Why Martial Law was declared

IN the wake of so much hatred peddled by those opposing the burial of the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, two pertinent questions have to be answered.

One, why did Marcos declare Martial Law at midnight of Sept. 21, 1972, and two, if Martial Law were not declared, what would have happened to the country?

Let’s rewind a bit, and follow the antecedents of the declaration of Martial Law. In the the late 1940s, there was the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon) which traces it roots to the time of the Sakdalistas, demanding fair and equitable treatment of tenants by landlords, particularly in Central Luzon.

This struggle of oppressed farmers and tenants metamorphosed into the Hukbalahaps during the Japanese Occupation.

After Liberation in the early 1950s, because of the Cold War, communism and nationalism were the wave of the future. People thought that to be a communist, or at least a socialist, was something romantic.

I knew this because as a young student at the old Ateneo de Manila, even I fancied myself a communist. In fact, my good friend and classmate, former Vice President Tito Guingona and I used to call each other “comrade.”

Those were the days when the Huks became the enemy of the state. They went on a rampage throughout Luzon, inspired by the Communist Party of the Philippines, with an agenda of overthrowing the establishment. It got to be so that during the Magsaysay regime, foremost in the agenda of the late President Magsaysay was to break the backbone of the Hukbalahap. With the help of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Hukbalahap movement had a big setback.

Through the years, communism grew, so much as that media, the academe, the bureaucracy in government, and even Congress had admirers and supporters.

Santa Banana, would you believe that months before the imposition of Martial Law, the Huks, together with the New People’s Army, had already occupied Balara near the University of the Philippines? I knew this because I was teaching at that time at the Ateneo High School in Loyola Heights.

I had a jeep then which I bought for P1,500 and I used to take Highway 54, now Edsa, as the fastest route to my law school. Then one day, when I wanted to take the Highway 54 route to Manila, the highway was barred by logs and boulders, which I was told later, was done by the NPAs.

Marcos and then-Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile knew this as an early warning device. The Huks and the NPAs were already knocking at the doors of Metro Manila. With their supporters inside the establishment, they were ready to take over the government.

Long before this, I was told, Marcos and his people were already ready to declare Martial Law using the 1935 Constitution which provided that in cases of invasion and rebellion when public safety requires it, it can be done. With Proclamation 1081, Mr. Marcos simply did what had to be done.

Another factor that came into play was the rebellion of the Moro National Liberation Front led by a Muslim visionary, Nur Misuari, a graduate of the University of the Philippines, who believed that the Muslims must have their own government. The MNLF was not only after autonomy, but total independence of the Muslims from the central government.

Marcos was then actually fighting on two fronts—the communist takeover of the establishment, and the Muslim rebellion.With the declaration of Martial Law, the backbone of the communist movement was broken. This was precisely why Martial Law had to be declared.

As for the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, with the help of Marcos friends among the Muslims, Marcos gave MNLF commanders what they wanted—money and power. Muslim commanders were given access to imported fruits, sardines and other groceries which they could sell. That also broke the Muslim rebellion which forced Misuari into self-exile in Egypt.

Comes now the question: If Marcos did not impose Martial Law, what would have happened? We can conclude that the communist movement would have taken over the establishment and that the Muslim rebellion would have also succeeded.

Lest I am misunderstood, I am not condoning oppression and violation of human rights during the Martial Law regime. Nor am I tolerating plunder committed the 20-year regime of the Marcoses. But to heap everything that happened during these “dark days of history” on Marcos is also unfair.

Martial Law had to be declared, or else the country would have come under communist rule.

I am citing all those in my personal belief that Marcos, for all that happened during those days, must also have to be credited for preventing a communist takeover of the country.

Unfortunately during the years of the Cory Aquino administration, she gave an amnesty all the communists and decriminalized the Communist Party of the Philippines. That gave birth to the inclusion of the anomalous party-list system which benefited the communists and everybody else identified with the left.

To the Aquinos, Marcos was all evil, because they blamed him for the assassination of the late Senator Ninoy Aquino. But, during all the years the Aquinos were in power, eight years under Cory, six years under BS Aquino, they never tried to find out who really did it.

What really saddens me, my gulay, is that this is a time when people should be rejoicing with the coming of the Christ. And yet the air is filled with so much hate and vindictiveness.

Have we lost our sense of values?

* * *

What most people do not know is that Vice President Leni Robredo practically begged President Duterte to be made a member of the Cabinet.

When she was appointed, she vowed to support the President, knowing full well that a member of the Cabinet is the alter ego of the President and as such, he or she must conform to all the policies of the President.

Now, how can Robredo become the leader of the opposition when she failed to realize what it means to be a member of the Cabinet? To me, it all boils down to opportunism.

If there must be an opposition leader, he or she must be one who is respected and admired. Have the Yellows sunk to slow that they would rather have an opportunist leading them?

Topics: Emil Jurado , Martial Law , President Ferdinand Marcos , Libingan ng mga Bayani , Vice President Leni Robredo
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