By Democrito Barcenas
PROCLAMATION 1081, which placed the entire country under martial law, was signed by Ferdinand Marcos on Sept. 21, 1972. It was, however, implemented at dawn of Sept. 23.
The first casualty were media. Closed down were eight major English papers, four vernacular and Spanish language newspapers, 66 TV channels, 20 Manila radio stations and 292 provincial radio stations. Newspapers that were allowed to operate were mouthpieces of the government like the “Daily Express.”
All over the country, around 70,000 were arrested and detained upon orders of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, acting on behalf of Ferdinand Marcos. Arrested were student leaders, peasants, publishers, journalists and leaders of the political opposition. Human rights were violated as thousands were tortured and murdered by the regime with impunity.
Among those arrested were known Marcos critics like Senators Benigno Aquino Jr. and Jose W. Diokno. Aquino suffered seven years in detention and Diokno endured imprisonment for almost three years.
Marcos was not only a dreaded despot, he was also a thief and a plunderer par excellence. Together with his gang of thieves and plunderers, they looted almost everything while in power. As aptly observed by the Philippines Free Press (issue of June 28, 1986), “their greed was boundless and their plunder proved to have reached a staggering magnitude that has no parallel in world history.”
When President Duterte ordered the burial of the dictator at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, he spat on the graves of thousands of martial law victims and insulted the memory of those who suffered under the brutal Marcos dictatorship.
Those of us who have survived the horrors of martial law must remain vigilant and heed the words of the philosopher George Santayana that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”