Remember Martial Law Heroes

Freedom fighter Carolina 'Bobbie' Malay offers flowers at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Center in Quezon City on Monday. Human rights activists and relatives gathered to remember their loved ones killed during the Martial Law years imposed by the late President Marcos. (Photo and caption from Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN)

Click here for more documentation of the September 21, 2015 gathering.

Luis Teodoro on Marcos Jr: His Father's Son

This is column written by Luis Teodoro for Business World. Read the original here.
IN A PERFORMANCE that would have done his father proud, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. managed to apologize and not apologize at the same time during a television interview last week (August 26).

Marcos Jr. was asked if he was going to apologize for martial law—that period in Philippine recent history, the length of which is still in dispute to this day. (Martial law officially ended in 1981, but in testimony to his own cunning, Ferdinand Marcos retained his authoritarian powers until he was overthrown in 1986.)

His reply as freely translated from Filipino: “We (the Marcoses) have consistently said that if during the time of my father, some were hurt, were not helped, or were victimized in some way, we are sorry that happened. Nobody wanted that to happen. These are instances when people fell through the cracks.”

However, continued Marcos Jr., “Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers [of roads] that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that made us self-sufficient in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?”

The first statement—the “apology”– assumes that martial law was all about helping people, whereas it wasn’t. It also makes it appear that whatever abuses occurred were not intended: the men and women who were “victimized” simply “fell through the cracks.”

Martial law was nothing of the kind. Helping others was never in its agenda. Its intention was to keep Marcos and his cronies and military thugs in power and to halt the vast movement for change and the democratization of political power that was sweeping the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To achieve those ends, the regime used the most brutal means, among them the abduction, murder, enforced disappearance and indeterminate detention of some of the best and brightest sons and daughters of the Filipino people.

A hundred thousand men and women were arrested and detained for daring to imagine an alternative State and society, with over 10,000 being tortured, disappeared and murdered. They did not “fall through the cracks;” they were pushed into them so the Marcos military machine could crush them.

The seccond statement—the non-apology—assumes that not only were there “thousands and thousands of kilometers of roads built” during the martial law period; it also makes it appear that to build them a dictatorship was necessary. Marcos Sr. was in fact already building those roads during his first term as President—when he did not need extraordinary powers to do so.

Marcos Jr.’s claim about self-sufficiency in rice is similar folklore: there was a perennial rice crisis during much of his father’s brutal reign, with people having to line up for the cereal for hours, and mixing rice with corn. As for power generation, it was true that alternative means of generating power were being explored during the last years of Marcos’ rule, but these attempts never made much of a difference in assuring reliable power sources beyond the 1980s.

“The highest literacy rate in Asia” was not Marcos’ doing either: the Philippines has had that distinction since the end of the Second World War. The literacy rate actually plummeted during the Marcos autocracy, when fear made learning and teaching dangerous undertakings, recovering only by the 1990s when the regime had been overthrown.

What is ironic about the latter claim is that the Marcos dictatorship was specially focused on attacking and eliminating the literate—students, professors and teachers, creative writers, journalists, church people, anti-regime businessmen, the political opposition, worker and peasant leaders– to assure its continuing in power.

Marcos Jr.’s non-apology glosses over—in fact completely denies—these realities during his father’s regime, but he wants Filipinos to vote for him in 2016 either for President or Vice President. He claims that he has the support of the young to justify his running, and quotes a common mis-appreciation and mis-understanding of what the darkest period in recent Philippine history was like.

It is true that one often hears the claim that things were better during the martial law period. Many young people, said Marcos, say that “It was better during Marcos’ time, life was more comfortable. It was better during Marcos’ time; the government helped us. We hope that comes back.”

It’s not only out of school youth who say this. Some college students have also been known to claim that the Ferdinand Marcos regime did the country a lot of good, in the process displaying their and their so-called professors’ and parents’ appalling ignorance of the period. The same ignorance has been evident even among older Filipinos, judging from their issuances in the old media and even in the new. In such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter, the same moral agnosticism and intellectual vacuity approach epidemic proportions every September, when the declaration of martial law in 1972 becomes the subject of posts by, among other groups and individuals, former political prisoners.

