‘We Feel It… Martial Law is Back’

Mang Rudy was a founding member of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM or Patriotic Youth), which was formed in 1964, and participated in the First Quarter Storm of 1970. When the Liberal Party opposition rally in Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila was bombed in 1971, Marcos suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and he was among those arrested and detained as a result. He was still in prison when martial law was declared, but was released a year later.

At the Liwasang Bonifacio rally – which later in the afternoon was joined by the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL), Laban ng Masa (The Masses’ Fight), the Union of Masses for Democracy and Justice (UMDJ), the United Opposition (UNO), the Black & White Movement, and the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME or Nationalist Economy Movement) – observations and sentiments similar to theirs were being voiced out by the speakers and performers.

“Notice how Mrs. Arroyo is charting the same path of corruption and repression taken by both Marcos and Thaksin,” Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo said, referring to former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed a few days ago through a coup d’ etat.

“Though there is no martial law declaration, it is just like we are under martial law,” said Joel Cadiz, a leader of the CLCL and a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). “More than 700 have been killed, among them lawyers and journalists. With these, it is like we are under a dictatorship.”

“My former boss appears as though she wants to be the next dictator,” said former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman, one of the so-called “Hyatt 10” cabinet-level officials who resigned from office last year amid renewed allegations of fraud in the 2004 presidential election – where Arroyo is supposed to have won a fresh mandate three years after assuming power through what is now known as the People Power II uprising. “The killings of critics, the filing of sundry charges – all these Marcos did.”

Jess Santiago

All through the rally, the Jess Santiago composition “Martsa ng Bayan” (People’s March) kept playing: “Tayo na at magsama-sama/Sa pagdurog sa imperyalista/Tayo na at magkaisa/Lansagin ang pasistang diktadura/Nasa atin ang tunay na lakas/Tiyak na nasa atin ang bukas…” The song was composed in the 1980s and became an anti-dictatorship classic.

Santiago, still the reed-thin bespectacled man that he was two decades ago but now with his still-long hair graying, would himself stir the crowd – numbering about 10,000 – with a passionate rendition of his song “Halina,” composed 30 years ago and telling tales of a unionist and a peasant slain by state agents, and an urban poor family driven from their “home” near a garbage dump. “Y’ong sinasabi nitong kanta, nangyayari pa rin ngayon” (What the song tells us about is still happening), Santiago told the audience in a calm but emphatic voice.

The late strongman’s eldest daughter, Imee, ranked as 11th among more than 20 political figures in Pulse Asia’s July survey on senatorial preferences – scoring even higher than noted anti-dictatorship fighters like Sen. Joker Arroyo and Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo.

Asked to comment on this, being victims of the Marcos regime, both Aling Miling and Mang Rudy said they didn’t think the particular survey was able to reflect the general pulse accurately enough. They don’t think people have forgotten, they said.

Ewan ko kung talagang mananalo pa ‘yan” (I don’t know if she can really win), Mang Rudy said, referring to Imee who is said to be planning to run for senator next year.

“Habang buhay ang mga biktima, patuloy na isasambulat sa buong mundo: ‘eto ang ginawa sa amin” (While the victims are alive, we will continue to tell the world: this is what was done to us), said Aling Miling. (Bulatlat.com)

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