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On the 51st anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, groups come together to denounce attacks against activists, enforced disappearances prevalent then and now
MANILA, Philippines — “Never again, never again! Never again to Martial Law!”
This was the recurring chant of progressive organizations that gathered at Liwasang Bonifacio in Ermita, Manila, for the 51st anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law on Thursday, September 21.
But the day was more than just a time of remembering, the organizers of the program said. Now that another Marcos is in power, September 21 has become a day of demanding reparations from the Marcoses.
“Tayo ay hindi nakakalimot,” said Menchani Tilendo, one of the hosts of the program. “Tayo ay naniningil.”
(“We do not forget. We want restitution.”)
The namesake and father of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. declared martial law half a century ago. Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 and only lifted martial rule after nine years in 1981.
For almost a decade, the period was marked by thousands of killings, imprisonments, torture, and human rights violations.
Human rights groups, women and environmental activists, representatives of farmers, jeepney drivers, and students continue to denounce the many human rights violations and enforced disappearances that happened during Martial Law.
“Nagniningning ang pakikibaka ng mamamayan mula noong diktadurang Marcos hanggang sa kasalukuyang Marcos,” Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights organization Karapatan, said on Thursday.
(The struggle of the people continue to shine from the Marcos dictatorship until the current Marcos administration.)
The 51st anniversary coincides with Marcos’ second year in office, already beset by problems such as the rising prices of basic goods, food security. Malacañang did not release a statement on the anniversary.
In other parts of the Philippines, such as in Baguio, Cebu City, Tacloban, groups also staged pockets of protests.
Courage of youth
Among the current issues harking back to the terrors of Martial Law was the recent disappearance of two environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano.
Castro and Tamano recently surfaced after appearing in a presser led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, where they said they were abducted by the military.
Palabay, who was one of the individuals who sounded the alarm on the reported abduction of two environmental activists, said much has to be learned from the women who “fight against all forms of machismo and oppression.”
“Ang hamon sa atin ay maging kasing tapang ni Jonila at Jhed.” (The challenge for us is to be as brave as Jonila and Jhed.)
The Marcos era was marked both by the rise of many youth activists, and concurrently, the many disappearances of those critical of the government.
Huge canvases of the faces of killed Martial Law activists line one part of the plaza. Among them are student leaders Liliosa Hilao, Emmanuel Lacaba, and Lorena Barros.