Martial Law anniversary protests: Millennials own the fight

Danielle Nakpil

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Martial Law anniversary protests: Millennials own the fight
Young people show up at protest rallies across the country on September 21 to stand up and fight for human rights and freedoms for their generation

MANILA, Philippines – Every generation has faced its giants. There was a generation that fought and survived the martial law regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Today’s Filipino millennials, under the Duterte administration, see the country in trying times again, facing giants not much different from Marcos’ time: martial law, killings, violation of human rights, supression of the truth via fake information, among others. 

On Thursday, September 21, the 45th anniversary of Marcos’ martial, they made sure they showed up by the thousands on the streets of Manila and other key cities to show to remind the public of the atrocities committed during Martial Law, and sound the alarm against a repeat of these abuses now. 

At the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, UP martial law heroes were remembered through the Gunita at Kampana event. Former University Student Council chairman Chito Gascon, who is now chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said: “We live in interesting times. These are interesting times.”

Millennials recognized that. 

Fighting for the future

At the Luneta Park in Manila, Seve Carlosl, an Ateneo de Manila University sophomore, wore black – the color of protest – and chanted slogans with the crowd. 

“I’m here today because I want to be able to see my kids and tell them face to face that I am one of the people who fought for their rights,” said the communication arts student. 

Seve Carlos, a sophomore student at Ateneo de Manila University

“I don’t want my kids to live in the future where they’re scared to ask permission, scared whenever they go to school. I want them to live a safe life,” he said. 

According to him, peace and safety are impossible to achieve with this kind of administration the country has at present. 

Tristan Ortega, his friend, added that killing innocent people is not just against the law. It is against morality.

For the sake of ‘my countrymen’

“Ngayon ipinapakita ko na kasama kami sa mga kumikilos bilang isang kabataan. Naaapektuhan ako ng mga nangyayari sa ating lipunan kaya nararapat lang na kumilos para sa ikabubuti ng nakararami,” said Miriam King, a St. Scholastica’s College student.

(I am here to show that I am one young person who takes a stand. I am affected by everything that’s happening in our society, that’s why we should act now for the welfare of everyone.) 

The Scholastican went to the protest in Luneta with some of her classmates and teachers.

Another student, who believes that going out in the streets is a statement, to call for the protection of  the rights of his countrymen.

“We are here to protect our human rights, especially the rights of the poor people,” said Ira del Mar of Enderun Colleges.

‘Never Again’ 

According to UP student Ice Punzalan, he is fighting so that no young person will experience martial law again.

Ice Punzalan, a student-activist from University of the Philippines

“Handang-handa din ngayon ang ating mga Iskolar ng Bayan na ipagpatuloy ito. Gawin muli para hindi na maulit ang madilim na kasaysayan na ating naransan noong Batas Militar ni Marcos,” he said.

(The scholars of the country are prepared to continue this legacy [of fighting for rights and freedoms] to prevent history from repeating itself, especially what happened during martial law.) 

“No’ng nakita ko ang realidad at kapalpakan, ‘yong mismong lipunan na kinabibilangan natin, sukang suka na ako at galit na galit,” said the 3rd year speech communication student. (When I became aware of the reality and the society we live in, it disgusted and angered me.)


He urged other young people to fight the possible extension of Duterte’s martial law to cover the entire country. Martial law is up in Mindanao due the terrorist attack on Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. (READ: Human rights groups: ‘Martial law in entire nation not impossible’)

These young people at Thursday’s rallies are just a few voices but they were brave enough to speak up. What are you willing to speak about? –

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