MARTIAL LAW: DARK HISTORY
In the past few months, many people have been bombarded with the idea that the Martial Law Era – for the sake of argument, let’s put it at 1972-1986, because even if Martial Law had been lifted earlier, there was no doubt that authoritarian rule still continued – was actually a good idea. You see, it’s easy to spin new perceptions, because we’re coming up to the same problem that the Jewish Holocaust from World War II has: beyond a certain point, the younger generations would have been born after it, and would have no concept of how that era has affected so many levels of Filipino life today. So let’s go through it piece by piece.
The most common way to make the Martial Law era smell like roses is to say that things were better under Marcos (yes, folks, Marcos was the President of the Martial Law era). We can’t ignore the fact that there was still economic growth at the time, to the tune of 3.4% annually. However, per capita growth – that is to say, the economic improvement for the average person – was less than 1%. That would mean that it would have taken 85 years just for the average income per person to double.
Now, let’s take today’s economy. From 2003 to 2014, we’ve been experiencing an average of 5.4% a year, and per person, we’re at 3.5%. People, of course, can still argue that they don’t feel it today, but the facts do stand: our economy is actually doing better now than under Martial Law.
The issue of how Marcos built all the major infrastructure in the nation is a common myth. However, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find out two things. The first one is that many of these projects were actually from President Manuel Roxas, most of them part of the post-war restoration. The second thing is that these infrastructure projects weren’t funded out of the goodness of his heart. These projects are the reason why the Philippines has, up to now billions of dollars in debt to worry about. Yes, you can argue that the debt is being serviced these days, but you have to ask yourself: how did it get there in the first place. Oh, and speaking of pricing…
Corruption is the big catchword these days. One reason why many of the young people and the nostalgic elderly pine for the Marcos days was that things were better then, there wasn’t as much corruption as it there is now. Well, again: when did it start? When was it institutionalized? Well, while corruption certainly already happened before the Martial Law era, that time made it all encompassing. Remember the saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Well, that’s what happened when cronies realized that all it would take would be to make sure that the higher-ups would get their cut. Government contracts, human interactions at the teller, you name: some sort of corrupt thing happened. Moreover, over the years, it became a part of “how things are done.”
That impunity that many of them exude? Hello, Martial Law. You taught generations of these people well.
The one big stain that the Marcos Family can never remove is the way that so many people disappeared or died while they were in power. Now, you can argue: it was the people under them who did it! But then, the instant question would be: so why didn’t they do anything about it?
Others also talk about how the people who died deserved it, being commie bastards. Did that also mean that people whose only sin was to be the sons of their fathers were meant to be tortured? Look up the name Mijares, and then Google it with “martial law” to see what could actually happen.
The sad thing is, many people lost loved ones – but even more simply carried on as if nothing happened – all they had to do was keep in line. But did those who simply questioned – or just had the bad luck of staying out late at night – deserve to be tortured, to be killed, to disappear? There are too many stories, and again, like corruption, this sort of system found its way to be embedded in the institutions that were supposed to protect the people.
Now, here’s what I find really funny: All these people are using their freedom of speech to really just put the notion there that the Marcoses were gifts from God. Well, let me tell you this, true believers: do your research on how freedom of expression really was in those days. I mean, heck, the regime censored anime for the supposed reason that they were too violent, and for the reason that everyone else had in their minds: that Voltes V, the anime in question, had an aristocratic dictatorship overthrown by revolution. Oops.
If the happy days were really here again…
So, let’s say that all these kids and oldies got their wish, and Martial Law was restored, with a Marcos at the helm. Would things be better? Chances are, no. The fact that the family members who were government officials won’t even address the issue of missing billions is bad enough. They’d also have to address the desaprecidos – the disappeared. Hiding behind the statements that it was their father’s time, or that they knew nothing of it isn’t good enough. Because if it were, then heck, they were incompetent, and that’s another reason why they shouldn’t have power given back to them.
And of course, it’s a sure thing that many will say that this is a fluff piece by a person who just has an axe to grind with the Marcoses, and with Martial Law. But the truth is, the generations today have all these tools to find out what really happened, literally at their fingertips, and yet the Marcos family is inching closer to more power with every passing day.
Perhaps the following should be best remembered by anyone who wants to see the Martial Law era re-enacted again:
“Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“ Always question everything.”
And remember, just because you don’t think it will happen to you, does not mean it won’t in the future.
When the link goes to a Wikipedia Article, do remember to check the sources at the bottom of the page: