It was on September 21, 1972 when the late president Ferdinand Marcos appeared on TV to formally declare Martial Law. The said rule lasted for almost a decade, but it wasn’t until 1986 when he was removed from office.
The total control and grip of power under the Marcos administration was heightened by the declaration of Martial Law. The order effectively made the government an institution ruled by just one person. Since then, he has ordered the armed forces and the national police to carry out his policies. Regardless of the constitutionality of those orders, they were implemented anyway.
Looking back at the dark years
The events that happened under Martial Law were part of recorded history. There are clear documentations that prove the extrajudicial killings and repression of the media were not just pulled out of a fictional book.
Once Marcos took the helm of power, he immediately ordered the armed forces to stop any possibility of rebellion. Curfew hours were implemented, and group assemblies and political protests were banned. The worst part was when he ordered private media facilities to be shut down. Only state-run media was allowed at some point during the Martial Law era.
Politicians belonging to the opposition party, even the most prominent people, were rounded up and locked in jail. According to the records of Amnesty International, up to 70,000 people were placed in prison; 34,000 of them were tortured and over 3,000 were killed in a span of 9 years, from 1972 to 1981. Not only were political opponents placed in prison, they were also electrocuted, whipped and strangled. Some others were even burned alive. Those who were forced to speak up but refused, had water poured down their throats. Even women didn’t escape the cruelty of the Martial Law years. There were recorded cases of women who were raped and even had objects lodged on their genitals.
Don’t dare change the story
It is now over four decades ago when Martial Law was declared. A lot of those who have lived through the dark years of the said era are no longer alive to tell their story. The millennials of today were either too young or unborn when Martial Law took place. This is why it is too easy for revisionists to paint a different picture of what happened.
According to some Marcos loyalists, the Martial Law years were the best years of the country. They have even propagated myths of the events that took place during those years even if they didn’t happen. They have also exaggerated the success of the country under the Marcos administration.
It can’t be denied that there were great structures built during Marcos’ reign. His first few years in office also paved the way for the booming of the economy. Let’s give credit where credit is due. However, let us also not overlook other facts if we are talking about the state of the economy under Marcos.
Given his excessive desire to build “world-class” facilities, it paved the way for the sudden rise of the debt incurred by the Philippines. From an already huge amount of $8.2 billion in 1977, it grew to over $24 billion in 1982. Imagine seeing the country’s debt triple within just 5 years.
It doesn’t even include the amount the Marcoses have taken out of the country’s coffers. An estimate total of $5 billion to $10 billion was allegedly stolen during Marcos’ term in office.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was established during the late President Corazon Aquino’s administration, has not yet finished its job of running after the Marcoses and what they have stolen from the country. So far, the agency has collected 170 billion pesos in their efforts to take back what rightfully belongs to the Filipino people.
History doesn’t change overnight
Most of the abuses made by the late President Marcos during his reign were recorded. The PCGG has succeeded in gradually running after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses because they were really stolen from the people. Even former Senator Bongbong Marcos didn’t deny that they are working with the PCGG to forge terms that would allow them to return certain amount to the people.
In short, we have to stop creating a bubble where the Marcoses did great things for the country and the late dictator himself deserved to be a hero. The current administration has succeeded in allowing Marcos to be buried in the “Libingan ng mga Bayani”. Of course, it happened when the people were not aware of it. Just like how he lived, how he was rested was also a product of fraud.
Sure, we are grateful for everything that they have done to make the country better. However, whatever it is that he has contributed has been eroded when he took away billions upon billions of dollars from the country’s coffers.
Yes, he might be the reason why the Philippines were considered a tiger economy in the 70’s. His corrupt practices and improper use of the country’s wealth were major reasons for the Philippine economy to slow down. In fact, we are still reeling from the huge debt that he has left for the next generations to pay.
Believe what you want, but don’t change history
In the end, you can believe what you want to believe. If you want to see the Marcoses as saviors who have placed the country up on a pedestal, you have the right to do so. However, manipulating the story, revising history by turning historical records upside down, is an insult.
Not all of us may have lived through the Martial Law years, but we owe it to our children and their children, to know what really took place during those years. It is not to say that we should never forgive the Marcoses or that the late president’s children can’t hold office. The point is that we must never forget.
As always, history is there to teach us lessons. Not looking back at history will prevent us from moving forward.