FORTY-seven years ago, darkness reigned, but it did not prevail against the force of a united people.
Darkness may reign now, but it will be defied.
Forty-seven years ago, the Filipino people went through one of the darkest and bloodiest periods in our nation’s history. With the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, the late Ferdinand Marcos unleashed the horrors of a brutal fascist dictatorship: civil liberties and people’s rights were brazenly attacked and violated; democratic institutions were dismantled in consolidating authoritarian rule; the free press was shut down; millions were plundered from the country’s coffers to fatten the pockets of the Marcoses and their corrupt cronies as the nation suffered under extreme poverty; and hundreds of political opponents and critics along with thousands of activists, organizers, and unionists were illegally abducted and detained, tortured, killed or forcibly disappeared—some of whom are still missing to this day.
On the eve of the 47th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, Karapatan joins the Filipino people in remembering all the victims and martyrs of the Marcos dictatorship. We remember their lives, we remember their sacrifices, and we remember their struggle for democracy, freedom, and justice—culminating in the toppling of the Marcos regime by a united Filipino people against tyranny and dictatorship. However, the fight for a just and humane society is far from over.
We are confronted yet again with the horrors and brutalities of Marcos’ martial law, as we see a creeping dictatorship taking form, helmed by dictator wannabe Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte is an altogether different monster. He has coddled the Marcoses and enabled them to shamelessly return to power and escape accountability, with Imee Marcos even securing a seat in the Senate while Imelda Marcos was able to walk free despite being convicted of 7 counts of graft. Duterte, like a true Marcos fanboy, is now eagerly following the Marcosian playbook of repression and oppression. We are once again promised a golden age, no doubt marked by a ballooning debt and worsening economic crisis.
Martial law and de facto martial law have been put in place. Martial law in Mindanao has been repeatedly extended without basis, and has enabled State forces to commit more atrocities with astounding impunity. The Lumad and Moro people have been subjected to killings and intensified militarization, justified by the military through scare tactics and feeding public paranoia. Transparency is not the priority of fascist regimes. This same arrangement, sans the formal declaration, is also creating havoc in the regions of Negros, Samar and Bicol under Memorandum Order 32. Whatever the name, the impact of formal and de factor martial law remains salient–unhampered human rights violations.
Darkness may reign now, but it will never prevail against the force of a united people.