“There will be no end to the injustice unless there are people willing to make a stand, against the forces that perpetuate it. The suffering of Filipinos did not end with the martial law era. In a country where corruption is institutionalized and abuse is rampant, the victims are not the privileged middle to upper-class.”
Blog Post: The 48th Anniversary of Martial Law
By: Gabby Tamayo and Betina Aragon
Cover art by Raquel Uy
(TW: abuse, torture, sexual assault, murder)
September of this year marks the 48th anniversary of the declaration of martial law or Proclamation 1081, by the late President Ferdinand Marcos. It was a long period of dictatorship, suffering, and darkness for the Filipino people. Many lives were unjustly taken, human rights were abused, and our country was plunged into unreasonable debt and corruption. We remember all that we have lost, both the people and the freedom. Although it was a perilous and uncertain time for the Philippines, we also remember the incredible strength of those who fought and protested against the Marcos regime. Their courage redefined Filipino nationalism and what it means to love and honor our country.
Known for being the darkest chapter of our Philippine history, martial law is an era that continues to be gruesomely known for the immense number of human rights violations. The Marcos administration made use of their utmost power to control and silence the people through violent means of physical and psychological abuse. When the people wished to fight back and retaliate by participating in mass protests, what happened next was that it left the people oppressed and helpless. With over 11,103 human rights violations, Filipinos were subjected to unimaginable ways of torture such as being massacred, arrested, harrased, phsysically assaulted, etc. The various forms of human rights violations not only caused physical pain towards the victims but more importantly degraded the dignity and right each of the victims possessed. Although the historic event may have occurred 48 years ago, the amount of blood that was shed and the trauma ingrained in the minds of many will never make the Filipinos forget what the Marcos administration has wrongfully done for our country and its people. On September 28 1972, Marcos also issued the Letter of Instruction 1, which authorized the military to control assets belonging to major media outlets including ABS-CBN and Channel 5. This led to the arrest and detention of many well known Filipino journalists such as Amando Doronilla and Luis Beltran. Investigations in military camps were also conducted against media personalities who were well-known to be critical of Marcos. Many voices were silenced, and Filipino journalists endured countless attacks against their character. Another misconception about the Marcos era was that it was a “golden age” for the Philippines. Although infrastructure construction was increasing during that time, it came at the expense of our country’s finances. The country already had a debt of $8.2 billion in 1977 which reached a staggering amount of $24.4 billion in 1982, only a 5-year time frame. According to various historical accounts, the Marcos clan had also plundered the country, amounting to somewhere between 5 and 10 billion dollars. They institutionalized corruption, and have yet to pay back fully all that has been taken.
There will be no end to the injustice unless there are people willing to make a stand, against the forces that perpetuate it. The suffering of Filipinos did not end with the martial law era. In a country where corruption is institutionalized and abuse is rampant, the victims are not the privileged middle to upper-class. It is those in the urban poor areas of Metro Manila all the way to the farmers, fishermen, and other minimum wage workers in the remote provinces. It is the homeless who are neglected on the side roads of Edsa. It is the indigenous people and abandoned children who have no access to education and adequate health resources. It is the responsibility of Filipino youth today, to fight for the rights of those mentioned above. One way of doing so is voting in the 2022 presidential elections. We encourage everyone to let their voices be heard, and to be involved in the change towards a more progressive and inclusive Philippine society. As Dr. Jose Rizal put it, “ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.” Never shall we forget the tragedies of the martial law era, but we shall also believe that there is hope and power within the generation of Filipinos today.