Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said yesterday that implementation of martial law is a “tool to save the exercise of democracy” in spite of recognizing the “traumatic experiences” and the “deep wound” it left to the Filipinos.

“Those who perceive that a declaration of martial law is anti-democratic (are) oblivious of the fact that its application is precisely the very tool to save the exercise of democracy. It is only when it is clothed with abuse by its enforcers that it becomes obnoxious,” he said in a statement released after the 47th Martial Law anniversary

“[R]egardless of political persuasion, the Marcos martial law continues to haunt those who have traumatic experiences during the one-man rule. Perforce, it is best to reflect on this day to learn the lessons derived therefrom, using the same to unite us as one people and one country,” Panelo added. 

However, he admits that although the “imposition of martial law and the abuses it spawned, even as it instilled discipline among the citizenry at its inception, as well as reaping success in dismantling the then spreading communist insurgency in the country, created a deep wound to an entire generation.”

In addition, Panelo disagrees to the view of groups opposing the idea of military rule, stating it only becomes unpleasant when there are abuses and pointing out that declaration of martial law “arises only upon constitutional dictates.”

“Despite the fears and the trauma it created following its declaration, the framers of the 1987 Constitution acknowledged the necessity of its use to save the Republic from ruin against the enemies of the state, deeming it wise to vest it once more with the President albeit diminishing its discretionary use by adding more safeguards for its abuse,” the spokesperson said.

According to him, some who violated any of the Constitution under martial law will be subject to “the wrath and vengeance of the Constitution.”

“Relative to our quest to strengthen the republic and its institutions, the Palace urges everyone to look at the past to guide us on what to do with the present, that it may serve us better in the future,” he added. 

Students join a demonstration in Manila last September 20 to mark the 47th Martial Law in the Philippines. (Image source: Jire Carreon )

On September 21, 1972, late President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the country in response to the threats of communist insurgency. It was, however, corrupted with alleged human rights abuses, censorship and cronyism, and other issues that attacked Marcos until he was dethroned in the significant EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.

As per Amnesty International, over 100,000 people were abused during the Marcos administration. 

In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte, a vocal Marcos fan, has raised martial law in Mindanao to counter the attacks of Islamic State-aligned extremists in Marawi City. 

Duterte was criticized for trying to alter history and for his efforts to deodorize Marcos’s image after he permitted the burial of the dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani 2016.

He later justified his action, explaining that Marcos deserved to be given a hero’s burial since he became a president and a soldier. 


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