Civil society groups gear up for 51st martial law anniversary
With the coming 51st anniversary of the declaration of martial law on Thursday, civil society groups from various sectors are getting ready to hold demonstrations and other activities to remember the atrocities of the Marcos dictatorship.
Mong Palatino of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Monday recalled the news headlines recently: two environmental activists missing, a lawyer was killed, oil price hikes, and an ongoing crisis in the prices of rice.
“These headlines are just like those during the martial period,” he said at a press briefing of multisectoral groups at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.
Flora Santos, president of the Oriang women’s movement and a martial law victim, remembered how she was captured by five “big men” exactly 45 years ago.
“They brought me to Camp Crame on Sept. 18, 1978, and it’s painful to remember. Our hardships did not end—from Marcos Sr. and now to Jr.; the violation of human rights continues,” she said.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo said he was a practicing journalist when martial law was declared in 1972. Trying to evade arrest, Ocampo joined the underground press for four years but was later detained for nine years.
With the return of the Marcoses, particularly the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who is now the President, Ocampo said the previous administrations from Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos were culpable because they failed to prosecute the dictator.
“There were cases of plunder, ill-gotten wealth, but for human rights violations among many crimes, there were none. This is why we say the culture of impunity remains until today,” he said.
For the youth sector, John Lazaro of the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan said that while they did not experience the dark years of dictatorship that saw thousands of deaths, arrests and torture, the stories of martial law victims “are deep scars that we feel until today.”
Karl Suyat of the research advocacy group “Project Gunita,” for his part, condemned the Department of Education’s recent move to drop the name of Marcos in “Diktadurang Marcos” under the revised Grade 6 social studies curriculum.“Not like your request for millions of confidential funds from Congress, the name of the dictator who implemented martial law is not confidential,” Suyat said in his message to Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte. INQ