AS various groups of protesters marched on the streets of Metro Manila on Friday, Sept. 21, to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, Malacañang said that the situation is different now and that the Martial Law that is currently in force in Mindanao will not be extended to the rest of the country.
The comments came in the wake of accusations by the president that there are efforts to destabilize his administration.
While rallies were being held on Friday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte flew to Naga City in Cebu to visit the landslide victims there.
Speaking in a radio interview on Friday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. assured the public that the martial law in Mindanao will not be extended to “Luzon and Visayas.”
“Wala pong dahilan para mag-Martial Law sa Luzon at Visayas (There is no reason [for the President] to declare martial law in Luzon and Visayas),” Mr. Roque said.
He added: “Pero malinaw na malinaw naman po na bagama’t mayroong martial law diyan sa Mindanao, kakaiba po ang mga nangyayari diyan. Itong martial law po sa Mindanao, hinihingi ng taumbayan sa Mindanao. Hindi po kagaya ng Martial Law ng nakalipas na talaga naman pong ginamit para supilin ang karapatang pantao.”
(However, it is very clear that although there is Martial Law in Mindanao, the situation there is different. This Martial Law in Mindanao was requested by the people there. It is not similar to the Martial Law in the past, which was used to curtail human rights.)
Mr. Duterte has said that there are efforts from the opposition to destabilize his administration, naming the Liberal Party, the Magdalo group of Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, and the Communist Party of the Philippines. But Mr. Roque said, “It’s not anything that the state cannot deal with; dream on to those who want to remove the President.”
During the radio interview, Mr. Roque noted the importance of taking cognizance of Marcos’s Martial Law.
“[K]inakailangan po talagang gunitain iyan [Martial Law] dahil ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paruroonan, ’no,” said Mr. Roque on radio, quoting National Hero Jose Rizal.
(We should really remember Martial Law because the one who does not look at where he came from will not arrive at his destination.)
“Sa atin, po, alalahanin natin na kapag ang isang namumuno ay walang mandato at nagpilit na manatili sa puwesto, talagang malalabag po ang demokrasya (We have to remember that once a leader has no mandate and insists on remaining in power, that really violates democracy),” Mr. Roque said, taking pains on pointing out that Mr. Duterte has the mandate of the people.
“Ang Presidente ay mayroon pong mandato; hindi gaya noong panahon na ang Martial Law ay dineklara noon Sept. 21, 40 plus years ago, na ang ating dating Presidente ay nawalan na ng mandato. So iyan po ang napakalaking pagkakaiba. Ang taumbayan po ay mag-aalsa kapag hindi po natupad ang demokrasya; ang ating pangulong po ay producto nang demokraska,” he explained.
(President Duterte has a mandate; not like back in the time when Martial Law was declared on Sept. 21, 40 plus years ago, when our former president lost his mandate. So that is the big difference. The people would revolt if democracy was not carried out; our president is a product of democracy.)
JPE JUSTIFIES MARTIAL LAW
Meanwhile, the night before the anniversary, the son and namesake of the late dictator Marcos released a video of a conversation between himself and former senate president Juan F. Ponce Enrile, Sr. who was his late father’s Defense minister.
In his official Facebook page, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. posted a video titled “JPE: A Witness to History.” He said, “Watch former senate president Juan Ponce Enrile give us a detailed account of the events that led to the declaration of Martial Law.”
In the video, Mr. Enrile said the claims that “70,000” people were “arrested” during the martial law era are “not true.”
“Maybe if they will include people who violated curfew and jaywalkers, maybe you can reach that number. Of course, if you are a member of the rebel group or a warlord or someone who violated criminal law, you had to be arrested whether you have Martial Law or not,” he explained.
Sought for comment during a press briefing at the Palace on Friday morning, former Senate president Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. said: “Siguro nakalimutan na niya ako (Maybe, he [Mr. Enrile] has already forgotten about me). That’s part of aging.”
Mr. Pimentel — “who opposed” Mr. Marcos — “was arrested in early 1973 and jailed for three months at the Camp Crame,” according to his profile on the Senate’s Web site.
“He was released from prison in time for the signing of the Constitution. Uncowed by his incarceration, Pimentel refused to sign, along with a few other delegates [to the Constitutional Convention]. In the climate of fear of the martial law era, this was a bold move and it widened his repute as an oppositionist,” his profile reads.
“The attempt of people to revise it [the history], that’s their right, that’s freedom under a democracy,” said Mr. Pimentel. “There is nga freedom of expression and freedom of pushing for views that may not be acceptable to the rest of the nation. But it is also up to those who know better to repudiate kung ano iyong sinusulong (what is being pushed). Huwag naman pabayaan lang — iyon ang importante (But do not let it go — that is important).”
Mr. Enrile claimed as well that Mr. Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972 because “there was a working coalition between the Liberal party and the New Peoples Army-Communist Party of the Philippines led by (Jose Maria) Sison at this point.” He added: “The President realized that the country was too fragile, and that it has very limited capability to contain the problem.”
On whether it was a formal agreement, Mr. Enrile said: “Yes. I met with Ninoy Aquino in the house of Ramon Silay. Paul Aquino is still alive. He was the one who reported that to me.”
In a statement, Senator and Liberal Party president Francis N. Pangilinan said: “That was the lie peddled by Marcos to justify his desire to perpetuate himself in power to include the staging of Enrile’s fake ambush, which he himself admitted to during the onset of the EDSA People Power uprising.
“The Marcos dictatorship legalized plunder, bringing hunger and misery to our people. Data shows that a huge part of Marcos’s downfall was how low the economy plunged,” Mr. Pangilinan added.
He also said that “today, on the 46th year of Martial Law declaration, we must remember: the dictatorship almost destroyed our economy, and we are still paying the price for that catastrophe. We cannot let that happen again.”
For his part, Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said: “Let us remember the thousands of desaparecidos and fallen heroes who fought against the oppressive reign of the Marcos regime. Let us learn from our history so that these dark days will not be repeated.” — Arlay L. Balinbin