Remembering the horrors and heroism of martial law

Political Prisoner
Camp Lapu-lapu, Cebu City
September 14, 2012

I join my fellow political prisoners (PPs) in this week-long fasting for all victims and survivors of martial law.

The state of open terror was unleashed by the US-backed Marcos regime 40 years ago. It was a time when a dictator brutalized the Filipino people with widespread human rights violations. Student activists and trade unionists were salvaged. Entire farming communities were hamletted and bombed. The political opposition was arrested en masse and tortured. Intellectuals and professionals were suppressed. It was indeed a horrifying time.

But the declaration of Martial Law was also a time for reaffirmation that the Filipino people need not submit to tyranny. Thousands of students and other intellectuals therefore joined the armed struggle raging in the countryside. Many more went underground to continue their work in the cities and town centers. Soon after, the New People’s Army (NPA) was strengthened, and the legal democratic movement was reinvigorated, providing the necessary inspiration and backbone to the countless protest actions which eventually culminated in the victorious 1986 Edsa uprising.

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The injustice and horrors of martial law however continue to this day. The Marcoses, their cronies and henchmen have not been punished. Meaningful indemnification and restitution have not been done to the victims and survivors of the anti-Martial Law struggle. Worse, all post-Marcos regimes, including the present one, have treaded the same path of anti-people policies not much unlike in essence as those during the martial law period.

Let this week-long fasting and other activities related to the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law be a reminder of the horrors of open fascist rule. Moreso, let this be a a celebration of the heroism of a generation of women and men who courageously and without let-up fought it until the downfall of the dictatorship.

In particular, I wish to mention Marela, the 6-year old survivor of the Hinunangan, Southern Leyte massacre; Evelyn Neri, a university instructor martyred in battle as an NPA; and Fr. Rudy Romano and Rolan ‘Levi’ Ybanez, both disappeared by the military in 1985 for their militant street activism.

Justice for all victims and survivors of martial law!

Defeat all forms of state terrorism!

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