Category: martial law

why sept 21 #MartialLaw

manolo quezon rightly points out that martial law did not begin on the 21st.  in the explainer The big lie manolo tells us how things unfolded over the 21st and the 22nd to the 23rd of september 1972.  as a matter of fact we were still a free people on the 21st.  in fact marcos gave the GO signal only after enrile was ambushed kuno, that is, on the evening of the 22nd.  and yes we only found out on the 23rd when we awoke to a multimedia blackout that lasted almost all day, and we went to sleep with tv images of marcos declaring that martial law was in place, like it or not.

… martial law was announced with silence: people woke up to discover that TV and radio stations were off the air. Later in the day, some stations started playing easy listening music and some stations aired cartoons. But Marcos’ speechwriters were slow, then the teleprompter broke down, and the speech had to be hand-written on kartolina. So it wasn’t until dinnertime that Marcos finally appeared on TV and the country found out martial law was in place.

So, why do so many people who actually lived through martial law, misremember when it was proclaimed?

Marcos once said that the people would accept anything so long as it was legal. Marcos said he’d imposed martial law on September 21. We know this wasn’t true, because the document itself was co-signed, not by Alejandro Melchor, his executive secretary, but by a presidential assistant. This was because Melchor had left for abroad before Marcos actually signed the martial law proclamation sometime between the evening and early morning of September 22 to 23.

marcos was known to believe in the occult, and in the magic of the number 7 and its multiples such as the lucky 21, which could be why proclamation 1081 is dated sept  21 even if it was not signed until sept 22, or maybe 23.

Marcos went further to wipe the public’s memory clean. He later proclaimed September 21 as Thanksgiving Day. And in every speech, every documentary, every poster, September 21 was the date enshrined as the birth of the New Society. So much so that the public forgot what it had actually lived through. This is the power of propaganda. By altering the date, Marcos helped erase not only September 21 as the last day of freedom, but also how that freedom was lost between September 22 and 23. His lawyerly piece of paper, his Proclamation 1081, became the ultimate instrument for national amnesia.

So, remember September 21 by all means. Not as the fake news date Marcos wanted you to remember, but for the things he wanted you to forget: a still-independent Senate, freedom of assembly, and a free press. But remember what he wanted you to forget: that it was on September 23 that the nation woke up to discover all these things were suddenly gone. And that the next day, the last institution standing, the Supreme Court, received the warning: play ball, or be abolished. They played ball.

indeed 21 worked for marcos but only in the early years of martial law.  parang 22’s vibe kicked in towards the end, but that’s another story.  anyway, 21’s vibe is good for people getting together, rising above self-interests, reconciling differences for the good of the whole.

and it’s not all that inappropriate, marking the 21st as a day of infamy, the day that marcos marked as thanksgiving day, the day marking the birth of “the new society” — THAT was the big lie.  the promise of “bagong lipunan” didn’t pan out, except for the crooks.

notes on edsa uno, change in a time of chaos

we get asked: paano ba mag-edsa.  aliw.  naging verb na ang dati ay noun, which is good. it’s a good question to be asking, and to be thinking on.

in october last year, in the run-up to the burial of marcos sa libingan ng mga bayani, when there was dilawan talk of ousting duterte by staging an edsa in support of the president’s impeachment or a coup d’etat, i said no way.  i was sure there was no ousting duterte: aint gonna happen.

…their best hakot efforts would be as nothing compared to the throngs that the duterte camp is certainly capable of mobilizing throughout the country.  of course they could also shoot for a “crony”-business boycott a la pre-EDSA 86, but the duterte camp could just as easily mount a counter-boycott of the vp’s business allies, and it’s easy to imagine kung sinong pupulutin sa kangkungan.

but here we are again.  and this time, ubos na, said na, ang benefit-of-the-doubt.   read radikalchick’s How we lost our rights in 15 months #Duterte.

i thought the CHR one-k budget was past the limit and hoped it would be the last of the offensives for the nonce, coming so soon after the marcos 100 celeb sa libingan ng mga bayani.  like, you know, give us a break?

