When President Marcos placed the entire country under Martial Law on 21 September 1972, I was only 5-year then. My Manobo father was a member of the “dreaded” CHDF (Community Home Defence Forces) in our small barangay Lacaron, a very remote area belonging to the mountains of Malita municipality, Davao Occidental. He was issued a Garand Rifle which he spent most of his morning time cleaning with my help. His rifle was issued by the government, particularly the Philippine Constabulary for him to help in protecting our barangay from the enemies of the state, particularly the bandits and communists under Martial Law. I saw the pride and discipline instilled in him, seeing him giving snappy salute to the Philippine flag and his dozen other comrades who took turn in guarding the small population in our village 24/7 to make sure that we live in peace. There was no way for a stranger to come to our village without going through the process of registration with the barangay and to secure a sponsor from within to guarantee that he is not an enemy of the state. We never had television then and we were contented with AM radio station which we can only access when the “everyday batteries” brand which powered on our off and on radio unit were not worn out after drying it under the heat of the sun for the entire day. As a Martial Law baby, my experience then was one of great peaceful life in our village.
When Martial Law was lifted in 1981, I was already entering high school at Holy Cross of Malita (HCM) where the teachings provided some sort of critical enlightenment on my views about our government from a religious perspective, particularly that of Martial Law. The Presentation of Mary (PM) sisters who took me into the school as a working student allowed me to go beyond the school teachings to the extent of even being resentful. I was then a defender of Marcos in our classroom discussions and the rest of my classmates were for Cory. Well, I was bludgeoned not by arguments but by sheer number of the anti-Marcos class owing to the general sentiment of the country as a result of the People Power Edsa Revolution.
When I entered the portals of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City after EDSA Revolution in 1986, I had a change of heart about my martial law perspective. The almost every day rallies, pickets ensuing at the campus then and the amount of anti-Marcos inputs being bombarded on my head have gradually influenced my appreciation of the Marcos Martial Law – that it was an oppressive rule based on the accounts shared via leaflets, news articles and the books written by those victims of the “carnage”, as they call it. But as a full-blooded SOCEM, while in college, a moderate left group in the country’s political spectrum, I was trained to live on the principles of our philosophies on critical realism and authentic humanism which taught me to be critically analytical on insights that we are getting and formulate our stand only based on those principles as our guide and not on emotion, much less being influenced blindly by other’s assertions. In short, you have a mind, use it and don’t be stupid! It was for this reason that I shifted course from Political Science to International Relations course due to irreconcilable differences on perspectives with Professors at the Pol Sci Department who were then mostly NATDEMS. Foreign Service was to me more of apolitical course and something close to my heart the expected exposure on the global political perspectives and foreign policies as against my roots having been raised as a Manobo child – an interesting mix.
For the last 36 years or so since the lifting of the Marcos Martial law in 1981, all available records that we have in that part of our country’s history pointed to the assertion that it was oppressive, dictatorial and it claimed thousands of innocent lives aside from forced disappearance, victims of rapes and torture, human rights violations, and the likes. But how about my own personal experience in the countryside under Martial law days and I believe, there are millions more like me who had a great and peaceful lives in the mountains away from the threats of the enemies of the state with the help of CHDF and the Philippine Constabulary? Isn’t it unfair that in charting the history of our country about Martial Law, we only highlight the dark side of it as if it was a period of total eclipse on our country’s existence, thereby conveniently forgetting the opposite experience of the majority which is denied a fair space in the annals of the country’s Martial law history?
As far as Marcos and his supporters are concerned, Martial Law was declared in response to threats posed by the communist insurgency which staged several attacks on various government establishments and ambuscade of law enforcement forces. As President, Marcos had the duty to defend the state against its communist enemies and hence, putting the entire country under Martial rule was to the best interest of the country. Some quarters, particularly activists and those victims of human rights violation during Martial Law in Manila claimed that the threats from communism were not for real and in fact, the ambuscades were staged to justify the declaration but the real intent was for Marcos to perpetuate himself to power as a dictator. He padlocked Congress and the judiciary and ruled the country under his own version of semi parliamentary form of government under the 1973 Constitution. And the atrocities committed during Martial law period will bear them out that indeed the Marcos despotism deserved the highest level of indignation and condemnation by the present day Filipino people.
