Nearly half a century after the Philippines was placed under military rule, opposition figures challenged Filipinos to keep resisting authoritarian leaders, from the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to the incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte.
Various groups said the 48th anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, serves as a reminder that atrocities continue to this day.
Critics have long argued that Duterte is following the dictator’s playbook of Marcos, whose family members are known close allies of the President.
Martial Law under Marcos is considered to be the darkest years of post-colonial Philippines, with Amnesty International estimating that about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed when the dictator was in power.
The Marcoses also stole billions from Filipino taxpayers, with various estimates pegging the amount between $5 billion and $10 billion. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Just how bad was corruption during the Marcos years?)
Though Duterte has not formally declared martial law nationwide, the opposition has accused him of using the powers of the state to erode institutions, crack down on government dissenters, and curtail press freedom. (WATCH: The dangers of the Anti-Terrorism Law)
Duterte’s administration has also become notorious for alleged abuses under his bloody war on drugs, where official data showed at least 7,884 have been killed in police operations as of August 31, 2020. (READ: 4 years on, climate of fear and impunity blocks justice for Duterte’s drug war victims)
The number, however, excludes victims of vigilante-style killings, which human rights groups estimate to have already reached more than 27,000.
Here are statements of opposition figures and groups on the 48th anniversary of Martial Law:
Senator Leila de Lima
“As we commemorate the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, we do not just recall the atrocities under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, we also express our continued condemnation of a tyrannical regime that has plundered our nation; we seek justice for the victims of torture, enforced disappearances, and murder at the hands of an ignominious leader.”
“Pagbabalik-tanaw. Paggunita. Pagsariwa. Pag-alala. Paulit-ulit natin itong gagawin upang hindi makalimot…. Ang ating sama-samang panawagan: Tama na, Duterte, sobra ka na!”
(Looking back. Reminiscing. Memorializing. Remembering. We will always repeat this so that we will not forget…. Our unified call: Enough, Duterte, this is too much!)
Laban ng Masa
“Today, the threat of dictatorship again looms large. The eyes of many of our compatriots, however, have now been opened to the dark intentions of the Duterte regime. Instrumental in making our people understand this has been the glaring contrast between the gross incompetence the administration has displayed in protecting the country from COVID-19 and the swift and drastic moves it has made to institute the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act, destroy ABS-CBN, and convict dissenting journalists.”
“Containing COVID-19 is not Duterte’s priority. His priority is monopolizing political power. He will not succeed because our people stand in the way.”
“Marcos was a dictator. It is a fact. The torture, murder, and plunder that were all committed under Martial Law happened. They were all historically documented, recorded, and recognized worldwide. They are not subject for debate, interpretation, or deconstruction. They are beyond contestation. No less than the Philippine state recognizes these facts. Through the passage of the Marcos Compensation Law and the granting of reparation for the thousands of victims of Martial Law, the state officially and fully recognizes the atrocities of the Marcos years.”
“Not even Mr Rodrigo Duterte, a self-confessed Marcos apologist and fake news super spreader, can eradicate the Marcoses’ dark legacy. Not a thousand hero’s burials and dictator holidays, not even Mr Duterte’s paid army of social media trolls can erase the reality that Marcos and his dictatorship oppressed the Filipino people and smashed democracy – the very same things that he is now doing.”