What those who yearn for the return of their imagined period of bliss do not realize is that the present that they denigrate is in many ways the consequence of the authoritarian past. The martial law period not only savaged the Bill of Rights, the economy, and those institutions of liberal democracy such as the free press and representative democracy that, though flawed and limited, nevertheless allowed some measure of dissent and free expression. It also established a pattern of unparalleled corruption, abuse and repression from which the country still has to recover.

It is the latter that has been the most dangerous legacy of the regime for which Marcos Jr. is refusing to apologize. When he declared martial law, Ferdinand Marcos let loose all the dark forces resident in the unswept corners of a corrupt society, releasing from the restraints of civilization the most murderous and most brutal elements of the police and military upon a defenseless people. True, these brutes also had to deal with the armed resistance to the Marcos klepto-bureaucratic reign of assassins and thieves. But cowards all, they were for the most part focused on and most expert at the torture and murder of those armed only with the courage of their convictions.

Marcos Jr. cannot and should not be allowed to simply brush all these aside as mere allegations, and by seeking shelter in his confidence in the positive judgment of history. If indeed history is any guide, no one in his right mind should even be thinking of putting another Marcos in Malacanang—or even another Marcos within a heartbeat of the Presidency.

By demonstrating a total absence of feeling for the dead, the injured, the tortured, the families separated, and the disappeared, and refusing to acknowledge regime responsibility for them, Marcos Jr. has once again established that he is, indeed, his father’s son.

‘Lumad’ Killings Traced to Marcos’ Martial Rule

“We can trace the origin of the killings with impunity to the Marcos dictatorship’s having abetted the brutal ways by which paramilitary groups freely carried out political killings and other human rights violations.” -Satur Ocampo, political detainee during Martial Law

Read the Inquirer feature here. Photo from the Inquirer.

From Martial Law to ‘daang Matwid,’ Paramilitary Groups Are Alive and Killing

During Martial Law in the 70s, Dulphing Ogan, 50, a Blaan, recalled that he was barely 10 years old when his family and neighbours hurriedly left their homes to seek refuge in the woods in Sarangani province. It was his earliest memory of evacuation, by his own community caught between armed clashes of the Moro Black Shirts and the Ilonggo Land Grabbers Association (Ilaga).

“I remembered the Ilaga were said to be grabbing Moro lands in Mindanao,” Ogan said. The Ilagas operated alongside government troops, and fought the Black Shirt Moros, also known as Bangsamoro Army (Bama).

“Another time, we evacuated because we heard gunshots from nearby villages, some two hours away. There were fightings between Moros and soldiers of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) then. We left our home at midnight, and spent the night in the woods,” Ogan said.

(Read the rest of this article by Dee Ayroso at

Fun Run Relives Martial Law Experience

The Great Lean Run honors the life of iconic UP student leader Lean Alejandro and commemorates the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. Read the entire feature at Rappler.
Organizers of the great lean run emphasize the importance of educating younger generation of Filipinos about the abuses done during the Martial Law period. As the Philippines commemorates the 43rd anniversary of one of the worst events in Philippine history, human rights advocates say we need to remember martyrs like Lean Alejandro to never let another dictatorship come into power.

'Bongbong Marcos Knows What to Apologize For'

Rappler recently published Bantayog's open letter at their site. Read the open letter and the numerous comments and reaction from social media at Rappler. Photo from the Rappler post.
You owe it to the victims of your parents’ regime, but you also owe it to your own sons. How do you teach them the selflessness of true public service and the value of honesty and of righting of wrongs if you lack the courage to admit the truth? How do you spare your sons the scorn that certainly faces them if your family continues to feel no remorse or regret over the years of dictatorship?

You are nearing your 60s, a senator, and possessed of normal intelligence. You know what it is exactly that you and your family have to be sorry for. History will judge, you say? That is why you must now stop the lies – because precisely, history, and the people you have aggrieved, will judge.

