Martial law proclamation, 43 years ago today

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 20, 2015 - 10:00am

Today marks the forty-third year of the Proclamation 1081, declaring Martial Rule all throughout the country. President Ferdinand E Marcos who assumed the presidency in 1966, and was reelected in 1970 for another four-year term, under the 1935 Constitution, was facing an end to his tenure by 1974. He preempted that eventuality by abrogating the 1935 Constitution, and, in effect, extended his presidency indefinitely. The declared purpose of the Martial Law proclamation was '' to save the Republic" as well as "to establish a New Society."

Saving the republic was premised on his possession of intelligence information that the leftist revolution was about to erupt, and the national democratic front was about to place the whole nation under the control and domination of some alleged Maoist-Leninist junta with an alien ideology. President Marcos, aided by the military, was going to govern the nation in his capacity as the armed forces of the Philippines, which included the Philippine Army, the Philippine Constabulary, the Philippine Air Force, and the Philippine Navy. These forces were reinforced by the police forces all over the nation which were integrated into a national police.

Martial rule also resulted to the abolition of both the Senate and the House of the Representatives. Many of the opposition senators were arrested, jailed without formal charges, including Senators Jose W Diokno, Jovito Salonga, Francisco "Soc" Rodrigo, and of course, the famous Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino. Ninoy was put inside a cell in Fort Bonifacio, and then put in isolation in Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija. Many opposition leaders were also put inside the stockade, including us, the student leaders in Cebu.

Establishing a New Society entailed the closures of many TV networks and radio stations and the arrests and detentions of well-known journalists, TV commentators, and writers like Joaquin "Chino" Roces and Teddy Boy Locsin. The ABS-CBN was taken over and the many publications were closed or sequestered and confiscated by the Martial Law ruler. Any attempt to question his actions and decisions were immediately responded to with charges of treason, sedition and insurrection, and subversion.

Many courageous lawyers formed the MABINI, a group of human rights lawyers led by Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Jejomar Binay, Bobbit Sanchez and many others less known legal luminaries. They represented victims of warrantless arrests and detentions, and fought legal battles against the military and the ruling elite. They defended squatters, displaced tenants, subsistence fisher folks, and farm hands who were suspected of being members of the NPA, the CPP, and their affiliate radical organizations like the KM, the MPKP, the SDK of the student front. Where were Grace Poe and FPJ then when Binay was fighting Marcos and Gerry Roxas was being harassed by Martial Law?

It was only the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983 that marked the turning point of the Martial Law dictatorship. The Filipinos were emboldened by the coming out of Cory and the yellow revolutionists that galvanized the People Power into the ultimate toppling of the dictator. Today, my eyes are moist because I did experience myself the pains and the agonies of losing one's freedom, even only for a few weeks. It was however a tipping point in my life. From then on, I learned how to really love this country.  Today, I am renewing the vows we made inside the stockade - that we shall never again allow the trampling of that freedom. Never, never again.



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