Sat. May 28th, 2022
Let us be careful with semantics as political opportunists take advantage of an uninformed constituency.  Authoritarian does not mean undemocratic. The opposite of authoritarianism is liberalism while the opposite of democracy is dictatorship. The cartoon above by Steven Pabalinas represents an event that happened on February, 1986.

Everytime it’s EDSA season, we hear horror stories perpetuated by the yellow and pink “cancel” culture on their exaggerated depiction of martial law and human rights abuses.

To begin with, I cannot buy their criminalization of Marcos’ declaration of martial law.

If I remember it rightly, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial consonant to the Article VII Section 11, Subsection 2 provision of the Philippine Constitution of 1935 which mandates:

“The President shall be commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”

It was a constitutional and legal act, the motivation of which have been misguided by the noisy opposition party as to extend his term in office. But is generally accepted and well-evident at that time was saving the Republic from the anarchy that was being caused on one hand, by communist terrorist groups who were already “knocking” at the gates of Metro Manila, and on the other hand, Moro secessionist forces in Southern Philippines.

This was not a zarzuela – bombings, attacks with use of deadly firearms, ambushes were claiming lives not just of the military but mostly civilians.

Ask Nonoy Zuniga how he lost one leg and you get a perfect witness of a victim not in the forests of Mindanao but in a comfort room of a five-star hotel in Manila. Ask Victor Corpus if the MV Karagatan (Kishi Maru) was really involved in arms trafficking before it sank at Digoyo Point in Palanan, Isabel, what was his role in it.

MV Karagatan

We can no longer ask Manila Times photographer Ben Roxas about the Plaza Miranda bombing because together with a five-year old kibitzer, he died on the spot.  Nor can we ask Monching Mitra, Jovy Salonga, Eddie Ilarde, Eva-Estrada Kalaw, Gerry Roxas and Serge Osmeña about the extent of their injuries, for while surviving the bombing, they too have aged but now passed. But their eye-witness accounts have been profusely documented by police and media.

Mel Lopez delivering a speech at Plaza Miranda, some minutes                                            before the grenade bombing.

Marcos assumed office on January 1, 1965 under a democratic form of government but may be said to rule as a dictator under martial law for nine years starting September 21, 1972.

Although he only formally decreed the end of martial law on January 17, 1981, he did not disregard the work of the 1970 Constitutional Convention.

The Constitutional Convention led by former President Diosdado Macapagal.
(Left) Concon president swearing in the youngest delegate, Richard Gordon from Zambales. (Right) Macapagal submitting to Marcos the draft Constitution.

320 Con-con delegates who started work on June 1971 approved their draft on November 30, 1972, or two months after start of martial law. Marcos subjected it to a week of plebiscite beginning January 10, 1973.

The 1973 Constitution provided for a tripartite democracy with the legislature converted into a unicameral parliament called the National Assembly which elects from among its members, the President for six-year term, as head-of-state, and the Prime Minister as head of government. The President appoints the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and 14 Associate Justices.

It was first amended in 1976, but an election was called for the election of 165 members of the Legislative Assembly called Batasang Pambansa on April 1978. The President convened the Batasan on June 12, 1978.

Succeeding amendments to the 1973 Constitution were made in 1980 and 81, with minor adjustments in 1984. 

This portion of history has been lost because it shows that while it can be said a Marcos was a dictator for this period, he did not rule absolutely through a military government but governed under the rule of law and offered wide participation to both elected as well as appointed officials in government.  

The Cory dictatorship

But why doesn’t anybody ask what was President Corazon Aquino’s basis for her declaration of martial law in the form of a revolutionary government, that had more deleterious effect because it did not sustain the existing 1973 Constitution? On the contrary, her martial law abolished, nay killed it.

The basis of her declaration of herself as a dictator, was not based on law, but a coup d’etat that installed her despite the fact that she lost the 1986 “snap” presidential election to Marcos.

Aquino’s history writers vaguely refer to her assumption of power as an offshoot of a “people power revolution”. Such is a fakery of the highest form because in order for her to usurp power, the Americans had to kidnap the duly-elected president of the Philippines who won the open 1986 “snap” elections, and take him out of the country to Hawaii to be an exile.

