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PIA Press Release

Declaration of martial law remembered

Tacloban City (September 21) -- Today we commemorate the date when Martial Law was proclaimed or rather when Martial Law was signed by then President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

As far as this writer could remember, Martial Law was declared midnight of September 22 or early morning of September 23. Why?

Thirty five years after, this writer couldn't have but remember that in the afternoon of September 22, 1972, she attended a symposium at a women's university along Mendiola where she was then enrolled as a freshman Mass Com student.

She remembers fully well what the topic of the symposium was- Is a Declaration of Martial Law in the Opping? The speaker then was no less than the youngest Cabinet Secretary, Kit Tatad who was them secretary of the Ministry of Information.

What was this writer doing, attending a symposium of such a delicate nature. Well, she was then the associate editor of the school publication and it is a must that she attends.

The speech of then Secretary Tatad was clear. Marcos will not declare Martial Law. That's it. The symposium was over at 8:00 o'clock in the evening. Since the writer had to make a story out of the symposium, she slept well that night.

Early at 7:00 o'clock in the morning the following day, Saturday, September 23, she rushed for school only to find out that Mendiola Bridge was already barricaded with many military men telling her to just go home because Martial Law was declared at midnight.

How could that be when Tatad just informed us that Martial Law will not be declared, the writer asked herself.

Why then do we commemorate the declaration of Martial Rule on September 21? Because Marcos antedated the martial law order to September 21 and henceforth, it would be recorded as having transpired on that date.

For one week, classes were suspended but over the radio, this writer learned that the military arrested opposition figures, journalists, student and labor activists and criminal elements.

Moreover, this writer learned that the incident that precipitated Proclamation 1081 was an attempt, allegedly by communists, to assassinate Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile. As Enrile himself admitted after Marcos's downfall in 1986, his unoccupied car had been riddled by machinegun bullets fired by his own men on the night that Proclamation 1081 was signed.

Probably, the positive effect of the Martial law declaration, according to the writer's young mind then, was that the people were disciplined. The people learned to fall in line while waiting for public utility vehicles. The public utility vehicle drivers learned to just stop at the designated pick up areas.

What this writer hated the most was the feeling of fear that could be seen in everyone's eyes. People didn't dare talk or group together in discussion or they might be charged of rumor mongering.

The first few days of Martial Law are days this writer hopes will not be experienced by her children and her children's children.

If there is one thing this writer wants to impart today, it is this. We Filipinos must cherish our democracy. It may not be perfect, but it is the best we have got. (PIA 8) [top]

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