“Experts on the Constitution point out that martial law is a last resort, one available exclusively to the President, to save the country from turmoil, chaos and collapse”
Fifty years ago, then President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr. issued Proclamation 1081 which placed the entire country under martial law.
Although the said proclamation was dated September 21, 1972, its enforcement began only in the early morning hours of September 23. This account is supported by the fact that the proclamation was announced in the September 24, 1972 issue of the Philippines Sunday Express.
Today, therefore, is the 50th anniversary of that fateful announcement.
Under the 1935 Constitution, the charter in effect in 1972, the President of the Philippines has the power to place the entire country or any part of it under martial law. It is essentially an emergency measure, designed for the purpose of suppressing lawlessness and insurgency in the country.
Experts on the Constitution point out that martial law is a last resort, one available exclusively to the President, to save the country from turmoil, chaos and collapse.
In theory, if the power of the President to resort to martial law is recognized by the Constitution, it cannot be unconstitutional, provided, however, that the grounds stated in the charter for resorting to this emergency measure are satisfied by the President.
In 1974, the validity of President Marcos’ proclamation of martial law was upheld by the Supreme Court. That ruling renders the issue of whether or not his resort to martial law was baseless.
At the time President Marcos resorted to martial law in September 1972, the Philippines was on the edge of disintegration.
Disorder, mayhem and lawlessness had become rampant, as seen in the seemingly endless violent rallies and demonstrations in parts of Manila, particularly in the districts proximate to Malacañang.
Red-leaning student activists, teachers, union leaders and journalists were organized by Jose Ma. Sison’s Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to participate in those violent assemblies.
Those assemblies were violent because the participants hurled pillboxes and molotov cocktails at the law enforcers guarding Malacañang and the vicinity. Law enforcers had no choice but to disperse the violent mobs through crowd-dispersal paraphernalia.
The common chant in those rallies and demonstrations was the mantra of the CPP-NPA, namely, “Mabuhay si Mao Tse-tung!,” the founder of Red China (whose name was eventually spelled by Chinese propagandists as Mao Zedong, in keeping with the pinyin spelling).
Indeed, the objective of Sison and his communist cadres was to overthrow the duly constituted government of the Republic of the Philippines by violent means, and to replace it with a pro-Red China government, with Sison as the helmsman.
To state the obvious, the communist government Sison had in mind for the Philippines was exactly like that of Red China. There would have been no fundamental freedoms such as press freedom, free speech, free expression, free assembly and religious freedom.
Teng Hsiao-Ping (later spelled as Deng Xiaoping), then a second-level official of the Chinese Communist Party, was in charge of supplying the communists in the Philippines with weapons, ammunition and explosives.
In July 1972, Deng sent a shipload of firearms, bullets and explosives to CPP-NPA cadres in Isabela in northern Luzon. Military forces intercepted the shipment at Digoyo Point in Palanan, Isabela, but the rebels escaped to the Sierra Madre and beyond.
Deng tried to send another shipload to the rebels, but the ship sank before it could reach the Philippines.
The foiled arms shipment in Isabela was one of the reasons which prompted President Marcos to resort to martial law.
Another reason was the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing.
On the evening of August 21, 1971, two grenades exploded at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila during the proclamation rally of senatorial and local government candidates of the opposition political party of the period, the Liberal Party.
As expected, the political opposition and their sympathizers blamed President Marcos for the bombing. Marcos adamantly denied any involvement therein.
That denial notwithstanding, anti-Marcos elements conveniently used the incident in its arsenal of anti-Marcos propaganda.
Almost two decades later, former CPP-NPA rebels, including Victor Corpus, the young lieutenant who raided the PMA armory in Baguio City and eventually became chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, revealed in different media interviews that Sison was the mastermind of the Plaza Miranda bombing.
They disclosed that Sison used the incident to destabilize the Marcos administration and to pave the way for a communist takeover of the government.
Senator Jovito Salonga, who was seriously injured at Plaza Miranda, also blamed President Marcos for the bombing. But upon learning of the truth behind the incident, Salonga publicly took back his accusation against President Marcos.
Under martial law, the Armed Forces of the Philippines arrested the rebels and their confederates. A number of them fled abroad or hid in the countryside. The imminent communist takeover of the country was nipped in the bud.
All told, President Marcos saved the Philippines from godless communism. It is the main reason why local communists remain hateful towards him.
The next time you encounter propaganda that demonizes President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and martial law, you ought to know that the communists are behind that garbage.