Activists vow to fight Marcos' martial law disinformation 50 years on

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2022 10:25 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2022 10:42 PM

ABS-CBN News
Martial law survivor Bonifacio Ilagan lit candles for victims of the martial law imposed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., on September 21, 2022, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Filipino activists vowed Wednesday to fight disinformation about Martial Law that the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. imposed 50 years ago, and continue shining a light on the human rights abuses and atrocities committed during the period.

Progressive groups held a cultural protest at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, and honored the victims of the military rule.

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A cultural protest was held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on Sept. 21, 2022, marking the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

A cultural protest was held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on Sept. 21, 2022, marking the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

A cultural protest was held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on Sept. 21, 2022, marking the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

While there may be different sides about martial law, historian Xiao Chua said there are “essential” truths to take note from historical accounts.

"Pwedeng iba-iba ang pananaw natin sa nangyari. Pero mayroon pong hindi maikakaila. May mga essential truths, kahit po iba’t iba ang ating pananaw," he said. 

Chua said it is a must to always side with the victims of abuses, saying their historical accounts help remind the public not to commit the same mistakes. 

"Alangang pumanig ako sa mga nang-aapi. Talagang papanig ako roon sa mga biktima. Ang radikal po sa kanila ay ang pakikipagtao nila, kaya inalay nila ‘yung buhay nila para sa pakikibaka," he said.

"Ang pagbabaluktot sa kasaysayan ay pagwasak sa bayan, sapagkat ang gawain ng pagkukuwento ng kasaysayan ay gawain ng pakikipagkapwa-tao. Ito po ay gawain para umunlad ang bayan natin dahil natututo tayo sa’ting pagkakamali."

In a video message, Former Sen. Kiko Pangilinan reminded the public to not give up on people who are not yet enlightened about martial law.

"Noong ako’y nagsimula nang kumilos at manindigan, wala sa aming hanay ang nagsasabing bakit ngayon lang. Hindi nila ako hinusgahan. They welcomed us because kinikilala nung mga nagma-martsa sa kalye na mayroong mas maliwanag at mas mahalagang layunin ‘yung pagkakaisa ng lahat laban sa diktador," he said. 

"Ganoon din ngayon. Maraming unti-unting namumulat sa kasinungalingang nangyayari, sa disinformation, sa pambabastos. At unti-unti silang nagtatanong bakit ganito. Kinakailangan natin silang hikayatin."

Some groups say misinformation and disinformation about his father's administration helped incumbent President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. succeed in his election campaign last May.

Supporters of the Marcoses claim the late dictator's regime was the Philippines' golden era.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said their group will continue to fight martial rule.

"Martial law mentality pa rin ang umiiral para linlangin, takutin, at patahimikin ang mamamayan. Para sa amin po, opinyon po namin, ang mga rebolusyonaryo na lumaban sa diktadura ay mga bayani, hindi terorista," Reyes said. 

"Kung may natutunan tayo sa martial law at pasistang panunupil, ito ay hangga’t may pang-aapi at pagsasamantala sa lipunan, hindi mawawala ang mga lumalaban. At kahit ilang martial law pa ang ipataw, kahit ilang libo pa ang patayin, kahit ilan pa ang ikulong, kaya huwag patinag," he added. 

"Nasa tamang panig tayo ng kasaysayan. Tuloy ang laban para sa bayan sa harap ng mga kasinungalingan at ng panggigipit. Isigaw natin nang walang kamatayan, 'Makibaka, huwag matakot!'" 

Under General Order No. 2-A he signed on Sept. 26, 1972 or five days after signing Proclamation No. 1081, Marcos Sr. authorized the military to arrest personalities believed to be part of a "conspiracy" to seize power.

According to the Official Gazette, Marcos Sr. wrote in his diary on May 8. 1972 about Instructing the military to update its plans, including the list of personalities to be arrested.

By the time Marcos addressed the nation on Sept. 23, 1972 about his decision to declare martial law, several personalities, Including opposition senators Benigno Aquino Jr, Jose Diokno, Francisco Rodrigo, and Ramon Mitra Jr. had already been arrested and sent to jail.

Around 100 out of the 400 personalities on the arrest list were already detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City by 4 a.m. of Sept. 23, the Official Gazette said.

Approximately 8,000 individuals, which included 1971 Constitutional Convention delegates, journalists, students, labor leaders, and even a few members of the country's elite families, were also arrested on the same day.

Marcos Sr. lifted Martial Law in January 1981, although the dictatorship continued until his ouster on Feb. 25, 1986 through the military-backed People Power revolution.

According to reports from global human rights watchdog Amnesty International, there were 100,000 victims of martial law, with 3,000 killed, 34,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested.

The Marcoses also amassed an estimated $5-10 billion, or some P500 billion, in ill-gotten wealth, based on the World Bank-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Stolen Asset Recovery report.

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