Martial Law Opens Old Wounds, As Well As New Perspectives

By Ado Paglinawan, Part 1

The declaration of martial law does not automatically mean, he who declared it is a dictator.

What is a dictator?

There are many definitions, including the latest which the President offers, and what Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has improvised which the yellow media propagates.

“A dictator does not consult. A dictator just says, ‘This is what you should do, whether you like it or not,’” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. replied partly in Filipino during a pre-recorded interview with Toni Gonzaga, coinciding with his 65th birthday.

“My father was not a dictator. A dictator does not consult. A dictator just says, ‘This is what you should do, whether you like it or not,’” Marcos Jr. added.

But when he implied that this is a matter of opinion, the President of course being subjective.

Objectivity can be easily established, but this a matter of first definition of terms and secondly confirmation by verification of the facts on the ground.

The best definition I have encountered so far says “dictatorship is a form of government in which a single individual, who has often seized power by force, exercises complete and often arbitrary control over all aspects of government.”

Did Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr. in declaring martial law, assume power by force?

No, it is by Constitutional mandate under Article VII, Section 10 (2): “The President shall be commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Philippines, and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion. In case of invasion, insurrection, or rebellion or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part thereof under Martial Law.”

Was the declaration justifiable?

The confluence of many factors rendered the State under extreme danger. The presence of the New People’s Army’s cadres along the boundaries of Greater Manila was aggravated by the growing control of the Moro insurgents in Mindanao. There was also the danger of drug lords and criminal syndicates taking advantage of the numerous riots organized by student activists and leftist labor groups.

 There could be no better illustration of the actual peace and order situation than the bombing of Plaza Miranda during the miting-de-avance of the Liberal Party on August 21, 1971. Such was masterminded by CPP founder Jose Maria Sison who were pushing for a violent overthrow of the Marcos government.

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was the only person who survived the bombing because it was later exposed that he knew beforehand about the bombing.

This bombing and the botched arms landing of the M/V Karagatan two months before on July 4, 1972, served as Marcos’ justifications for declaring martial law on September 21 of that year. (Read:


Dictatorial control

Did a single individual “arbitrarily control over all aspects of the government?”

Of course not. Even though martial law was declared on September 21, 1972, it did not hamper the completion of the work of the 1970 Constitutional Convention Less than three months after its declaration, President Marcos receive and on December 1, 1972, the final draft of the new Constitution from the Convention president Diosdado Macapagal.

The Constitution was finally ratified from January 10 to 15, 1973 and proclaimed in force on January 17, 1973.

The first set of legislators, the Interim National Assembly was inaugurated on June 12, 1978.

The Honorable Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando held office until July 1, 1979 succeeded by Félix Valencia Makasiar until November 19, 1985, and Ramon Aquino until March 6, 1987. The Supreme Court never ceased supervising the judiciary from the start of martial in September 1972 to the removal of President Marcos Sr. on February 1986.

Bongbong Marcos confirms this in his personal testimony.

“Because I know that everything he did, he did with consultation with whoever. No matter what the system of the government was. How many times have I watched caucuses here (at Malacañang), have I watched meetings in this hall? That in different industries, he really talked to them. ‘What we should really do? What do you really want?’” the younger Marcos said.


Bayan disagrees

Meanwhile, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes disagreed “On the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, the dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr. continues to echo the big lie that martial law was necessary for the government to defend itself from communist and Moro insurgencies. This lie has been discredited by actual historical facts, which the Marcos regime now desperately tries to erase,”

Reyes maintained that Marcos’ father declared martial law to “scrap the elections, extend his term, dissolve Congress and centralize power unto himself, making him a dictator from 1972 to 1986.”

“During his reign of terror, Marcos arrested and jailed not just communists or Moro insurgents, but everyone opposed to his tyrannical regime, including opposition leaders, journalists, academics, students, farmers, workers and ordinary people. This was not defending the government. This was assaulting democracy and the people,” Reyes added.

I am no longer surprised that a perpetual activist such as Reyes even in his senior years echoed the mantra that Amnesty International, about 70,000 to 72,000 were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured and 3,240 were summarily killed from 1972 to 1981, allegations that do not have verified documentation.

