There’s been a lot of news from the Philippines lately in both mainstream and social media about the claim of President Rodrigo Duterte that there are groups who are engaged in acts aimed to “destabilize” the government and who are plotting for his ouster.
Should the Filipino people worry? One has to ask this question and take it seriously because whether the threat to the government is real or not, people should not forget the early 70s when President Ferdinand E. Marcos spoke about very similar threats to the government.
Destabilization is the process of upsetting the stability of a system or a government wherein plotters or those engaged in it perform and do acts so the government loses its power or control. Such acts of destabilization also have a huge impact in the nation’s economy and in the confidence of investors to invest in the economy.
President Rodrigo Duterte talked about destabilization when he said the following statement recently--- “Pag ang destabilization ninyo patagilid na at medyo magulo na (Once your destabilization is already creating chaos), I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term, and I will arrest all of you, and we can go to a full-scale war against the Reds”?
The claim of a communist takeover and looming chaos were made by President Ferdinand Marcos when he declared martial law in the Philippines on September 23, 1972. Marcos cited the intensified communist insurgency, violent protests and demonstrations in the streets, the series of bombings, and the “assassination attempt” on his then defense secretary (Juan Ponce Enrile) as the reasons supporting his martial law. Known as Proclamation 1081, Marcos stated that “There is no doubt in everybody’s mind that a state rebellion exists in the Philippines.”
Marcos was clever and cunning. He manufactured and “cooked” the news, conditioned the minds of the public, planned the fake “assassination-attempt” on Enrile, and created the political situation where people were led to believe that only him and his leadership could save the Philippines.
What was in Marcos’ mind during those days? From his own account on September 14, 1972, he wrote the following in his diary:
“After golf, at 9:00 at my room at Pangarap while taking breakfast, I told the SND, C of S, Major Service Commanders (Gen. Ramos, PC, Gen. Zagala, PA, Romando, PAF and Commodore Ruiz, PN) Gen. Ver and Gen. Paranis that I intend to declare martial law to liquidate the communist apparatus, reform our government and society, then have the Concon ratify our acts and the people can confirm it by plebiscite and return to constitutional processes; but that I needed at least one year and two months; that this would be a legitimate exercise of my emergency powers under the constitution as clarified by the Habeas Corpus case by the Supreme Court last January.”
Going back to President Duterte, it appears that he is favoring a “revolutionary government” instead of declaring martial law. “Martial law, re-report report pa ako sa Congress. Mag-declare ako ng revolutionary government, period (With martial law, I will have to do reporting before Congress. I will declare a revolutionary government, period),” he said.
The difference between the situation now compared to Marcos’ time in 1972 is that President Duterte’s own defense secretary and the current leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have stated that they see “no major threat to the administration.” When Marcos declared martial law, his defense secretary and the military establishment went along with Marcos’ claim that there was a “threat to national security” and that martial law was necessary.
It was also easier to control the spread of news, to have censorship, and for the government to have a news blackout in 1972 compared to the present.
Whether the destabilization claim of the president is real or unreal, people should take the statement of the president seriously. Let us not forget our history and what happened during the time of Marcos. Before we can move forward, we have to acknowledge the importance of our past in our present, including the painful experiences and lessons that should never happen again.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.