Moving on. These are only two words, simple to understand yet they carry such immense weight. Why do people insist on moving on from the Martial Law of 1972 declared by the president that time, Ferdinand Marcos?

For better context, what happened on that fateful day? It would be hard to compress all the details of what has brought this event and what the repercussions were but let’s talk about it in brief.

Marcos was first sworn to presidency in the year 1965. Then he was reelected for his second term in 1969. Entering the 70s, Marcos claimed that civil unrest were happening all over the country, prompting him to take action.


Marcos Martial Law


So on the 21st of September, 1972 he declared the whole country – the Philippines in a state of Martial Law or formally known as Proclamation No. 1081. It came as a shock to some because they didn’t see the country in such state of disorder and lawlessness that it warranted a Martial Law to keep matters in order.

When Martial Law is applied, there will be curfews, suspension of civil rights, civil laws, habeas corpus, and military law is used even on civilians. Technically, the intention of Martial Law is to protect the interest of the people when there is major civil unrest and/or disorder caused by a major natural disaster.

Neither incident was present in the early 70s, but still Martial Law was nonetheless implemented. It has curtailed the rights of the Filipinos, media broadcasters, activists, and such. The context of the law was abused.

It became an excuse to take away what people were holding on to, their beliefs. When the fine line between putting things into order and abuse was crossed, freedom has become a thing of the past. Suppression of opinion has become rampant and those who didn’t agree with the government were questioned.

It was the start of the years of oppression, torture, and abuse of the Filipino people. Sadly, while Marcos continued to be the president, the abuse went on. The oppression increased as his power increased.

Along with this power, his properties, acquisitions and other stolen wealth expanded as well. It’s not just the president who flourished that time, his wife Imelda Marcos and children Bongbong and Imee rose with him.

After a long hard fight and lots of bravery from the Filipino people, the Marcos rule ended in 1986. That’s fourteen, long years no one can ever take back. The human rights violations committed can never be undone.

For those fortunate ones who have survived those dark years, they went back to what’s left of their lives. It’s their right to live and carry on with their lives. However, when people insist to just move on and deny the abuse – that’s a whole matter different altogether.

Moving on with the routine of life is different from moving on and forgetting the horrors of the past. You have to live your life but it doesn’t mean you should forget. When you move on to erase what has happened in those long, difficult years – it is disrespecting the memory of those who sacrificed for us.

We have reclaimed democracy in 1986 because of their heroism. Let’s not put their sacrifices into waste. May we never forget what happened during the Martial Law declared in 1972. May we never forget the men and women who fought for us. Let us respect their sacrifices and their memories.


“Declaration of Martial Law,”

Ellen-Rae Cachola, “The Haunting of Martial Law: Records from the Marcos Regime,”, (September 7, 2017).