Martial law, e ano?-A A +A
Saturday, September 22, 2012
OF NUMEROUS anti-martial laws, anti-Marcos protest slogans then the most popular and combative was probably "Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta!" It was so simple and vulgar, succinct in its depiction of the character of Marcos regime, easy to remember, and highly combative that easily aroused militancy among Filipinos, especially students and workers.
It sharply depicted Marcos as a fascist and dictator like Hitler, and a puppet, stooge, a proxy of US imperialism, the global power that dictates the political, economic and cultural policies and programs of the Marcos regime.
Everytime I chanted it in protest action, I felt easily aroused, and the rage that it drew in me made me feel bigger and invincible in the face of the regime's crowd dispersal brigaides.
In one violent confrontation in plaza Sta. Cruz in early 1975, one of my early exposures as a graduating college student to protest movement, I could still remember that some of us were bloody after the dispersal and as we ran to look for a refuge we were still chanting the said slogan in interval with another slogans “makibaka, huwag matakot!” “martial law, martial law, e, ano, e ano!,” “martial law, martial law, tigreng
papel, tigreng papel!”
Months later, a number of us, found ourselves in the picket line of La Tondena workers, with hundreds youth and students, nuns and priests. Everytime the police forces came with threat of dispersal, we chanted the same slogans. It was the first major worker's strike in the early years of martial law. It also became the trigger of series of worker's strikes in Metro Manila.
In a gathering of Adidas-RubberWorld workers i attended in a community chapel in Bo. Tatalon, Quezon City, later that year, police and local tanods came and told us to disperse because only gathering in prescribed parks or protest area is allowed, when the workers leaders argued that it was a legitimate union meeting, we were all forcibly dispersed.
The year after, while we were holding a protest action in front of Petron office in Makati condemning oil price hike, we were dispersed violently; some of us including myself were detained for a day in Makati jail. It was the Jose Diokno law associates that freed us.
I still had countless experiences with martial law since that detention, even after martial law was officially lifted in 1981, and even after Marcos was ousted in 1986.
Those experiences brought me so much learning, and I must say shaped most of what I am now.
I always consider myself fortunate to be part of the martial law regime.
First, it opened my consciousness to the bigger world of material and dialectics, that all things have basis of existence, and happen for a reason. Second, it subjected to the rigors of concrete conditions, the reality of social and class contradictions the myopic, banking methods of learning framework i had in school, and eventually led me to establish my own framework of learning and struggle.
Third, it made me value life, not just rights. Our rights are meaningless if we're dead; our life is useless if our rights are curtailed. The late Bhp Antonio Fortich once said, if you want justice, defend life. Fourth, it taught me nationalism and internationalism. To defeat a dictatorial and fascist rule, we must unite as a sovereign people, seek unity with other peoples fighting the same, and we must use all methods possible depending on circumstances, the legal and the extra legal, armed and the non-armed, above ground and underground.
The question being asked now is, Is martial law totally gone, a thing of the past?
It is if we mean only its legal formalities and structures, e.g. the legal declaration, the emergency powers, the police and military junta, the absence of formal democratic structures like Congress, etc.
It remains however if we mean it as a comprehensive coercive tool of the ruling elites to preserve their interests, perpetuate their political rule, and suppress people's resistance. By coercive tool, I mean, the use of bare and subtle force to impose their will, their policies and programs on the people.
Are there signs of martial law still enforced?
Obviously there are, and more. But whether or not they will lead to another open declaration of fascist rule is something we have to be vigilant.
If ever PNoy or the next imposed martial law again, e ano?! We might just change the slogan to "PNoy, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta (ng Kano o Instik?)!"
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 22, 2012.