instead it got worse.  nasundan ng sereno impeachment — one of two complaints found sufficient in form and substance by house justice  committee (next week pa daw si bautista) —  na nasundan pa ng ombudsman’s indictment of pNoy over mamasapano, this while the president warns against violent protests on sept 21, the war in marawi rages on, finance sec dominguez salivates for the marcos wealth, jinggoy is suddenly out on bail, and the president just called out chr chief gaston: why daw does he care so much about male kids being killed. omg, the president doesn’t care?  it would seem that they really have no valid case vs gascon, and so they’re resorting to dirty tricks to pressure him into resigning.  (why kaya aren’t they doing that to comelec chief baustista instead?)

“You are so fixated with the death of young males, kaya nagdududa ako na pedophile kang gago ka.”

offensives galore.  nang-iinis, nambabastos, nananadya, dismissing us as bleeding-heart dilawans (which most of us are not)  or subversive communists (which most of us are not either), hoping to provoke us, no doubt, deliberately fueling a simmering rage, the kind that could lead to angry protests that could turn violent which would give him the excuse to sic the police on protesters, sabay declare ng martial law.

paano nga ba mag-edsa.  all i know for sure is that it will take more than one huge protest rally where dilawans and leftists, and everyone in between, come together for a common cause.  the september 21 rally of the multisectoral Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) that very specifically seeks only an end to drug killings and the attendant fascism is one such common cause that both extremist dilawans and extremist leftists (both affirmists and rejectionists) should have no difficulty getting behind in union with independent middle forces.

lampasan muna sana yung “but i want duterte ousted” at yung “but i don’t like leni” for maximum effect in the context of a process unfolding.

the template, of course, is the august 1983 to february 1986 movement that started out as a call to justice for ninoy, justice for all that only towards the end evolved into marcos resign.  it bears pointing out that the ruling mantra of every rally over those 30 months was NON-VIOLENCE.  it helped, of course, that the cops practised maximum tolerance then, kept their distance, marcos was on his best behavior since ninoy’s assassination, the world was watching kasi.

the world is still watching, but these are different times.  we have trigger-happy cops and a president who threatens martial law if rallies get out of hand.  sana the cops keep their distance on sept 21.  but if not, don’t push back, don’t strike back with sticks or stones, don’t burn rubber tires, not even effigies.  where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

non-violent tactics worked then and can work now as long as everyone’s on the same page.  one page at a time.

Requiem for Marawi

Amelia HC Ylagan

Only the rat-a-tat of gunfire cuts through the thick smoke standing unafraid in the stillness. Then, dusty feet climb soundless on the ash-carpeted stairs onto a tiered stage nested amidst rubble and fallen stone pillars — and slowly the haze lifts like a curtain rising. High gothic arches loom as backdrop, and the light from a shattered stained-glass rose window shines upon a full symphonic orchestra and choir: it is Zubin Mehta conducting the Sarajevo Symphony and Choir, for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem in D-minor.”

It was at the saddest height of the infamous Siege of Sarajevo that Mozart’s “Requiem” was played in 1994. The charred remains of the National Library, once the Sarajevo City Hall, was a tragic monument to “some 10,000 people, the vast majority civilians and many of them children, (who) have died or disappeared during the Serbian nationalists’ bombardment of Sarajevo (April 5, 1992 to Feb. 29, 1996) (The New York Times, 06.20.1994).” The 10-minute video of the 35-minute full concert showed buildings burning from air strikes and bombings, juxtaposed with horrible vignettes of the wounded and killed. Children and babies wide-eyed with fear must have harkened, in their innocence, to the plaintive wailing of violins in the requiem and the magnified pounding of their hearts in the heavy bassoons and drums.

The persistent adagio of Mozart’s Requiem bears on the hearts of all in predominantly Muslim Marawi, as in the whole country today, like it did in Sarajevo two decades ago — still to evoke the rueful destruction from ethnic/religious conflicts and rebellions between and among citizens of one country.

“I weep for all the civilians who were mercilessly killed, I weep for the lost homes of my people and I weep for the loss of the true essence of Islam in the people who caused all these destructions to our lives and properties,” Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra painfully shared (AP, 06.14.2017).

