Sunday, September 20, 2015

Martial Law (Proclamation No. 1081)

By Anton Antonio
September 21, 2015

As teenaged-kids during the Martial Law era, most of us lost our basic freedoms and, a lot of us also say that, we also lost our youthful exuberance (meaning: the quality of being full of energy, excitement and cheerfulness) and creativity.  Everything was being stage-managed and all we ever did was follow blindly… if only to live with the semblance of normalcy.  There was no freedom in terms of speech and assembly… relegating us to robotic existence.  It was a period when we lived in constant fear from a repressive military establishment bestowed with limitless power by the civil government.  I really could go on and on with a litany of whine about Martial Law but this will only be interpreted as bias.  Having said this, please allow me to post Wikipedia accounts of Martial Law and Proclamation No. 1081…

“Martial law in the Philippines refers to several intermittent periods in Philippine history wherein the Philippine head of state (such as the President) proclaims that an area is placed under the control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  Martial law is declared either when there is near-violent civil unrest or in cases of major natural disasters, however most countries use a different legal construct like “state of emergency”.  Typically, the imposition of martial law accompanies curfews, the suspension of civil law, civil rights, habeas corpus, and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians.  Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunals (court-martial).  In a privilege speech before the Senate, Benigno Aquino, Jr. warned the public of the possible establishment of a “garrison state” by President Ferdinand Marcos.  President Marcos imposed martial law on the nation from 1972 to 1981 to suppress increasing civil strife and the threat of a communist takeover following a series of bombings in Manila.  On 21 August 1971, while the opposition (Liberal Party) was having their miting de avance in Plaza Miranda, two fragmentation grenades exploded.  It took 9 lives and left more than 100 people seriously wounded.  Some Liberal Party candidates were seriously injured including Jovito Salonga, who nearly died and was visually impaired.  Suspicion of responsibility for the blast initially fell upon Marcos, whom the Liberals blamed for the bombing; however, in later years, prominent personalities associated with the event have laid the blame on the Communist Party of the Philippines under Jose Maria Sison.  In his autobiography, Salonga states his belief that Sison and the CPP were responsible.  A month of “terrorist bombing” of public facilities in Manila and Quezon City culminated on 22 September with a staged assassination attempt on Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile.  Claiming chaos and lawlessness was near, Marcos declared martial law, thereby suspending the 1935 Constitution, dissolving Congress, and assuming absolute power.  Six hours after the Enrile assassination attempt, Marcos responded with the imposition of martial law.  Proclamation No, 1081 which imposed martial law was dated 21 September 1972, but it was actually signed on 17 September.  The formal announcement of the proclamation was made only at seven-thirty in the evening of 23 September, about twenty-two hours after he had commanded his military collaborators to start arresting his political opponents and close down all media and retail (fashion, food, religious, sports) establishments.  The Proclamation read in part: “My countrymen, as of the twenty-first of this month, I signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law…”The declaration of martial law was initially well received by some segments of the people but became unpopular as excesses and human rights abuses by the military emerged.  Torture was used in extracting information from their enemies.  Martial law was lifted by President Marcos on January 17, 1981.  In the following years there was the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983, the Snap Elections of 1986 and the People Power Revolution or EDSA Revolution in 1986 which led to Marcos, with the advice from the U.S. government, left the country and Cory Aquino became president.” (Wikipedia)

“Proclamation No. 1081 was the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.  It became effective throughout the entire country on 23 September 1972, and was announced to the public two days later.  It was formally lifted on 17 January 1981 – six months before the first presidential election in the Philippines in twelve years.  Under the pretext of an assassination of then-Defence Secretary (now Senator) Juan Ponce Enrile and an ensuing Communist insurgency.  President Marcos enacted the Proclamation that he might be able to rule by military power.  He initially signed Proclamation on 17 September 1972, but it was postdated to 21 September because Marcos’ superstitions and numerological beliefs.  Marcos formally announced the Proclamation in a live television and radio broadcast from Malacanang Palace a further two days later on the evening of 23 September 1972.  The following year, President Marcos replaced the 1935 Constitution with a new one that changed the system of government from a presidential to a parliamentary one, with himself remaining in power as both head of state (with the title “President”) and head of government (titled “Prime Minister”).  President Marcos also manipulated elections and had his political coalition – the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan – control the unicameral legislature he created, known as the Batasang Pambansa.  President Marcos formally lifted Martial Law on 17 January 1981, several weeks before the first pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines for the beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz.”  (Wikipedia)

The unbiased Wikipedia narratives somewhat describes the atmosphere and environment during the Martial Law period without overly being emotional about it.  Perhaps, the question to ask is: “What have we learned or should have learned from this period in our history?”  This question is for the sole purpose of warning all of us that having learned nothing from this experience will only cause us to make the same mistakes in the future.  Then we have not seen the last of Martial Law and Proclamation No. 1081.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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Wikipedia, (2015). “Martial Law in the Philippines”.  Retrieved on September 21, 2015 from

Wikipedia, (2015). “Proclamation No. 1081”. Retrieved on September 21, 2015 from

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