The year of living dangerously
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2019 - 12:00am

President Rodrigo Duterte and his official spokesperson are either trying to scare the opposition, conditioning the minds of Filipinos regarding Martial Rule or might really be afraid of something they can’t even talk about openly. The tag-team in Malacañang has been making an effort to fill the newspapers with warnings about dire times ahead without really telling us exactly what the threat or problem is. Half of the time we are left to our imaginations or deduction if they are talking about Filipino suicide bombers, the NPA or destabilizers of the Duterte administration. Because of this, we’re beginning to suspect that the President and the Presidential talking head might be employing psyche war on critics and the media, or are actually establishing the environment and mindset in order to declare Martial Law and prolong their stay in power. If there is a real threat, I just wish that the President would lay it down so we could all line up behind him.

They might react and say that my opinion on the matter is preposterous, but I myself have enough personal experience on how previous tenants and “terrorists” in Malacañang actually created an environment of destabilization, declared the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, faked an ambush of a cabinet member and then declared Martial Law in order to save the republic from the communists. If the memory is not enough reason to be suspicious, it does not help when the President publicly expresses his admiration of President Ferdinand Marcos, the author and dictator during Martial Law in the Philippines. 

The sad part is that people truly have short memories. I don’t. Martial Law was not properly submitted through Congress as required by law. Instead, Martial Law shut down Congress and sent Senators and Congressmen and members of media to the different stockades in Crame, Aguinaldo and Fort Bonifacio. Military forces worked under cover of darkness to grab people whose names were on one list or another. There was an FM list, and Imelda list, a JPE list, a Ver list, a list from agencies of the military, the PC-INP and a bunch of other lists that came from cronies or relatives of the people in power. It was only when I got into TV that JPE or Juan Ponce Enrile casually admitted that he had ordered the arrest and detention of my father for being “makulit”. Enrile obviously did not realize that his personal resentment of my father’s journalistic work resulted in my father being detained for several months, jobless for four years, forced us to sell property, cars, personal belongings and furniture and ruined family relations! By God’s grace, we the victims have had the dignity to be civil and respectful of those who have caused us serious harm and deprivation.

I still remember how many people woke up to find out they had no TV, no radio, no telephone! Because Martial Law was secretly set into motion Sept. 19 and officially declared Sept. 21, people were unable to get money from the banks the following week. Lucky for you if you had cash on hand and a sari-sari store willing to sell you basic necessities in the face of all that uncertainty. The families that somehow managed were those whose parents had gone through World War II and developed a hoarder mentality, keeping canned goods, dried fish and several sacks of rice all the time. As a result of that experience many survivors of Martial Law have habitually kept some cash squirreled away, one sack of rice at all times and enough canned goods to last a month.

Yes, Martial Law was reminiscent of the Japanese occupation when a collaborator could just pick you out of the crowd and have you thrown in jail. The MetroCom or the military type police unit could grab any longhaired individual at random and force them to have a free crew cut. There were reported incidents of women being mistaken for, and almost ending up with a 3 x 4 haircut! During Martial Law, cronies and kamag-anaks or relatives replaced the collaborators. Sadly even after a “revolutionary government” replaced Martial Law, during Cory’s time certain misfits also raided homes of Marcos cronies to confiscate paintings, luxury vehicles and private aircraft for their personal benefit. All because they could. This is the ugly truth about people having absolute power; even their minions start behaving like they were the ones in charge.

So whether they talk about Martial Law or revolutionary government, the President and the presidential talking head are inflicting upon all of us, fear and anxiety that will eventually grow into a wave of distrust among Filipinos and a lack of confidence from the foreign community. It’s hard to figure out why a very popular President would sabotage his popularity by instilling fear and uncertainty among his people. By the way, I recently learned from an “expat” that their company actually has guidelines on what to do and where to go based on several scenarios. Among those scenarios is what to do if Martial law is declared, what to do if there is a coup d’état, or if the President is violently replaced or assassinated. All this brings back bad memories that I would not wish on anybody. I sincerely pray and yes we pray every evening for the health of the President and that he would not be misled by lying spirits and wicked men. If you read this, please join us in prayer for the President and for the country!

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