Never forget | Thousands march in UP to mark 50 years of Marcos Sr.’s martial law

Photo by Jose Santos/Bulatlat

“Ang pagbabaluktot sa kasaysayan ay pagwasak sa bayan.” (Distorting history wrecks the nation)


MANILA – “Never again! Never forget!”

This was the repeated call of the at least three thousand who gathered yesterday, Sept. 21, to mark the 50th year since Ferdinand Marcos Sr. imposed martial law.

Titled “Singkwento: Mga Kanta at Kwento Tungkol sa Martial Law,” survivors of the martial law and human rights defenders gathered at the University of the Philippines – Diliman to renew their commitment against historical distortion.

The program began with video clip of Marcos Sr. declaring martial law, giving the audience a feel of what it was like to live during the dark days of his presidency.

Limangpung taong singkad na, ngunit ngayo’y ulinig pa rin ang panangis ng babaeng ginahasa, nagpapalahaw sa kalapit silid habang ako’y bulagta na. Mukha ng kung sino’y nakalublob sa inidorong ihian,” said martial law survivor and award-winning writer Bonifacio Ilagan.

(Fifty years have already passed but I can still hear the cries of anguish of a woman being raped in an adjacent room, and another victim’s face being submerged in a soiled toilet bowl, while I already laying half-conscious due to the torture done to us.)

Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil/Bulatlat

Human rights groups have recorded massive corruption and human rights violations under Marcos Sr., with thousands of people either arrested, tortured, and killed by state forces.

It is okay to remember

Historian Xiao Chua underscored the importance of remembering the past.

Ang pagbabaluktod sa kasaysayan ay pagwasak sa bayan, sapagkat ang gawain ng pagkukwento ng kasaysayan ay gawain ng pakikipagkapwa tao. Ibig sabihin ito ay gawain upang mag-improve, umunlad ang bayan dahil natuto sa pagkakamali,” (Distorting history wrecks the nation, because the act of communicating history is a basic social function. Learning from the past wrongs helps improve society, develop the nation) he said.

Kalahating Siglo ng Daluyong, a mural paying tribute to martyrs and heroes against the dictatorship by different visual artists. (Photo by Anne Anne Marxze Umil/Bulatlat)

Meanwhile, We Forum and Malaya’s general manager Edith Burgos and National Union of Journalists in the Philippines secretary general Ronalyn Olea drew parallelism of how the media was repressed then and now.

“Today, September 21, 2022, we declare that we will continue the fight for press freedom and the people’s right to access information. Despite the limited resources, despite threats, we will carry on because we have the people’s support. We will carry on because, along with the people, the truth will always prevail. Together let us seek to live the truth and share a vision,” they said.

‘People will prevail’

For political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa, any attempts to rehabilitate and replicate the Marcos dictatorship will fail because the Filipino people will never allow a repeat of martial law as history would show resistance of the people from Mactan to the 1898 Revolution, to resistance against the martial law regime to the present.

They said this “proves that our people shall eventually prevail over attempts to fully rehabilitate and replicate the US-Marcos dictatorship.”

Photo by Josa Santos/Bulatlat

They cited what they call as Marcos’ full-blown fascist rule which “wrought intolerable exploitation, oppression and untold suffering on the people, (pushed) them to resist and fight back in all ways possible.”

Repression resulted in the “spread and growth, rather than decimation and defeat, of the broad anti-fascist movement, the legal national democratic movement, and armed resistance led by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, the Moro National Liberation Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and others.”

“This historical insight is especially significant in current times because despite the restoration of formal democratic institutions and processes when the dictatorship ended in 1986, fascist rule and grave human rights violations persisted through all post-Marcos regimes, even without a formal declaration of martial law,” they said, adding the rights violations under then Presidents Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo and Rodrigo Duterte.

Among political prisoners who signed the statement were peace consultants Rey Casambre, Frank Fernandez, Reynante Gamara, Vicente Ladlad, Edisel Legaspi, Adelberto Silva, and other political prisoners of Metro Manila District Jail Annex 4, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Photo by Jose Santos/Bulatlat

No more terror-tagging

Meanwhile, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said Marcosian mentality continues to exist. He said that those who went underground to fight the dictatorship were being vilified.

“We believe that revolutionaries who fought the dictatorship are heroes, not terrorists. They sacrificed their lives to defeat martial law,” he said in Filipino.

Reyes said that as long as there is oppression and exploitation, they will continue to fight no matter how many times martial law would be declared.

“Let us not be cowed. We are on the right side of history. We will continue to fight for the country. In the midst of lies and oppression, our call remains – we will struggle on,” Reyes said. (JJE,RVO) (

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