Now we are the ones being accused of revising history.

We are not revisionists. In this next one, we are just balancing the vociferous one-sided depiction and tagging of the 20 years of Marcos, as the period of the worst human rights violations in our history. So why don’t we contrast the public record of presidents Corazon Aquino and his son Noynoy against what they mouth against Marcos?

Between 1986 and 1992, during the 6-year administration of Cory Aquino,

the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) which at that time was the leading non profit human rights organization in the country, documented the following:

  • 816 Desparecidos (the disappeared or victims of enforced disappearances)
  • 135 cases of Massacre, foremost of which are:
  • Black Thursday Mendiola Massacre in Manila, January 22, 1987
  • Lupao Massacre in Nueva Ecija, February 10, 1987
  • Bagtik Massacre in Cebu, November 22, 1988
  • Cawa-Cawa Massacre in Zamboanga, January 5, 1989
  • Rano Massacre in Davao del Sur, June 25, 1989
  • Digos Massacre in Digos City, November 23, 1989, etc.
  • 164 victims of Summary Executions (extrajudicial killings)
  • 20,523 victims of Illegal Arrests and Detention
  • 1.2 million civilian victims of Dislocation due to military operations

For his part, President BS Aquino III was also president for only six years.

Noynoy had his baptism of fire proving his lack of leadership in a hostage-taking of 22 Hongkong tourists at the Luneta in Manila on August 2010, where eight were killed. Proving to be sinophobic, he refused until the end of his term to apologize to China about the incident.

Hostage-taking @ Luneta.

On January, 27, 2016, a few months before the end of his anemic term, Human Rights Watch in its 659-page World Report, said that he is expected not to satisfy his promised goal to significantly improve human rights.

In the first 8 months of 2015, Philippine military and paramilitary groups allegedly killed more than a dozen tribal leaders and tribal community members. Military operations in Mindanao contributed to the displacement of 243,000 indigenous peoples (UNHCR).

Nine journalists were assassinated in 2015 – three of them over 10 days in August. Killings of alleged petty criminals, drug dealers, and others by “death squads” or contract killers in several cities continued unabated.

 Children throughout the Philippines face a wide range of human rights abuses for instance extremely hazardous work in gold mining. Paramilitaries raided several schools, killing a school administrator in August.

In Manila in November, authorities detained hundreds of poor and homeless, among them many children, to clear the capital of street dwellers.

Curiously, the HRWatch did not report President Noynoy’s order to the military to stand down instead of reinforce 44 members of the Special Action Forces who were murdered in cold blood by Moro terrorist fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. and his callous behavior refusing to receive their remains when they were back to Villamor, instead choosing to attend a car plant inauguration.

Arrival honors for 44 Special Action Force members who were massacred in Mamasapano in Mindanao.

Just a few weeks before the end of his term, his incompetence was also evident in the killing of three farmers, in a violent dispersal of demonstrators in North Cotabato who were simply asking for rice to feed their families, after being aroused by the news that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Food Authority were just throwing out rotting rice from their warehouses, in the midst of El Nino.

20 years of Marcos versus 12 Aquino years. What do you think – Were the Aquino presidents human rights defenders at all?

If you compare all three terms against the human rights records of our American colonizers in their “civilizing” of “barbaric indians” in our territory, you will awaken to the fact as to who had been the worst human rights violators in this country.

General J. Franklin Bell estimated that 600,000 Filipinos were killed in the “War of Insurrection” between 1898 and 1902 which the New York Review of Books contested to being 700,000 or 10% of the population.

From 1901 the extension of the Bill of Rights to Filipinos to 1945 their “liberation” of the Philippines, another 250,000 to 300,000 were killed in various massacres, many of whom were casualties of the American military bombings connected with the so-called “liberation” of Manila.

This goes to say, therefore, that in their 40-year occupation the optimum killing of Filipinos under the dirty hands of the Americans could have reached 1 million.

So lets just tell the story best we can cite the facts not improvise fiction.

Bud Dajo Massacre of Pilipino Tausugs by American soldiers, Sulu 1906.

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