21 September of 1972 –  Incumbent president that time, Ferdinand Marcos released Proclamation 1081, declaring Martial Law all over the country, the Philippines. Marcos’ claim for imposing this extreme measure was due to the alleged civil unrest occurring at the country that time.

This declaration was a shock to some as what was happening didn’t warrant an issuance of Martial Law.  It was seen as an unnecessary caution as the country wasn’t that in such turmoil that time. Ironically, the country was plunged into deeper depths of trouble after Martial Law was implemented.

What does happen when Martial Law is declared anyway? Civil rights and laws are suspended and military rule is even used for civilians. However, with the Martial of 1972 – it crossed from protecting the people to actually harming the citizens.

Those in power used it as their license to do whatever they want. They have increased their power and wealth through Martial Law and never mind that people were abused and tortured along the way.

The media outlets were silenced, criticizing the government is equivalent to punishment – the people’s rights and freedom were stripped off, human rights were violated.

However, there were some Filipinos that time who bravely put themselves out there when most people were too afraid to do so.

Let’s not forget about Liliosa Hilao. Lilli, her nickname was an honor student from grade school to highschool. She then entered PLM (Pamantasang ng Lungsod ng Maynila) as a Communication Arts major. She even went on to be the editor in chief of the school’s paper, “Hasik”.


Liliosa Hilao


She’s also the leader of the communication arts department and a representative to the student government of PLM. Not only that, she became a secretary of the Women’s Club of Pamantasan and a member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.

From that, we can say she was an active student and a leader. From that point, you would have imagined that she would have a bright future ahead of her.

However, Hilao openly criticized the Marcos government that time – a practice that’s not considered as an offense. It didn’t break any laws. She was asthmatic and was not able to join the rallies but she had other means to show her opinion – through her words. And that surely caught the attention of the Marcos administration.

Not for long, Hilao was taken away from her home on April 1973 without a warrant of arrest. They illegally arrested Hilao and that would be the last time she saw her home.

The soldiers who took Hilao slapped her, handcuffed, and questioned her. And the abuse didn’t just stop at that. The following day she passed away. The report they released was – Hilao committed suicide using muriatic acid.

When they say Hilao’s body – her face was swollen, there were bruises all over her torso, she had cigarette burns on her lips, multiple injection marks, even the handcuffs made their mark against her skin.

Just because she spoke against the government – an act not worthy of this abuse. This is outright human rights violation. She was the first female who was illegally detained and died during the Martial Law.

And it didn’t end with Liliosa Hilao. A lot more deaths and tortures went on just because these brave people voiced out their opinions. Saying this Martial Law benefited the country is a stretch, a very far stretch.

Was it worth it that these people, even young people died because of the Martial Law? They certainly didn’t deserve to die at all.


Vberni Regalado, “The young victims of Martial Law,” http://www.philstar.com/campus/2017/09/21/1741305/young-victims-martial-law, (September 21, 2017).

Kate Pedroso, Marielle Medina, “Liliosa Hilao: First Martial Law detainee killed,”
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/718061/liliosa-hilao-first-martial-law-detainee-killed, (September 1, 2015).