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Ninoy’s Testament

“Testament From a Pri-son Cell” is a collection of writings by Ninoy Aquino when he was in jail in Fort Bonifacio during the Marcos dictatorship. Today, on the 45th anniversary of that day of infamy, here are some excerpts from that book.

On protest

The cry of protest of a newborn child is the first sign of life. So are the fearless protests of citizens a testimony to the vibrant health of a democracy. Protest is part of the democratic evolution of man. And democracy is enlarged and strengthened, rather than eroded and weakened, by conflict and dissent... To a citizen of democracy, to protest is not only a right, it is a duty and it imposes an obligation on the government to listen, to consider and be guided by what the community says.

Indeed, as Mr. Marcos’ own decrees testify, he has taken away from our people their right to free speech, free press, free assembly, free labor, free vote, free government – and of course, their freedom from illegal entry into their homes, illegal seizure of their belongings, and illegal arrest of their persons. By my nonparticipation, at the cost of my physical freedom and jeopardy of my beloved wife and children, I hope to arouse the conscience of our people who ultimately can put an end to this nightmare of a dictatorship. They are our country’s real and true sovereign.

I have reached my decision in the faith that ‘right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.’  “I believe that to live but a single day in defense of liberty is better than living a hundred years in fear or in service to tyranny.”

On Mr. Marcos and martial rule 

Mr. Marcos will be judged by the nation he has betrayed and deceived –  not only by this generation, but by all generations of Filipinos yet to be born, whenever, this dark page in our history is recalled in disgust, in shame and in horror. Very soon I will be condemned to obscurity and oblivion. Even now there are massive efforts to rewrite our history and to suppress the truth. But as long as there is breath left in me I shall not be silenced... please carefully consider these thoughts:

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• To “save” democracy,” Mr. Marcos killed it. Like all other dictators, he invoked the people as rationale for his act. ..It was done indeed. “By a Single act’ coupled with the threat by musketry for those who dared oppose him, he raped liberty in liberty’s name, killed freedom allegedly for freedom’s safety, and interred democracy in a squalid grave to, in his words ‘save democracy.’

Mr. Marcos claims to have established a New Society. What we really have is the oldest society known to man, one that dates back to the divine right of kings when one man ruled and his will was Law, his person the State.

Mr. Marcos promised the Filipinos a society in ‘greater freedom.’ But today, five years after he imposed martial law and launched his New Society, what we have is a society in fear. Fear, he said is an instrument of his martial rule.

Mr. Marcos blamed the oligarchs for most of the ills of the Old Society. Only one member of that oligarchy has been jailed and his family’s properties have been appropriated by Mr. Marcos, his family and his cronies. Worse, the so-called New Society has not only coddled the oligarchs of the Old Society, it has spawned new ones – instant millionaires – who are plundering government financial institutions to finance their corporate raiding and various takeover schemes. These new oligarchs are being awarded timber, mining and oil concessions and vast tracts of rich government agriculture and urban lands, not to mention lush government construction contracts.

Mr. Marcos claims his martial rule is unique because it is compassionate and benevolent. Early this year [1977] Amnesty International released its shocking report on the torture of Filipino political detainees. This report...denounced the use of ‘Star Chamber methods on a wide scale to literally torture evidence into existence.’ The report listed the names not only of the victims but also those of the torturers. 

Mr. Marcos constantly brags about the dramatic improvement of the nation’s economy. But he never mentions the massive external debt that his regime has incurred. Eleven years ago when he first assumed the presidency, the Philippine external debt amounted to $500 million...Today the external debt has passed the $6.4 Billion mark and it is still increasing. Among the five ASEAN countries, the Philippines has the highest interest rates. Corruption, tagged as one of the major reasons for martial rule, has become more rampant in Mr. Marcos’ New Society. Today greed runs amuck, unchecked by an inquisitive Congress and a vigilant press. The total corruption of this debt-ridden but extravagant martial law regime is equalled only by its lack of regard for basic human rights. ...Fortune magazine, after a survey of businessmen operating in Southeast Asian region, reported that the Philippines has the second most corrupt government in Southeast Asia – second only to Indonesia.

Ninoy’s Struggles

“ My struggle is against a system of justice that enables one man to judge the truth of his own accusations...My struggle is against a system that enables the dictator to own, control and manipulate... the mass media so he can distort the truth, mislead the people by making vice as virtue and weaken their resolve to be free. My struggle is against a system that pretends to save democracy while actually destroying it.”

 Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout for Kids & Teens on Sept. 23, Oct. 7 and Oct. 21 (1:30-3pm/independent sessions). All sessions are at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.  For registration and fee details text 0917-6240196 or email writethingsph@gmail.com.

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

 

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