nandito di ba? kc it is a part of our history and dpat tagalog 2 and i2 lng ahh!!<br />.....wala d2 ung hinahanap q

Submitted by alan on
Anong ibig sabihin mong &quot;hindi tama&quot;? Labag sa batas? <br />Eh, ikaw mismo nag-ingles -- ibig sabihin siguro hindi ka rin tama.

Submitted by Keith (not verified) on
In 1972 my father was in the United States Air Force stationed at Clark AFB in the Philipines, I was 7 years old. We lived off base in Angeles City. I still remember the Soldiers with guns and tanks patrolling our street. right after this we were able to get into base housing. I am an American who has lived through Martial Law once. I am afraid that we will see it right here in America if we don't wise up!

Submitted by MIYAN (not verified) on
i wanted to understand each one of these..but unfortunately,,i could'nt..wat an english naman kc ehh..tama ung iba!! tagalog na lng.. pwd ba??di naman kami AMERIKANO..napipilitan ngang mag english ehh..makasabay lng sa bagong lipunan..tsk3x...<br />&gt;nosebleed&lt;<br />^_^

Submitted by Sebede (not verified) on
Bobo ka

Submitted by alan on
I hope you understand THIS message: nobody is forcing you to read this. If your English skills are inadequate and you don't want to make an effort -- e di malas na lang, sinong talo?

Submitted by Airah (not verified) on
this message is realy couraging young students to read good books keep it up

Submitted by lheez (not verified) on
two thumbs up!

Submitted by alan on
@ david: it would be very sad if it were to happen again, to a new generation unaware of the past. It would be even sadder to the people old enough to remember -- they'll be seeing a ghastly replay

Submitted by jaxxy (not verified) on
Maybe all of you experienced fear during the Marcos era, but then again, too much freedom didn't get us anywhere either. You may say whatever you like but I feel the Marcos era was better and making people live in fear is safer for the whole since nobody dared to commit any crimes whatsoever. Sorry to say, but this country needs an iron hand to control everyone. Even if they are corrupt and greedy, at least, it's only a small group, unlike today, it's everyone for himself. <br />No progress, no unity, just unending chaos.

Submitted by alan on
@jaxxy - nothing new about your arguments, they've been used to justify every tinpot tyrant, psychopathic murderer andr cheap shyster dictator's rule. But ask yourself (btw, did you even EXPERIENCE martial law?), if after 14 years of no freedom and so-cal

Submitted by nhie (not verified) on
in my opinion marcos is not the problem perhaps filipino people too...specifically IMELDA MARCOS she influenced marcos because of the love marcos was just a puppy with her wife so thats the reason...and being a filipina and being a teenager its my rights to give my opinion with this issue and because it was also my right to study our history tnx

Submitted by alan on
@nhie - you're correct, at heart the problem lies with the people, because how else do such leaders get elected? To some extent, the political system is an expression of prevailing values. But to say Marcos was not a problem? Well I wouldn't go that far.

Submitted by patick (not verified) on
it's good that marcos declared martial law..because with out martial law...we have lots of president right now...but ..torture was bad for the marcos administration...hahahaha...

Submitted by hegemonicBastard (not verified) on
To patrick:<br />You're right. There would have been other presidents. But who knows, one of them might have done a better job and re-railled the country back on track and everything might have been a lot different today... but it's too late to talk about that now.

Submitted by chaka gurL (not verified) on
how i wish marcos is stilL alive up to now...and still the president of the republic of the philippines...hehehe

Submitted by true pinoy (not verified) on
Alan C. Robles, pardon me sir but your article is not an article. your respect sir. First , your writings on the first place is all about hatred thats why i'am not considering your article true. because it is influence by emotion not facts. it means all your writings here were all surely FALSE. why? because your hatred to the marcos is the topic of your writings. are you a Filipino? because if you are? you should now the other facts about the martial law, about Our former President marcos. research more. don't be a hater after all without FM, we don't have heart center, IRRI, and others. please don't judged on emotion but FACTS! YOU ARE NOT A GOOD WRITER!

Submitted by alan on
@true pinoy: aww you're breaking my heart with your cogent, incisive, well-defined, articulate, finely written analysis. Wait, hindi pala ikaw yon.

Submitted by spectersclique (not verified) on
@truepinoy: You can also write and article if you waNT NOt just to judge others work..well alan robles your just expressing what you want to say besides it is right to inform others about their wrong doings before!!!tnx for the info

Submitted by un2ken (not verified) on
can you please post the article the reasons of declaration of martial law..

Submitted by Ryan (not verified) on
I think the younger generation need to be reminded about how bad the Marcoses were. For those living in America, Imagine George Bush being the president for more than 20 years and still ignore that there is a problem. You should watch Ninoy Aquino's speech on Youtube under &quot;NinoyAquinoTV&quot; and hear the real truth. I myself was a Martial Law baby and lived in the Philippines during those times and never realized how bad it was because of Press Censorship. Marcos fooled everyone. He was hungry for POWER until his death trying to pass the presidency to his family. Please understand that there were family members that disappeared for no reason at all. You can be picked up by the government troops just because.

Submitted by Lorraine Badoy-... (not verified) on
mr robles, you da man. thank you for your amazing gift of clear sightedness and your gift for words as well. i will teach my children well...never let them forget the hard earned/hard learned (yet unlearned actually bec the marcoses are back) lessons of history.

Submitted by alan on
Thanks Lorraine, one of the great rewards in maintaining this site is discovering people such as you, who will keep the memory alive

Submitted by bannylyn (not verified) on
sana hindi n lang ngakaroon ng martial law para walng namatay.............<br />db???????<br />..................

Submitted by coram52 (not verified) on
write on kabayan, para mamulat ang sambayanang pilipino sa katotohanan ng martial law at ng &quot;conjugal dictatorship&quot;. mabuhay ka and more power!!!

Submitted by alan on
@coram52 - I will, thanks for the support. Marami ang dapat di makalimutan ng mga Pilipino

Submitted by kagbalete (not verified) on
marcos was no better or worse than those before him or after him, cory included. while what he did was inexcusable, we should be more objective in judging our leaders and this includes all, including one who many think is a saint........

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