At this age of technology, we would assume that we have everything at the tips of our fingertips. A few taps and scrolls and we get to purchase things, know more about background stories, widen our knowledge, and such.
The internet is full of information. And we should choose to know, choose to understand, choose to research. With technology at our advantage, we have no excuse in not knowing. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power.
Let’s talk about the Martial Law of 1972. These days, it’s quite sad that this event and what it had led to is being trivialized. “Why would I concern myself with an event that has happened decades ago? Why would should I remember an event that has happened way before I was born?”. A few of the questions one might ask in regard to Martial Law.
Before we answer those questions, let’s look back at history and know what has transpired first. It was the 21st of September 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos, the then-president declared Martial Law over the whole country. He was elected as president in 1965, and he was on his way towards his 7th year in presidency that time.
According to Marcos the country was in a state of disarray that time. He claimed that there were a lot of cases of civil unrest and Martial Law can protect the country from this chaos. From 1972, his rule extended up to 1986.
When Martial law is declared – civil laws, civil rights, habeas corpus are suspended and military rule is extended to civilians even. There was little room for freedom that time. Opposing views regarding the government was not well-tolerated.
Case in point, Liliosa Hilao. She was vocal on her opinions regarding the government and she was the editor-in-chief of PLM’s (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s) school publication. One day in April 1973, she was illegally arrested in her own home.
Unfortunately, she was never seen alive again after that. She was murdered and her body exhibited signs of abuse. Lilli was the first of many who was detained and killed.
Marcos’ reported annual income didn’t exceed $13,500 but through the years their spending exceeded that value. His wife Imelda had a penchant for beautiful things and was not shy about her purchases.
By the end of Martial Law, she has acquired her infamous collection of shoes, gowns, handbags, jewelries, and even artworks such as masterpieces from Claude Monet.
The government after Marcos’ rule estimates that the total amount of the ill-gotten wealth is at USD 10 billion. Martial Law increased Marcos’ power and gave himself access to the coffers of the government.
Marcos benefited from the coco levy funds, taxes that were paid by hard working coconut farmers. He controlled the coconut and sugar industries. He took over large public and private companies and investing the funds he got into shares and real estate. Some of the funds were stored away from the Philippines, in Swiss deposit banks.
Going back to the earlier questions, is it right to forget when people have sacrificed and died? Is it right to turn a blind eye when someone stole from the coffers of the country?
Whichever angle you look at it, it will never be right. It’s not justifiable. Forgetting means to disrespect and condone such acts. Understanding and knowing what happened means to never forget.
Ana Roa, “Regime of Marcoses, cronies, kleptocracy,” http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/641277/regime-of-marcoses-cronies-kleptocracy, (September 29, 2014).
Nick Davies, “The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/10bn-dollar-question-marcos-millions-nick-davies, (May 7, 2016).