Martial Law Revisited
Written By Jes Tirol
Exactly 35 years ago, President Ferdinand Marcos announced on television that he has placed the entire country under martial law by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1081.
Presidential Proclamation 1081 was dated September 21, 1972. By September 22 many people were arrested and the Philippine Congress was closed. Thereafter, Press Secretary Francisco Tatad announced in black and white television the names of the people who were â€œnotoriously undesirable.â€The Antecedent
The few years before the declaration of martial law were turbulent years. Student demonstrations were rampant. Peace and order was in disarray.
The most massive student demonstration in Manila was the so-called â€œFirst Quarter Stormâ€ held on January 20, 1970. It was a turbulent student demonstration where bullets from the METROCOM were answered by pillboxes thrown by the student demonstrators.
The hotbed of student activism was at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus. During that time I was a graduate student taking up my Master in Engineering and was living at the Narra Dormitory within the Diliman Campus.
I was an eyewitness of the so-called â€œBattle of Dilimanâ€ wherein soldiers belonging to the METROCOM battled the activist students during the so-called â€œDiliman Commune.â€ I remembered very well how the students tricked the METROCOM into defeat.
The students poured gasoline on the asphalt road. When the METROCOM riding on their vehicles were on the asphalt road, the students lighted both ends of the road at the same time. It was the first time I knew that the asphalt road would actually burn (Note: asphalt is oil) and with it were burned the trapped vehicles of the METROCOM. The soldiers of course were able to disembark and run away. The helicopters were shot by the students with kwitis (fire-rockets) and one helicopter was actually hit with the kwitis exploding within the helicopter. Luckily the helicopter did not crash.
After one week of fighting, the METROCOM gathered in mass for an attack. The phillboxes of the students were not match to the bullets of the soldiers.
Student activism continued. On September 21, 1971 the rally of the Liberal Party senatorial candidates was bombed with hand grenades where most of the candidates were injured. The political situation was in turmoil.Was Martial Law Justifiable?
When martial law was finally declared on September 23, 1972 the general populace heave a sigh of relief. The imposition of general discipline was a welcomed situation. However, little did the people know that President Marcos had no intention of removing the imposition of martial law.
The second term of President Marcos was about to end. He was prohibited to run for a third term in office.
When the people realized that President Marcos had no intention of relinquishing power, the student activism returned. In fact it was during the imposition of martial law that the newly created Communist Party of the Philippines gathered strength.Riding the Tiger
The situation of President Marcos was similar to the proverbial story of the man who rode the tiger. The man knew that while he was on top of the tiger he was in control. He knew that the moment he will step down he would be eaten by the tiger.
President Marcos made so many enemies. He arrested all the prominent and non-prominent people he perceived to be an opponent. He knew that the moment he will relinquish power he would be devoured by his enemies.
President Marcos chooses to continue riding the tiger until he was thrown down from his perch in February 1986.