Prelude to Martial law, (a reminiscent)
The month of August 1972 was all heavy rains for weeks on end in most part of Central Luzon including Metro Manila that has caused massive evacuation in the provinces, the government pouring in heavy social activities on relief. At the same time an unusual number of Philippine Marines recruits were training in the swampy grounds of then Camp Murphy in Quezon City now Camp Aguinaldo. Towards the end of the month, Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. of the opposition had leaked of a secret operation of the Marcos administration known as Sagguitarius, a plan to declare martial law and the Marine recruits will be used in the operation.
At the same time, demonstrations after demonstrations by students in Metro Manila came to a rising crescendo by what is called as the first quarter storm.
In the first week of September 1972, a breaking news startled the nation that a fishing boat named MV Karagatan anchored at Digoyo Point in Isabela was intercepted by a platoon of soldiers carrying a large shipment of arms and ammunitions intended for the New People’s Army. For several days, there was red alert in the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines as the AFP was supposedly poised to reinforce the handful number of soldiers guarding the arms laden ship. Reports was circulated that a large numbers of NPA members were said to be preparing to assault Digoyo Point to retake the huge shipment of arms and ammunitions.
The military claimed that the New People’s Army would use the arms shipment to capture Metro Manila and overthrow the government.
In the night of September 20, the nation was galvanized with the news that then Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed by the communists now surrounding Metro Manila, his car riddled by bullets as shown on TV but somehow Enrile escaped unhurt. The people were sold out to the news that indeed the communists were already swarming around Metro Manila.
Hours after the purported ambush of Enrile that same night Marcos issued Proclamation 1081 placing the entire country under Martial Law and the suspension of habeas corpus.
The morning after there was errie silence in the streets of Metro Manila, no passenger vehicles plying any route. Martial Law was now in effect. People gather in silence and in fear. Classes was suspended in schools. Even the gathering of people was prohibited by the PC Metropolitan Command (Metrocom). Then Senate and the House of Representatives were padlocked. TV, radio stations, newspapers were closed. Prominent journalists were jailed. Only one newspaper was allowed to circulate, the Philippine Daily Express owned by a crony of Marcos.
That was 40 years ago today.
And the rest is now history.
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