Youth groups lead protest marking 47th anniversary of Martial Law

Jaia Yap

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Youth groups lead protest marking 47th anniversary of Martial Law
With members of the Marcos family in top government posts and an increasing number of attacks against government critics, youth groups unite to ensure succeeding generations remember the horrors of martial law

MANILA, Philippines – Showing a strong stance against injustices and a looming dictatorship, youth groups are leading a multi-sectoral front that will hold on Friday, September 20, a nationally coordinated protest to never forget the horrors of martial law.

The protest will mark the 47th anniversary of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

The protest action, which will happen in Luneta at 3 pm, calls for resistance against what the multi-sectoral front sees as increasing state repression under the current administration: from the red-tagging of activists and the harassment of student journalists, to the militarization of countryside communities and schools.

Youth against martial rule

Youth groups such as One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy, University of the Philippines Manila University Student Council (UPM USC), Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, Anakbayan and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) are spearheading this year’s united protest.

At a time when the family of the ousted strongman has taken top government posts, and militarization under President Duterte is intensifying, the groups see the need for the youth to make sure that succeeding generations will remember the horrors of martial law and continue to resist authoritarian rule.

According to Youth Act Now Against Tyranny’s Raoul Manuel, co-convener of the youth coalition leading the action, the anniversary of the declaration of martial law should be observed with a protest because the horrors of a strongman rule should never happen again. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

“We are now ruled by a government that silences critics and opposition so it can hide its wrongdoings: it sells our country to China, prioritizes budget for war and pork barrel over social services, and dooms our workers and farmers to suffering,” said Manuel during a press briefing with leaders of civil society and faith-based organizations in Intramuros, Manila on Monday, September 16. 

Citing not only alleged political harassment towards young activists, but also the encroachment of police and army forces into schools, co-convener Anakbayan National Spokesperson Alex Danday added that any plan to quell dissent and restore dictatorship will be met with democratic resistance.

Tatandaan po natin na walang diktador na nagtagumpay sa ating bayan. Lahat ng diktador sa ating bayan ay pinulot sa basurahan ng kasaysayan(Let us remember that no dictator has succeeded over our nation. All of our dictators have ended up in the dustbin of history),” said Danday. 

Through a manifesto of unity, youth groups pledged to take part in the protest and urged fellow Filipinos to do the same.

“Our future as a country can only be sustained if we, the young generation, are taught to fight for, and not to compromise, the values that make for a great nation,” the groups’ youth leaders said in the manifesto. 

Coming together

Aside from the youth, various groups under the United People’s Action coalition will join the protest of different sectors against authoritarian rule. The group said labor, human rights and faith-based groups continue to be persecuted and even killed because of their dissent against what they see as oppressive policies.

Among the notable figures supporting the united protest is former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Makabayan’s Neri Colmenares.

Forgetting the truth destroys any nation,” said Sereno. Our young leaders do well by leading Philippine society in recalling the dismal days of Marcos Martial Law, when unchecked abuse of power led to the rise of criminality, brazen disregard of the rule of law, and the unabashed outrage of democracy.”

Other groups under the multi-sectoral front will conduct their own programs within Metro Manila in the morning and early afternoon of September 20, before heading towards the main mobilization in Luneta at 3 pm.

On top of the Luneta-bound protest actions in Metro Manila, the multi-sectoral coalition will also be staging satellite mobilizations in key cities such as Baguio, Angeles City, Tarlac City, Los Baños, Tacloban, Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao.

Those interested in joining the protests are urged to wear

Jaia Yap is a Rappler intern with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @jaiayap.


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