Category: martial law

monica feria (1954-2016)

Sept. 22-23, 1972: Our lives changed overnight

That whole week before Sept. 22, 1972, the University of the Philippines was aflame with rallies and teach-ins. Opposition leader Ninoy Aquino had warned that the declaration of martial law was imminent. Midweek, up to 30 busloads of students had been mobilized for a civil liberties rally at Plaza Miranda.

Read on…

When a leader betrays his people

Rex D. Lores

… What is deeply disturbing about President Duterte’s decision is the clear disconnect between his rhetoric and reality. On one hand, he is pursuing a devastating campaign against criminality and corruption; on the other, he is coddling the memory of a tyrant whose crimes and corruption stagger our imagination.

On one hand, he is attacking oligarchs who accumulated wealth over decades; on the other, he is praising a discredited leader who became the country’s greatest oligarch overnight by illegally seizing the assets of the elite.

Marcos’ rise to power started with a lie, and he prevailed for so long through the legislative and executive branches of government largely on his capacity to manipulate or conceal the truth. It started with his claims of heroic exploits as a soldier in World War II, claims found fraudulent and without a scintilla of evidence in US Army archives.

Employing these improbable claims, he captured the central seat of power. Thus, the disingenuous argument goes, Marcos is qualified to rest with our heroes. The trouble with this argument is that, bereft of moral reasoning, it is blind to the infinite harm Marcos inflicted on the social fabric.

It smirks at the historical truth: Marcos’ wanton violation of the Constitution, the brutality of his regime, the astronomical external debt he incurred, the collapse of our economy, and the stunning wealth he stole to become the world’s second most corrupt leader of all time.

As flagrant and unconscionable as these atrocities may be, they were not the worst. The most damning was that Marcos derailed the hopes and aspirations of at least three generations of Filipinos, deepening our despair and our desperation.

Death cannot be a cleansing sacrament to alter Marcos’ sordid and bloody legacy. The impunity of Marcos’ long despotic rule will burden our sense of national dignity for generations to come. And how we reckon with this design to rehabilitate Marcos as a national hero has enormous implications on our values as a people, on the nature of our future, and on the efficacy of our political culture.

To bury Marcos in the heroes’ cemetery mocks the valor, dignity, and sacrifice of martyred Filipinos. But even more, it mocks our national esteem and our shared civic values as a democratic society.

calling out the prez and the solgen: “healing” for whom?

President Duterte’s order to allow former President Marcos’ interment at the [Libingan ng mga Bayani] is based on his determination that it shall promote national healing and forgiveness, and redound to the benefit of the Filipino people.” 

should not healing be for those who were hurt, tortured, who lost family and loved ones, who survived the atrocities but have seen the marcoses easing their way back to power with nary an apology, who have had to watch helplessly as nation forgets what martial law wrought on nation, on the real lives of real people, given press releases, media complicity, social media money and mileage?

burying marcos in libingan ng mga bayani, mr. president, will only rub salt on still painful wounds and deepen divisions in the body politic.  ang matutuwa lang po ay ang mga marcos at mga marcos loyalist, gayong they don’t need any healing except from the karmic wound of humiliation they suffered deservedly upon the stunning ouster of their overstaying and plundering dictator of a patriarch 30 years ago.

in effect, mr. president, you are forgiving marcos and martial law even as you, yourself, admitted on the campaign trail in feb 2016 that martial law was “clean” only “during the first years.”

napakasuwerte naman nila, sir.  at napakamalas naman ng bayan!

with all due respect, mr. president, for the sake of this nation that you say you love so passionately, this is one campaign promise you would be wise to renege on.  prove to us that you are the president not only of the marcoses and the 16 million supporters you love to wave at us.  it would be a giant step forward for nation, raise morale and some confidence in these unsetlling times, and hopefully start us all off on the road to moral recovery.


Victor Peñaranda

One early morning the stars lost their meaning
As my wife started to labor with our eldest child.
I tripped at the thought of finding her a midwife,
Of rushing her to the confines of an emergency room
Somewhere at the rim of her pain and my anxiety,
At the brink of defying the curfew on civilians.
They could have detained or shot us if found outdoors,
For resembling homeless vagrant or sleepless militant.

This happened many years ago during martial law,
When suspected activists were abducted
From their homes and tortured in safe houses,
Left to die in the playground of an assassin’s mind.
Our fear went public like a flock of startled birds
Bursting from a vast plain into fragile existence.
From the dewdrop of my silence flowered
A tensile strength to be selfless than helpless.

To be subversive rather than subservient,
That’s how we chose to be in those difficult times
And the lessons of liberation have not deserted us:
Even when cautious we remain adventurous.
We become a country of recall when someone
Threatens to bury a tyrant in our field of heroes,
And citizens create moments of radiance while sharing
Fables that offer them momentum to be free.

August 20, 2016