Forty years ago today
This day is always remembered as a day when American-type of democracy “died” in the Philippines. Immediately and by an instant impulse majority of the Filipinos who lived during those days say that September 21 was the day when President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos started to wear on his head the mantle of a dictatorship that he wielded for a solid 4 decades until he and his family and those who were aptly described as cronies were driven out of the country by that historic and world-acclaimed People Power Revolution of February 25, 1986. It installed Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, widow of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. parents of the incumbent President Noynoy, as the “President” of the Revolutionary government for a short while. Thru her initiative she restored democracy with the ratification of the new 1987 Constitution. And the rest, as they say, is history.
But wait! The Presidential proclamation 1081, of Sept. 21, 1972 instilling Martial Law all over the land had a lot of significant and laudable points worth mentioning to give a complete picture of that historic even.
For those of us who were reasonably adults already in the 1972 era and/ or a little far back we were aware that we were in a situation of hopelessness for a much needed reforms in government. Graft and corruption that became an accepted lifestyle enriched politicians and even heads and influential bureaucratic leaders in government, administration after administration. These corrupt public officials, mindless and heartless as they even with senseless pride proudly flaunted their wealth before a poor population. That era created a big and wide divide in life’s existence between the rich and the poor with just a few families belonging to the decent middle class.
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(Maybe at this point you will ask. How is it now? Well there may still be, but with a big difference. That could be one for good discussion to be written about.)
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The hardships of our people caused by irresponsible governance by administrations after administrations gave birth to insurgency. It reached to the point that a good percentage of barrios ( as barangays were called then) were either controlled or at least influenced by leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Some of these red cadres were idealistic and scholars with a good number of them coming from the University of the Philippines, a premier state-owned educational institution of the land.
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President Marcos, who undoubtedly and indisputably had prolific legal mind, a bar topnotch and had a well-entrenched knowledge of history invoked a constitutional precept in the 1935 Constitution, declared Martial Law. The proclamation clearly defined two objectives: to stop rebellion and create a New Society. This was well accepted and popularly supported by our people. It became a popular innovation that was recognized and acclaimed by a good number of leaders world-wide. In fact it was supported by the US President Ronald Reagan.
In fact the early years of Martial Law were golden years of hope as Marcos instituted innovations unheard of in the past and the results were inspiring. Unfortunately in the later years of his alleged one-man-rule, he got inflicted with a serious disease – lupus, they say. He lost complete control of government and that that paved the way and for an awaited opportunity of those within his circle to backslide – and they mercilessly robbed and plundered government coffers almost dry.
A lot of Filipinos know who they were and who they are, because until now cases are still being heard to recover hidden wealth allegedly a product of their infamous plunder.
By: Alvin Gz. Arpon
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