EDITORIAL - What he died for
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2014 - 12:00am

Why did Ferdinand Marcos declare martial law? Because the end of his second four-year term was approaching and the Constitution barred him from seeking a third term.

Martial law ensured not only that Marcos would finish the final year of his second term with absolute powers to deal with communist and Islamic separatist insurgencies raging at the time, but also that he could perpetuate himself in power indefinitely. Among the earliest products of martial law: Charter change, which allowed Marcos to stay in power after his two terms were up.

And why did Marcos’ archrival, Benigno Aquino Jr., come home from exile? Only Ninoy Aquino’s family will know the whole story. But one of the reasons has to be a desire to end the indefinite rule of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

Rumors swirled at the time that Ferdinand Marcos was critically ill, requiring regular kidney dialysis for lupus, and that the other half of the so-called conjugal dictatorship wanted to make sure she would inherit the presidency in case the worst happened to her husband. Imelda Marcos personally warned Ninoy Aquino against coming home from exile, citing supposed threats to his life. Ninoy ignored the warning. The rest, as we say, is history, with the nation marking the 31st anniversary of his assassination today.

Ninoy’s widow Corazon worked to preserve his legacy of freedom when she took over from Marcos in 1986. Among the results was the so-called Freedom Constitution, which imposed a six-year, single term limit on the president, to deter the creation of another Marcos. Upon her retirement, Cory Aquino continued to oppose any attempt to change the Charter and allow the president to seek a second term.

In a speech at a rally on Sept. 21, 1997, Cory Aquino said Charter change was among the reasons Marcos declared martial law, “so he could stay in power beyond the legal term.”

“That is why we are here – to tell the people who want to stay in power, by martial law or Charter change: no way and never again,” Cory Aquino said. “The honor of the presidency is so great, no one needs to have it more than once.”

Those are words that resonate today, as the nation honors the memory of Ninoy Aquino.

AQUINO BENIGNO AQUINO JR. CORY AQUINO FERDINAND AND IMELDA MARCOS FERDINAND MARCOS FREEDOM CONSTITUTION IMELDA MARCOS MARCOS NINOY NINOY AQUINO
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