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In commemoration of Martial Law, survivors cry for ‘real unity’

3 min readSurvivors of Martial Law seek to use unity—the same maxim used by the Marcos-Duterte tandem during the campaign season—in demanding accountability from the atrocities of the Marcoses.
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Published almost 2 years ago on September 23, 2022

by Justine Xyrah Garcia


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(Photo by Kenneth Cedric Landazabal/TomasinoWeb)


As the country commemorated the 50th anniversary of Martial Law, survivors called for real unity to denounce the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the late dictator's son.

Together with progressive groups and sectors, survivors of the so-called golden age held a protest in Quezon City last Sept. 21, Wednesday, to pay homage to the victims of the Marcos Sr. dictatorship.

After signing Proclamation 1081 on Sept. 21, 1972, the country entered its dark times when Ferdinand Marcos Sr. announced two days after that he was placing the entire Philippines under martial law.

50 years have passed, but the cry continues: Never Again to Martial Law. But for a survivor like Ruben Felipe, condemning is insufficient. Filipinos must also do this unitedly and fight collectively.

"We need to unite on issue-based. Hindi ito labanan ng ideology," Felipe, 62, said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

Survivors of Martial Law seek to use unity --- the same slogan used by the Marcos-Duterte tandem during the campaign season — in demanding accountability from the atrocities of the Marcoses.

"We need to unite just like the old times...kasi nag back to zero tayo," Felipe added.

TABLES HAVE TURNED. Ruben Felipe, 62, gets emotional as he tells how disheartening the country’s current situation is.

Felipe was a student-activist during Martial Law. As a member of Kabataang Makabayan --- a youth organization from the 70s --- he was at the forefront of protests so seeing today's political climate is a bitter pill to swallow.

"Alam mo sa totoo lang, pangarap ko 'yun [to unite the opposition]...It took us 14 years [to topple the dictator]...tinaya ko 'yung buhay ko, tapos ngayon," emotional Felipe said.

The 62-year-old survivor recalled that he was almost jailed thrice but in all those instances, luck was on his side. He managed to escape from state forces and continue marching his way to the streets of Diliman.

But not everyone could be as lucky as Felipe.

Rey, who asked not to use his last name, was also an activist during the Marcos Sr. dictatorship. He was accused as a member of the Communist Party and was put behind bars three days after Martial Law was declared.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb during the inauguration of Marcos Jr. last June, Rey said that the People Power revolution in 1986 became pointless now that the Marcoses are back in power.

"Masakit sa amin 'yan kasi pinaalis mo na 'e, tapos pababalikin mo pa," he added.

FUTILE EFFORT. “Ka Rey” says he feels that their efforts to topple the dictator became useless.

Like Felipe, Rey said that unity was a "key ingredient" in ousting the late dictator. And if people do not want history to repeat itself, then everyone must unite again.

The two are just a tiny part of the hundreds of thousands victims of the Marcos Sr. regime. Although the Marcoses and their supporters dub Martial Law as the country's "golden age," the numbers show otherwise.

During the so-called "golden age," 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed, according to Amnesty International.

'Alingawngaw ng Batas Militar'

"Limampung taong singkad na'y dinig ko ang bawat alingawngaw ng Batas Militar...ang tuloy-tuloy na pagyurak sa mga karapatan," Bonifacio Ilagan, 70, said during his solidarity message addressed to the crowd last Wednesday.

As a torture victim and a brother of a desaparecido, Ilagan stressed the importance for today's generation to continue resisting the Marcos Jr. presidency.

"Sa aking pagtanda [ay] may panawagan [ako] sa bayan at kabataan, 'di dapat matakot. Lagi dapat pag-alabin ang damdaming palaban. Kapit bisig tayong magwawagi," the 70-year-old ML survivor said.

"Iyang alingawngaw ng limampung taon ay lulunurin natin sa sigaw ng paglaban. Makibaka, huwag matakot," Ilagan added.

A series of protests and programs were done across the country last Sept. 21 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.

Filipinos based in New York also held a protest in front of the Philippine consulate where Marcos Jr. had his international debut as the country's president.

But just like the University, Marcos Jr. and his whole family remained silent throughout the day.

Martial Law

Ferdinand Marcos Sr.


University of Santo Tomas

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Justine Xyrah Garcia

Executive Editor

Justine Xyrah Garcia was the Executive Editor of TomasinoWeb. With more than nine years of experience in journalism, Xyrah has covered a wide range of topics including university and national politics, activism, religion, civic, and education. Throughout her career, she has also written for both campus and local press such as Rappler, The National Guilder, The Lycean Pioneer, and D'Dionisians. Xyrah's passion for journalism began in 2014. Since then, she has devoted most of her time writing stories for and with the people. Outside of work, Xyrah is a film enthusiast. When she is not typing on her laptop, you will most likely find her watching a local indie film while sipping her favorite cup of iced matcha. She also enjoys taking street photographs; you might bump into her while walking in the busy streets of Manila.


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