Of course, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and other yellow media publishes in full Bayan’s statements, oblivious of the fact that Reyes’s activism birthed in the 80s, or 15 years after the fact of Marcos’ assumption to power.

I am sorry to disappoint Reyes, but I was in the midst of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s as well as Corazon Aquino’s ascent and descent from power. I became part of both the Marcos and Aquino governments. I am a first-hand witness of both the positive and negative aspects of their administration.

When I asked two of former cadres, they agreed that Reyes only surfaced as an activist sometime Late 80s to early 90s. This does not make him a credible person at all bleeding for martial law “victims”. That is at least a decade away from the heat, which means what he ingested are already information war inputs processed by the CPP-NPA-NDF onto the parliament of the streets.

Even if just ten percent of Amnesty International’s claims were true, this was largely directed at those who bore arms against the government or who coddled them. I never gave credence to propaganda of this genre because they are always grossly exaggerated.

Even in that limited scope, I doubt if Reyes could even qualify to be a martial law victim, most hardliners of which had already been paid by the Philippine government.


The Enrile factor

The Toni Gonzaga interview also quoted Bongbong Marcos saying he knows no reason why Juan Ponce Enrile whom he has appointed as some legal counsel would not betray him as he did his father.

Well, Enrile already betrayed the Marcoses, again nine years ago.

On February 25, 2013, Noynoy Aquino signed a law, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, giving compensation to victims of human rights violations that occurred when the country was under martial law.

The Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 was proposed by then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

The law established the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission and authorized P10 billion (about US$245 million) for payments.

 The funds came from recovered assets of the Marcos family, of which in addition to Imelda, Bongbong serves as co-administrator.

The fund is illegal because by a precedent law, all recoveries from the hidden wealth of his father, were to be spent for agrarian reform.

I find it scandalous also that P10 billion of what is now considered as public money, has been released to the pockets of people who bore arms against the government.

Enrile raised the hands of Bongbong Marcos as his vice-presidential candidate during the latter’s proclamation rally at Intramuros for the 2016 elections, three years after the enactment of the human rights reparations law.  

In a televised interview in The Netherlands on May 22, 2018, Jose Maria Sison announced that his wife, Julie and he, received P1.2 million each from the government for a total of P2.4 million as among the first batch of 4,000 eligible claimants for partial compensation who are beneficiaries of an Enrile law.

For the 2022 elections, Enrile again endorsed Bongbong Marcos for the presidency.

I cannot fathom an inch where Enrile would benefit the sitting president as legal counsel. If the search is for an elderly legal luminary, I would have chosen Estelito Mendoza, instead, his wellness allowing.

But I can surmise hundreds of reasons how Enrile can use his present position to protect himself. History has proven that Enrile is for Enrile.



As for Amnesty International, and other who are trying to pull wool over the eyes of the people of the Philippines, over some contrived statistics, remember it echoing Maria Ressa reckless proclaimed to the world – 27,000 victims of extrajudicial killings under the watch of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The International Criminal Court lists anywhere between 12,000 to 30,000 as of March 2019.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s official records only lists 6,201 as of September 2021.

Did we see body bags lined up in the streets as we did in the Supertyphoon Yolanda aftermath? Were there any traces of mass graves even rumored to exist?

AI and the ICC are organizations playing with the awe effect in order to earn the next fat donation from non-profits and foundations that support victimology in human society.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is no different. As for Enrile, it will just be a question of which comes first, his passing on, or his next betrayal of the Marcoses.

(To be continued)

<strong>Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan</strong>
Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

is the anchor of Ang Maestro – the Unfinished Revolution at Radyo Pilipinas1, co-host of Opinyon Ngayon at Golden Nation Network Television, a political analyst, and author of books.

His third book, The Poverty of Power will soon be off-the-press. It is a historiography of controversial issues of spanning 36 years leading to the Demise of the Edsa Revolution and the Rise of the Philippine Phoenix. Paglinawan’s past best sellers have been A Problem for Every Solution (2015), a characterization of factors affecting Philippine-China relations, and No Vaccine for a Virus called Racism (2020) a survey of international news attempting to tracing its origins. These important achievements earned for him to be named one of the 2021 international laureates for the Awards for the Promotion of Philippine-China Understanding. Ado, as he called for short, was a former press attaché and spokesman of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and the Philippines’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. Facebook




Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: