In 1969, Marcos instructed Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor and Jose Almonte to study how Martial Law was implemented in different parts of the world. Marcos also wanted to know the consequences of declaring Martial Law. The result of their study stated that, “while Martial Law may accelerate development, in the end the Philippines would become a political archipelago, with debilitating, factionalized politics.” Almonte recalled that their findings led to the conclusion that “the nation would be destroyed because, apart from the divisiveness it would cause, Martial Law would offer Marcos absolute power which would corrupt absolutely.”
Source: Jose T. Almonte and Marites Dañguilan Vitug, Endless Journey: A Memoir (Quezon City: Cleverheads Publishing, 2015), p. 77.
The attitude “That country should not instruct us on human rights because look at what they have done / are doing” is stupid. That’s like saying “why should I follow the rules when no one else does?” Or “it’s easier for me to go to mass instead of not being an asshole to other people”. This is exactly what is wrong with the entire country.
44 years ago on September 23, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Proclamation 1081, placing the Philippines under Martial Law. My father was the very first lawyer to challenge the act before the Supreme Court and questioned its legality under the 1935 Philippine Constitution.
Today, the 1987 Constitution safeguards our institutions from a repeat of Marcos’ Martial Law regime. The Supreme Court is empowered to review all official acts to determine if there has been grave abuse of discretion. Congress cannot be padlocked. Martial Law is limited in duration and effects, even if contemplated by a president. (Source: Section 18 of Article VII)
If you really love our country, regardless of political beliefs, invest in it. Give it your love, your forgiveness, your righteous and civil dissent. Obey it’s laws even if you feel stupid doing so because no one else will. Hold your head high when people tell you “masyado ka kasing honest”. Do good work, fall in love, live with honor. Be the best Filipino you can be. And above all, cherish the freedoms that were bought so dearly by so many. Do not abuse them. The Filipino is worth living for, and worth living here for. We are worth changing for, worth loving despite our many frailties. We are worth it all.
The many will someday stand bravely with the few, though we may have to re-learn our lessons because we always had aborted, personal, and unfinished revolutions.
We are impatient as a people and as a culture, perhaps we need an evolution - the slow quiet unsung work of true development - more than a revolution. Maybe that’s what change means.
Hope, prayer, vigilance, strength, and honor. This is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.