Martial Law: Never forget, never again!
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - September 22, 2016 - 12:00am

There is a marker about Martial Law near the City Hall in Manila. As many are unable to visit that site, allow us to share what the marker reminds us all why we should never forget and why we should never again allow Martial Law ever again in our country.

"On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law all over the Philippines by virtue of Proclamation 1081. His basis for issuing the order: rising lawlessness and violence by leftist elements made it necessary so he can "save the Republic" and build a new society. By abolishing Congress and assuming legislative powers, President Marcos was able to rule by decree, in the next 14 years, in a government that he described as a form of "constitutional authoritarianism."

"Under Martial Law, Marcos curtailed press freedom, limited civil liberties and ordered the arrest of militants and his political opponents. Those who were suspected of subversion were arrested and detained; many were tortured, thousands were picked up in the dead of night and never heard from again, becoming "desaparecidos" (the disappeared)."

"President Marcos lifted Martial Law on January 17, 1981, shortly before the visit by Pope John Paul II. However, he still retained most of his powers as a dictator until February 25, 1986, when he was deposed in a bloodless civilian-military uprising now known as People Power Revolution."

"The anniversary of Martial Law has been marked, since the year after its imposition, first by the dictator as the day that saved the Republic; but later, fittingly, by the people who paid for its folly with their lives, liberties, and shattered dreams. Each year on September 21, those who survived torture and detention and all manner of oppression remember Martial Law. Many of them were in their youth — the most obvious victims of Proclamation 1081. The nation will always bear the scars that marked an entire generation of citizens — young men and women who would have been political, social and economic leaders; or journalists and professionals; workers in the farms and cities; members of the clergy."

"This marker is being erected to remind the nation always of the searing memory of one act, one document, that transformed it in a crucible of fire and pain. The marker is especially dedicated to young martyrs, among them hundreds of Manileños, who resisted Martial Law."

"It honors as well those who lived to see its end, after fighting it. It is erected in the hope of inspiring people, especially the youth, to lead worthy lives, pursuing always the public good over self-interest, emboldened in their quest by the example of those who championed truth, liberty and justice in one of the Republic's darkest hours."

A 2012 Martial Law memorial marker can also be found at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City. The following words are inscribed as a reminder to all not to forget Martial Law, to never allow Martial Law again in this country.

"This marker is a testament to the courage of Cebuano martyrs whose lives were sacrificed in the fight against Martial Law. That those who live will always remember to guard the freedom they fought so hard to reclaim."

Throughout Martial Law, our people turned to God to end the dictatorship. Those who participated in the EDSA Revolution were emboldened to face tanks and real threat to life because they were united in prayers and they all felt the presence of God and Mama Mary during those trying moments. They also wanted freedom, truth, and justice restored especially for their children and the future generations of Filipinos.

Last September 20, Catholic bishops launched a nationwide campaign that will run for 81 days until December 23. The prayer campaign is asking all Filipinos to pray for peace and healing, to join in the global initiative — "A Million Roses for the World."

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas reminded all about the power of prayer to bring about social transformation. "Wounded and torn by socio-cultural and political issues," Villegas exhorts all that, "we cannot remain this way. We must reverse the tide of hate and confusion and fill the air again with words of peace, truth, and love. Let us then resist the culture of terror and fear with the balm of prayer and mercy. Let us pray for the whole nation. Let us pray as a united nation."

The prayer campaign is also in solidarity with the World Day of Prayer for Peace proclaimed by Pope Francis. The prayer campaign encourages the faithful to pray the rosary daily, with special daily prayers offered for each of the province of this country.

Let us continue to pray daily as a nation for God's love, God's truth, and God's justice to reign over human-created fear, lies, and injustice. Let us pray together as one people always remembering not to allow any dictatorship ever in our land.

Never again to Martial Law!

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