The truths about martial law
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

There seems to be an ongoing campaign to revise the truths about the Marcos martial law 35 years after its declaration. There are even those who are justifying the human rights violations during that era. There is a clear need to tell the truths about the widespread abuses during the martial law regime; and, how it turned the Philippines from the second richest country in Asia – next to Japan – at the beginning of the Marcos rule into the economic “sick man” of Asia by the time Marcos was forced to step down. 

No people should forget their history so that the grievous mistakes of the past will never be repeated again. The millennial generation never truly experienced the horrors of martial law; and, it is very important for them to know the truths about martial law. The best way is to read the books and stories written by credible witnesses. 

MARTIAL LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES: MY STORY by Aquilino Pimentel Jr. 2006 published by Lorraine Pimentel Borghis and Cacho Publishing House.

Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel writes primarily about the experiences that he and his family underwent during the martial law regime. Nene posits the view that martial law was a gross criminal act that Marcos and his collaborators perpetrated upon the people. Also, he details how Marcos by means of cajolery, bribery and threats laid its [ martial law] foundations in the 1973 Constitution with the indispensable assistance of his lieutenants in the 1971 constitutional convention.

Pimentel, soon after martial law, was jailed in Camp Crame which was the first of his four arrests during martial rule. Citing pertinent documents, he describes how some detainees in the martial law detention centers were tortured and who the torturers were. Nene was the founder of the Pilipino Democratic Party (PDP) and became the founding president of the coalesced national party PDP-LABAN.

A PEN FOR DEMOCRACY by Raul S. Manglapus published by the Movement for a Free Philippines.

The book’s publication is a story by itself. This is a collection of articles, speeches, letters and interviews by former Senator Manglapus during his decade of exile during the Marcos martial law regime. The first edition of the book was published in Washington D.C. when Marcos was still in power. In 1984, the films of its pages were mailed for printing in the Philippines but were confiscated in the Sta. Mesa Post Office and held by the Postmaster General on the ground that they contained “... matters advocating or inciting treason, rebellion, insurrection or sedition against the government of the Philippines.” The second edition was printed in the Philippines after the People Power toppled the dictatorship. 

Among the many different articles and chapters in the book are Philippine Martial law: The Truth and Fiction, Dictators and Myths, Human Rights are not a Western Discovery, and Subsidized Tyranny.

THE HAPPY LIFE OF SIN by Sid T. Marinay 2002 published by Reyes Publishing, Inc. for Catholic Book Center.

This book is a biography of Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, Archbishop of Manila and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. In the Introduction to the book, Bishop Socrates Villegas wrote:

“When at the age of 44, Jaime Cardinal L. Sin was appointed the 33rd Archbishop of Manila, largest archdiocese in the Philippines, it was just two years after Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972. In that dark cloud of fear and repression, Filipino Catholics saw in the youthful and energetic Archbishop... a sign of hope. And as he had intimated in his utterance and action that he was committed to the truth, to freedom, justice and peace.

He tested the resolve of Marcos and his administration as he constantly issued pastoral statements and letters against human rights violations, illegal detentions of political prisoners, curtailment of liberties and continued graft and corruption in government.”

In Chapter Nine: Politico Prelate Showdown, the book writes about Cardinal Sin’s response to the: “...torture, killing, control of media, blatant lies, pornography espoused by Imelda, distortions of reports, rule of terror and fear, suppression of freedom of press and speech, the abuses in all forms, all the means available in the desperate attempt to cling to power, and all the national decisions done by people under the influence of intoxicating power went on for years.”

MARCOS MARTIAL LAW: NEVER AGAIN: A Brief History of Torture and Atrocity Under the New Society by Raissa Robles 2016 published by Filipinos for a Better Philippines Inc.

This is a must reading for those who want to learn the truths about the Marcos martial law regime. The author has dedicated her book: “For all the human rights victims of the Marcos dictatorship whose sacrifice we are building on today. And for the unborn generations who might be asked one day to make the same sacrifice.” 

In the foreword, Rene Saguisag writes: “Raissa’s magnum opus cites certain of the worst cases of Martial Law human rights abuses...Bongbong Marcos asks, what human rights violations during my parents’ watch? This edifying volume answers the foolish question. Learn more about terror of 1972-1986 from this magnum opus. Raissa write on. Reader, read on, this excellent deposition for history.”

THE AQUINO LEGACY: AN ENDURING NARRATIVE by Elfren Sicangco Cruz and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 2015 published by Imprint Publishing. 

The book is a collection of essays. The co-author, Neni Sta. Roman Cruz wrote in the preface: “this [book] has greater relevance today as the dark period of martial law is being dismissed and glossed over as an epoch that must now be forgotten...The millennial generation must never forget the deplorable and unlamented years of martial law. This generation must never allow these to happen again if it truly values the meaning of democracy.”

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout for Kids & Teens on September 23, October 7 and October 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

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