Lean Alejandro's Letter to Dr. Rita Estrada (1985)

On March 14, 1985, Lean Alejandro wrote a letter to Psychology Department Professor Dr. Rita Estrada. He was still detained at the Camp Ipil Reception Center, Fort Bonifacio at that time.

An Open Letter to Senator Ferdinand 'Bong Bong' Marcos, Jr.

(On Aug. 26, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was asked during an interview with ANC's Headstart whether, as a potential candidate for the country's top positions, he would apologize for the corruption and abuses perpetrated by his father's brutal regime. The meat of his response was, "What am I to say sorry about?” This is a response to Senator Marcos’ question. For clarifications, please contact Bantayog.)

Dear Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,

The extent of your parents’ crimes during the Marcos dictatorship is so extensive its accounting has yet to be completed.

Ferdinand Marcos wrecked Congress, the courts and the bureaucracy. He prostituted the military. He shackled the country with debts. Your parents stole billions of the people’s money and from their political opponents. He had a nuclear plant built that never operated but which the country has to pay for in loans.

He had thousands jailed, abducted, tortured or killed. Many activists are still missing to this day.A law was enacted by Congress in 2012 offering reparation to these victims. As of the latest, seventy-five thousand individuals have applied (and thousands more did not, or failed to, file) for claims. Compensation would be taken from assets recovered from Swiss banks, described by the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Burkhalter as “looted from the state” by a “corrupt dictator.” The law was an effort by the Philippine and Swiss governments to “right the wrongs committed by the Marcos regime,” said the Swiss ambassador.

We who are writing this letter represent a foundation that launched a book just last month, containing over 100 accounts of the lives of those heroic individuals who fought your father’s regime because they saw it as undemocratic, cruel, and corrupt. We have accounts of unarmed activists shot dead in San Rafael, Bulacan; or who were abducted and later found barely alive or dead in Angeles City, Pampanga, or who were mowed down with gunfire while joining rallies in Escalante in Negros Occidental and in Daet in Camarines Norte. The book was published by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

It is time for honesty, Mr. Senator. You owe it to the country that let you go free unharmed when in February 1986, the Filipino people finally drove your family out. It was through a democratic uprising called in song “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo,” a gift to the world, because Filipinos managed to cut the Marcos stranglehold with very little violence in the society. It was a gift to you also -- a gift of your second lives.

You owe it to the victims of your parents’ regime, but you also owe it to your own sons. How do you teach them the selflessness of true public service and the value of honesty and of righting of wrongs if you lack the courage to admit the truth? How do you spare your sons the scorn that certainly faces them if your family continues to feel no remorse or regret over the years of dictatorship?

You are nearing your 60s, a senator, and possessed of normal intelligence. You know what it is exactly that you and your family have to be sorry for. History will judge, you say? That is why you must now stop the lies – because precisely, history, and the people you have aggrieved, will judge.

Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation

Download Bantayog's Open Letter to Sen Marcos Jr (PDF)

The following is the full version of the open letter to Sen. Ferdinand 'Bong Bong' Marcos, Jr.

Kapitbisig Noon, at Ngayon

(Here's a Facebook post from Ruben Felipe. Photo by Mike M. Garcia taken at the Bantayog Museum.)
"We are the nameless and all names are ours" -Eman Lacaba

A commemorative photo on the 43rd anniversary of Martial Law. #NeverAgain to Dictatorship #NeverForget Repression #Remember Courage and Heroism in the Philippines!

L-R: Robert Francis Garcia, Eileen Matute, Ruben Felipe, Faith Bacon with Lean Alejandro and countless people who fought for freedom and democracy.

Photo by Mike M. Garcia taken at the Museum of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.

Ang Mamatay Ng Dahil Sa 'Yo Vol. 1 Soft Launch

On August 21, 2015 5PM right after the 29th Annual Membership Meeting of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, we'll be having the soft launch of Ang Mamatay ng Dahil Sa 'Yo: Heroes and martyrs  of the Filipino people in the struggle against dictatorship Vol. 1, a book project in cooperation with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

prev 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220 230 240 250 260 270 280 290 300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400 410 420 430 440 450 460 470 480 490 500 510 520 530 540 550 560 next