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Batas Militar

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Last Monday, (November 19, 2012) we had our film viewing activity. It was about Batas Militar, commonly known in English as “Martial Law” which was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos with Proclamation 1081 on September 21, 1972. The film we watched was a comprehensive documentary on Martial Law. It clearly showed how the former President Marcos moved his way up to presidency and later on to dictatorship. After watching, I came to understand more how he did it. I was actually impressed by his intelligence and how he managed to deceive the Filipinos and even the Americans. Impressed I may be, I could not help but be mad at him for he brought a lot of misery and problem to the country. No class was spared from his iron hands. Those who leaned onto him benefited from his actions, but still there were only a handful of them. He did it, he said, to save the Republic and to create what he called a “New Society.” A whole generation of Filipinos now exists which only has the faintest recollection – if at all – of the Marcos dictatorship.

By definition, Martial Law is the temporary superimposition of military government over civil government. This military-run government is put into place in the event of war or serious national emergencies. During such times, the military and its accompanying superiors take over the executive, legislative and judicial functions normally delegated to the civil government by virtue of its constitution. As a result, the right of an individual in custody to be brought to court to resolve whether such imprisonment is lawful may be suspended for an indefinite period.

Batas Militar video documentary certainly captured the drama of the era. As I’ve watched it, I felt distressed and it really touched my heart. The events happened brought much struggle to our fellowmen especially the media practitioners at that time. Marcos government never really wanted to let the public knew what his actions were. Everything broadcasted in the newspapers, radio and television were just a front to hide the truth. That was why he allowed his cronies and relatives to seize these media companies so that no one could put out negative publicity about him. Many people were jailed and they lost their properties and their chance to assume a dominant role in the ruling elite. And a number of other elite and middle class personalities were also imprisoned and tortured. Some of them were killed.

But those who suffered the most in terms of prolonged detention, severe torture and salvaging or summary execution were the leaders and activists, the arm rebels, the organized workers in the cities, the peasant leaders and the masses in the rural areas. It was really a tough and trying time for our fellowmen. Many feared for their lives. However, there were some people like Ninoy Aquino who were brave enough to put out whatever they knew about Marcos. These people became Marcos’ enemies. Even in their going underground, they never forgot their responsibilities and duties to the country. What they did was actually an eye-opener for most of the Filipinos. The Philippines came to understand and realize that Marcos wasn’t what he seemed to be. Because of their bravery in exposing the true colors of the regime, democracy was again attained.

The shadow of Martial Law will always be remembered as one of the truly tragic events that gripped this gallant nation. It will remain as a permanent scar in our collective consciousness as a people. And this video documentary is only one reminder, it is a chilling grim reminder to the unfolding history of our nation.

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