Nearly every day for weeks, the Philippine military has pounded Marawi with rockets and bombs, to ferret out militants believed to be linked to the terrorist Islamic State group. It is one of the fiercest urban combat this volatile region has seen in decades, the Mindanao Sunstar notes (06.12.2017).

On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao (ABS-CBN News, 05.23.2017). Around 400,000 residents of Marawi City and neighboring towns in Lanao del Sur have been displaced in different parts of the country. Reports of death of civilians due to indiscriminate aerial bombardment have risen to 39 individuals by government reports, according to the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines or RMP, founded by the Association of Major Women Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMWRSP), a religious civil activist group. The military confirms that around 507 people have died — of this number, 379 were terrorists; 89 were soldiers and rest were civilians (, 07.20.2017).

“Thousands of families have been staying in different evacuation centers since the fighting erupted before the start of Ramadan on May 23. Many people have died not because they were caught in the crossfire but because of the poor condition at evacuation centers, Sharjah resident and former MarCom (Maranao Community) president Roy Tamano said (Ibid.). “Many cadavers are not yet collected,” he said. “Only after the war has concluded and a thorough clearing operation is conducted can we ascertain the number of casualties,” he explained. Evacuees worried that they will have nothing left of their properties when they go back home (Ibid.)

Yet two months on, and the fighting is still going on in Marawi. Meanwhile, the declaration of martial law, which was effective for a maximum 60 days as prescribed in the Constitution, was to end on July 22. To the rescue, the Philippine Congress met for a marathon joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives to vote on President Duterte’s letter request for the extension of martial law for another 152 days, to expire on Dec. 31 (CNN Philippines live coverage, 07.22.2017).

The Senate House voted 16 Yes and 4 No to the motion of Sen. Gregorio Honasan to allow Duterte’s request for a 152-day extension of martial law. Sen. Franklin Drilon tried to submit an amended motion to limit the extension only for another 60 days, as also proposed by a few other legislators, and as it would be more in keeping with the original 60 days of initial declaration. His motion was denied, and Honasan’s motion was approved.

The House of Representatives voted 245 Yes and 14 No to the motion of Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, which was identical to the Honasan motion. Rep. Edcel Lagman tried to object to Fariñas’s motion on the argument that there was no factual basis for martial law ab initio. All objections were put aside as a combined total vote of 261 Yes and 18 No from both Houses gave Duterte an overwhelming mandate to effectively proceed with the siege of Marawi, armed with legitimate martial law for the whole Mindanao, until Dec. 31.

“Please ask us how we feel. Please ask us how do we stand up and rise,” Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Meranon civil rights leader pleaded in tears to the joint Congress at Saturday’s hearing on Duterte’s request. Tindeg Ranao, a group formed by Marawi City evacuees as “a response to the need to unite evacuees that call for justice to victims of human rights violations, calls for a stop to military air strikes that resulted in the destruction of their communities, and calls to lift martial law declaration that has resulted in military abuses (” Tindeg Ranao wants martial law lifted, to allow the 260,000 displaced Marawi residents to return to their homes (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 07.22.2017).

But the cymbals clashed a metallic death clang for Marawi as the final decision was made at the joint-Houses voting to extend President Duterte’s martial law powers over Mindanao. The air strikes and strafing will continue and collateral damage to people and property will continue. Search and destroy assaults by the military will capture Maute and supporters-accomplices, or more likely, kill rebels and innocents alike, in the facelessness of the foe in the very first extensive and long-playing open urban war of brother against brother in recent Philippine rebellion history.

Mozart’s “Requiem” is played for Marawi.

The Supreme Court martial law ruling: Legal foundation for autocratic rule?


Are we witnessing the early signs of the constitution’s evisceration? Did the Supreme Court lay the legal foundation for the undue expansion of Martial Law to other parts of the country? Have the seeds of authoritarianism been judicially planted?

And just like the criticism on the Supreme Court that legitimized dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law regime in 1973, did the present Supreme Court make itself a willing partner emasculating our democratic institutions?

Read on…