The University of the Philippines through a proclamation made by its president
declared September 21stas“A Day of Remembrance.” The proclamation was made to recognize the university’s contributions to the struggle against dictatorship and despotism in the Philippines. The proclamation states—
“September 21, and September 21 of every year hereon as Day of Remembrance throughout the University of the Philippines System, for which I authorize and encourage the holding of special lectures, meetings, and ceremonies devoted to the commemoration of UP’s participation and sacrifice in the struggle against martial law and to the continuing education of our students, faculty, and staff on the importance of academic freedom, civil liberties, and human rights in our society.”
This is a proclamation that other schools and institutions of learning should follow. Filipinos should never forget the evils, abuses, and atrocities that took place during the martial law years.
It was on the morning of September 23, 1972 when the news “blackout” started. There were no radio and television broadcasts and no newspapers came out as well.
We remember September 23 as the “first day” or beginning of martial law as this was the day when military forces implemented a media lockdown and only media outlets associated with Marcos were allowed to function and operate. By the afternoon, Filipinoswere glued to the only telecast onKBS Channel 9 where Marcos’ press secretaryFrancisco Tatad went on the air to read the declaration of martial law (Proclamation No. 1081).I will never forget the face and voice of Marcos that nightwhen he went on the airto formally announcethat the Philippines was under martial law. He said—
“My countrymen, as of the 21st of this month I signed proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under martial law. . . I have proclaimed martial law in accordance with the powers vested in the President by the Constitution of the Philippines. The proclamation of martial law is not a military takeover. I, as your duly elected President of the Republic use this power which may be implemented by the military authorities but still a power embodied in the constitution to protect the Republic of the Philippines and our Democracy.”
The rest is history. From1972 to 1981, Marcos was in power until his ouster in
through the EDSA People Power Revolt in 1986. Martial law resulted in severe political and economic repression, deaths, and many abuses, that later on generated widespread discontent and resistance among the Filipino people.
Fast forward to 2018 and we see powerful forces who seek to erase and revise the dark story and consequences of martial law by resorting to historical revisionism and lies about this dark chapter in our history. There are also people who support and are calling for the return of dictatorship and authoritarian rule in the country. This is scary.
Even during this age of information technology and communication, lies, fake news, and distorted narratives proliferate and are widespread.
We need to make a principled stand against revisionism and these lies. If these liars and revisionists succeed, many of our people, even those who lived in the Philippines during the martial law years, will forget this dark episode in our history. And for the young people who never lived those years, they will be deprived of the lessons that they should know and put to mind, so they can be the first ones to oppose the return of dictatorial rule in the Philippines.
No Filipino leader should follow and emulate Marcos and his abusive rule. Dictatorships and authoritarian rules do not bring progress. They can only bring tons and tons of abuses, economic downturns, and corruption, as dictators are the first ones to violate the law and the rule of law. They and their families are the first ones to steal from the people and become serial kleptocrats.
There is a saying in Pilipino that reminds us that “Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa kanyang paroroonan” (He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never reach his destination.)
Let us not forget the painful lessons of the past. This makes the day of remembrance on September 21st as a day of resistance as well to any attempts to bring backdictatorial rule in the Philippines.
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 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.