By MARY LOU MARIGZA
September 21, 1972. Where were you? Were you one of those hunted down? Were you one of those imprisoned? Were you a parent crying for a son or daughter who was captured by the military and put behind bars? Were you even born yet?
To those of us who have survived Martial Law, we need to retell the events and stories of those dark years in our history. As a people we have such short memories or maybe we simply want to forget bitter events because we are already suffering so much pain in our daily lives and labor. However, we need to remember and teach the young generation to treasure freedoms and not trade liberties. We need to remember the pain, the torture, the dark days, the deprivations but most of all, we need to remember so the architects of martial rule will not come back to punish us once more.
We need to remember the looong weeks of media blackout and when media organizations were finally allowed to print and broadcast, they were only allowed to broadcast the good, the true, the beautiful, never mind if the military camps were filled with young people in shackles, tortured and bruised. We need to remember the looong weeks of TV and radio playing marches and cartoons airing over and over, “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, Disiplina ang kailangan” and warbling “May bagong silang, may bago nang bayan…Bagong Lipunan” while checkpoints and curfew limited free movement. We need to remember that only the crony press was allowed to broadcast and can only broadcast what was “approved” by higher ups.
We need to remember the attempts to beautify and screen the ugly truth about martial rule. Marcos acting in behalf of his US bosses attempted to paint the Philippines on the verge of economic development and independence while the people experienced grinding poverty as well as suppression of union rights, indigenous peoples rights, human rights. We need to teach the young generation that blaming the “Islam terrorists” did not start with 9-11, martial law had Jabidah massacre. We need to tell the young people and we need to remember that the option to use clan vs clan, tribe vs tribe, family vs family was perfected by the architects of martial law under the tutelage of US state officials.
We need to remember how elections were disregarded, how presidential decrees dictated our laws, how the processes of democracy became mere trappings and how legislation and implementation became the domain of one man – the dictator. Whatever Imelda wants to retell of her version of the good and beautiful, Marcos was Hitler-Diktador-Tuta ng US to my recollection.
However flawed our elections and selection process of officials now, it is still a better option to a bogus National Assembly and bogus election under martial law. For we need to remember how the first “election” allowed under martial law was farce to the highest degree. We need to remember that Marcos had to hoist an unknown opponent just so he can say there was an election for national offices when he was pressured by US to call for elections.
We need to remember that the military was virtual overlord and that the remnants of these military minds are still in our midst. We need to remember how the military establishment became mere goons to the appointed powers not protectors of the people and the country. We need to remember how favored local kingpins became judge and executioners of their perceived enemies.
We need to remember the dark period of martial law. And we need to remember that not all were asleep during the “days of disquiet and days of rage” even at the cost of death. We need to remember the first ever strike by a labor union under martial law, the La Tondeña strike and the support it received from a wide sector. We need to remember the creation of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines by the Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines. We need to remember the creation of the Free Legal Assistance Group who helped peoples, unions, individuals with their court cases. Closer to home, we need to remember the mighty resistance to the proposed construction of four dams along the Chico River. We need to remember and celebrate the wide resistance to the twin projects to log the Cordillera forests through Cellophil and Cellulose companies. We need to remember that even inside the prison camps the shackled could not be silenced and they resisted.
We need to shout Never Again to Martial Law! We need to protect, assert, defend our rights and liberties because it took a mere piece of paper for Marcos to rule for more than two decades. We need to remember and teach the young generation to treasure freedoms and not trade liberties. We need to remember the pain, the torture, the dark days, the deprivations but most of all, we need to remember so the architects of martial rule will not come back to punish us once more. # nordis.net