In The Age Of Duterte, Millennials Need To Remember Philippine Martial Law

U.S. Army — Public Domain
U.S. Army — Public Domain

“Who controls the past, controls the future.
Who controls the present, controls the past”
— George Orwell

Millennials like us have been accused of being ignorant, apathetic, indifferent and insensitive on issues surrounding the nation’s Martial Law period as our generation seems to fail to see the dark side of the Marcos regime.

Textbooks we were made to read in school have made mention about Martial Law, but were the stories and lessons cascaded to us by our teachers enough to make us understand that period in our nation’s history? Do we even know what is Martial Law and why and how Marcos used this to perpetuate his regime?

A number of millennials question why the elder generation are making a big fuss over the sneaky burial of the late president in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Why don’t they just move on? Marcos is long dead. Let him rest.

The skeptic in me did not fall right away to the knee-jerk reaction that flooded my Facebook feed. I’m lucky to have elders who gave me first hand insights about Marcos, Martial Law and the Libingan issues.

My grand aunt was a young lawyer working at the secretariat of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. She had the privilege to have worked closely with the people who drafted the 1973 Constitution.

She said contrary to what the pro-Marcos camp claims, it is not true that Marcos declared Martial Law because the country was in complete anarchy. She said there were public disturbances – anti-government rallies, killings and bombings – but the situation was not that critical to justify Martial Law. She told me that Marcos declared Martial Law because he wanted to extend his rule.

Under the 1935 Constitution, a president can only stay in power for two terms and is not allowed to seek a third term. Marcos won the presidential elections in 1965 and was reelected in 1969. His term was about to end in 1972 and opposition leader Ninoy Aquino was becoming very popular.

Marcos declared Martial Law because of greed for power. He called for a Constitutional Convention to change the form of government and lift the term limits that barred Marcos from continuing with his rule.

Human rights were violated during Martial Law. Thousands were jailed; many of them were tortured and worst killed. The public did not know about the human rights violations because newspapers and television stations were closed down. Only pro-Marcos media were allowed to operate.

According to my father, who grew up during the Martial Law era, people were silenced during those years. Unlike now, where people can freely say what they want to say, people during the Martial Law period could not criticize Marcos. Those who make remarks against the government were arrested and put to jail or worse, got killed.

Imagine if Duterte declared Martial Law, there will be no Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks because media will be silenced.

Another right that was violated was the right to property. During Martial Law, there was a “crony capitalism.” This just means that, all the biggest industrial projects and companies were given to FM’s closest allies.

“The rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer,” as they say.

So for the millennials who say that Marcos doesn’t have liability for the EJK back then, yes he had. Marcos was a wise and brilliant president before greed took over.

He used his bright mind for the sake of his own greed and not for the greater good of the Philippines.

Marcos was responsible for the happenings during ML and that truth cannot be covered up. So why is his burial a big thing? Because he was not a president, he was a dictator. He was a soldier, but not all soldiers are heroes.

History can be forgiven, but it cannot be forgotten, we millennials must not be ignorant about our history for we had this freedom because many lives fought for it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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