Other quarters however, believed that the threats were for real and it was the Communist insurgents and their sympathizers who provoked Marcos to declare Martial Law as a matter of strategy to increase the anti-government sentiments particularly among the youth which served as fertile ground for their massive recruitment to the communist insurgency movement. Membership of the NPA was at very low figures during the early days of President Marcos time where the country enjoyed massive development projects which won our country’s tag as the Tiger Economy of Asia. But when Martial Law was declared, NPA’s membership rose to a high figures as 26,000, not to mention the tens of thousands membership of their front organizations operating on the extra-legal fronts which resisted the Martial law declaration through non-stop rallies and pickets, throwing molotob bombs against government forces and vandalisms which created a horrific scenario for the country under the state of chaos and anarchy. It seems to me that the Communists are the ones who benefitted the most during Martial Law declaration with the massive increase of their membership and recruitment. While there were thousands of deaths claimed among civilians, there were also thousands of men and women in uniform who fought against the threats in defense of the Philippine flag and were killed by the communists but denied a space in our history. Since when is “death in defense of one’s flag” considered a useless cause?
One interesting point which should be brought to the fore is the fact that when Martial Law was declared, there was no nationwide protests in the country reaching the level of “people power revolution” to satisfy the claim that the people were against it. Simply put, there was general acquiescence on the declaration and Filipinos generally allowed it to go on with the center of confrontations between the government forces and the protesters being in Metro Manila while the country sides lived in relative peace with the police and soldiers until it was lifted in 1981. But if you go by the version of the activists during Martial Law, the government was the villain while those who opposed it including the Communist insurgents and their supporters in the legal fronts were projected to be heroes, the martyrs, victims of human rights violations and the defenders of freedom. Well, I find this claim to be self-serving and sacrilegious to the memories of those who perished in defending the Philippine flag. For how can you be a hero if you seek to overthrow the country’s government and in effect tear down its own flag and replace with your own Communist emblem? SANAMAGAN!
Certainly, there are malicious lies intentionally embedded on the historical accounts about Marcos Martial Law as offered by the anti-Marcos groups, the activists particularly those who belong to the First Quarter Storm, human rights victims, politicians and the anti-Marcos oligarchs by reason of business interests. If you examine the records of these people, they are either members of the insurgency movements or belonging to the front organizations of the CPP/NPA/NDF except for the limited few who fought against Marcos as a matter of principle. Haven’t you wondered why after the EDSA revolution, the CPP/NPA/NDF did not lay down their arms and instead they continued to demonize the Cory Administration which they branded as fascist and a puppet of America? Who instigated the Mendiola Massacre? It was the Communists! And when Ramos succeeded Cory, they started marching on the streets shouting “down with the US-Ramos Regime”… During the Erap administration, the same slogan with different name – “down with Erap-US Puppet Regime”, and so with GMA and PNoy Presidencies. What makes them ridiculously preposterous is when they are starting to attack Duterte with their slogan “down with Duterte-US Puppet Regime” notwithstanding the fact that Digong declared his independent foreign policy shying away from US and opened the country’s door for China and Russia and then eventually “fuck youed America”. Don’t this people read? Or they are just plain idiots camouflaging as activists! They continue to proudly display their placards with slogan “down with US Imperialism, Capitalism and Feudalism. Why can’t they include Communism, being a threat to our government? Because they cannot attack their own group! Why won’t they paint on their placards “Down with Duterte-China Puppet Regime? Fuckin idiots! For the life of me, I can’t really fathom the level of confidence and persistence of these people to continue on their street protests until they succeed in seizing the government power.
