“We ousted a dictator before. We can do it again!” – Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda)
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Martial law victims commemorated the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus 43 years ago in a protest action outside President Aquino’s house in Times Street, Quezon City, and denounced how he is “doing a Marcos.”
“We remain vigilant and defiant to any sitting president who pretends to be pro-people, pro-democracy and patriotic,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda).
“The country’s situation has not significantly changed from the time of former dictator Marcos up to Noynoy Aquino’s administration. The country remains under the shackles of corruption, subservience to U.S. imperialist policies and state repression.”
On August 21, 1971, strongman Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus after a bombing at the Liberal Party’s proclamation rally in Plaza Miranda, where scores were injured. Marcos framed the bombing on his opponents and the communist movement. The writ suspension paved the way for Marcos’s declaration of martial law in 1972.
Today is also the 31st year of the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and has been declared as a special non-working holiday by the government. Ninoy, the president’s father and a vocal Marcos’ opponent, was shot dead on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport in 1983.
The irony was not lost on the victims of martial law. In his latest interview, President Noynoy Aquino said he is open to charter change, to clipping the powers of the Supreme Court and to a second term.
“Now, Noynoy Aquino wants to perpetuate himself in power by amending the Philippine Constitution and clipping the powers of the judiciary. His regime is set on further selling out the national patrimony. Noynoy Aquino is doing a Marcos,” Enriquez said.
About 20 protesters managed to gather in front of Aquino’s house despite the presence of nearly 50 police who arrived early to secure the place. After about five minutes, the police charged and started pushing the protesters, most of whom are elderly, survivors of martial law.
“There is no need to push us. We are already retreating,” one of the protesters retorted.
“We have a coward president,” another shouted.
Enriquez, an activist and political prisoner during martial law, said during the program that “Aquino’s isolation from the people he is supposed to rule is reminiscent of how Marcos was during the days of the martial law.”
The Martial law activists reminded Aquino that his father fought the dictator Marcos, who was eventually deposed by the determined resistance of the Filipino masses.
“The Filipino people opposed the fascist, bureaucrat-capitalist and pro-imperialist Marcos regime long before the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, and long before martial law was declared,” Enriquez said.