It looks to me that the problems of the Marcos Martial Law was the implementation side of it which created havoc resulting to loss of innocent lives and the human rights atrocities being committed by the government forces. But no one can condemn Marcos when it was declared with the intent of protecting the state as we cannot allow the communist emblem to fly over government establishments. Therefore, we blame the implementors for the mess up that went with the declaration. Of course, by command responsibility Marcos was partly to blame and should be held ultimately responsible for it. But the implementor of Martial Law was former President Fidel Ramos and among the brains behind it, was then Senate President Enrile. But the activists and the so called human rights violations victims chose to haunt Marcos to pay for his crimes even when he is already 6 feet below the ground several decades ago. And what is objectionably disturbing is when they are trying to turn their guns against the Marcos children demanding that they pay for the crimes committed by their father. But isn’t it that the human rights atrocities were committed by the Philippine Constabulary (PC) in Metro Manila which is actually responsible for the thousands death, forced disappearances, the torture and rape etc.? Who was the head of the PC at that time? It was former President Fidel Ramos. You claimed that the threats were staged to justify the Martial Law declaration and among those justifications was the supposed ambuscade against then Minister of National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile by the NPAs? These 2 are still very much alive today and probably laughing at your insanity. You elected one for many times as Senator and became Senate President for a long time and the other, you elected as President of the Republic of the Philippines. Did you even bother, at one point in our recent history, run after their asses for the heinous acts they have perpetrated against your group and those who supported you? What is scandalous is when you joined Mr. Ramos is criticizing Duterte for declaring Martial Law in Mindanao for fear or human rights violations. And to add insult to injury, when Mr. Kit Tatad, the fuckin idiot who read the declaration of PD 1081 on that momentous date of 21 September 1973, is now joining your ranks in attacking Duterte for declaring Martial law. Isn’t it making your position obscenely awkward? How do you expect us to believe you for sleeping with your enemies? SANAMAGAN!
With the shallow arguments you are advancing in staging resistance of Martial Law has only exposed your demonic agenda and that you can never work with any administration until you succeed in seizing power and implement your communist form of government, at all cost. But such aspiration smacks of stupidity and idiocy at the highest level considering that your ideology is now a passe and therefore, it should only exist in your old books being rendered now as an obsolete idea whose relevance has already expired. China has ceased to operate as a communist and so with Russia which you have looked up to. So what will happen to your ideas when the world has already abandoned it?
On September 21 commemoration, you will once again attempt to exploit the innocence of the millennials, the youth, farmers, workers women and those vulnerable sectors of the society which you think can be used as pawns in sowing chaos in our country during rallies and threaten the security of our country to serve the ends of communist patrons. You want Digong to respond by declaring Martial Law because you think it will bring back the First Quarter Storm Scenario where anti- government sentiments among the youth will persist and thereby giving you the opportunity to once again increase the membership of your satanic congregation. But just to remind you, this is the 21st century, the age of digital information where social media now helps in educating the masses, overshadowing your non-sensible lectures, raising the same issues you sung some 36 years back. You will definitely look plain brainless parrots marching on the streets while the Filipinos are watching you with much amusement. You will be there for our entertainment. So go on. Savor the freedom Digong has given you. Our constitution guratees your bill of rights co be perpetually idiots in our society. Digong declared September 21 as protest day for you to maximize your display of arrogance and misguided sense of patriotism. But the moment you start to ignite trouble, this administration will slap you with a revolutionary government and the 84 Million or more Filipinos will back Digong in sweeping you off the streets of this country like pests and cockroaches to put an end to all your shenanigans and to tell you that this country is off limits to communists. There is no way for us to allow the communist emblem to be waving over the Philippine soil. NEVER!
And as for me and the many millions more Filipinos around the country, on September 21, we will reminisce the beautiful experience we had during our youthful days under Marcos Martial Law to remind us of our duty to defend this country from the enemies of the state. I recall my father who kept telling me then, explaining all their sacrifices as CHDF members, that they were being trained to protect the Philippine flag against the enemies of the state like the communists and bandits under the folds of Marcos Martial Law. He used is Garand Rifle in performing his duty then, while I am now using my laptop in doing my fair share of the same responsibility as a Mindanaoan under the Mindanao Martial Law of Duterte. – JA.
(Let the bleeding hearts bleed. Share if you see fit. JA)