Karapatan on 48th anniversary of Marcos’ martial law: End Duterte’s de facto martial law!

When the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law 48 years ago, the nation was plunged into an era of darkness as the horrors of a fascist rule was unleashed upon the Filipino people.

The Marcos dictatorship was an era of brazen disregard of people’s rights and civil liberties when democratic institutions became mere rubber stamps for authoritarian rule. The free press was gagged and silenced, along with thousands of political opponents, government critics, activists, human rights defenders, organizers, and unionists illegally abducted and detained, tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared—many of whom remain missing decades after they disappeared. The nation’s coffers were plundered for so-called development projects only to hide the utterly inhuman conditions of poverty in the country and to fatten the pockets of the dictator’s cronies.

But more than a time of suffering, the fascist Marcos dictatorship was also a time of resistance. The dark forces of tyranny were eventually vanquished by those who dared to fight it, even at the cost of their lives. Today, Karapatan joins the Filipino people in remembering and in honoring their lives, sacrifices, and their unrelenting struggle for democracy, justice, and freedom—especially now, in the face of blatant efforts to undermine historical facts, the narratives of the victims and survivors of the dictatorship, and to establish another fascist rule under Rodrigo Duterte.

In the middle of the worsening public health and socio-economic crisis, Duterte and his cabal have altogether discarded the people’s welfare in favor of exploiting the pandemic to further establish what can only be described as a de facto martial law. Ripping pages straight from the playbook of Marcosian fascist dictatorship, Duterte has built around him a virtual military junta of retired generals with bloody track records of human rights violations. The deployment of police and military forces in communities supposedly in the name of imposing quarantine measures have resulted to a spike in human rights violations that are being committed in broad daylight with brazen impunity.

Human rights defenders are being illegally arrested on falsified charges or brutally killed. Repressive laws such as the Anti-Terrorism Act have been railroaded and passed despite massive public opposition as Duterte ramped up his deranged McCarthyite anti-communist hysteria to discredit the critics of his failing response to the pandemic as “terrorists” while he further mobilizes the mass deception campaign of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the government’s crackdown on dissent through mass arrests and the closure of ABS-CBN as well as other attacks on press freedom.

Even in the middle of a pandemic, corruption remains business as usual—and, in line with following the footsteps of Marcos, Duterte is now engaging in Imeldific beautification projects to cover-up and divert public attention away from the scandals surrounding PhilHealth and the government’s failure in curbing the pandemic, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths, worsening unemployment, and the plunging of thousands of Filipinos deeper and deeper into poverty as billions of foreign loans disappear into the pockets of his bureaucrat cronies who shamelessly profit from this public health crisis. 

To cap it all off, blatant historical lies are being propagated to celebrate Marcos—a blatant affront to the victims of his dictatorship and an insult to history.

Duterte is visibly desperate in tightening his grip on power as his last two years loom ahead. The people have reached a tipping point: more and more voices are now daring to speak up and voice out their dissent against Duterte’s glaringly anti-people policies, and the wannabe dictator is now pulling all strings to squash the fomenting united resistance to his fascist rule. We have seen this all before, and the ending should none other than be the dismantling of Duterte’s fascist dictatorship.

As we face Duterte’s de facto martial rule, we are called to stand united in fighting for our hard-won rights and freedoms. Today, on the 48th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, we dare to return to the streets with face masks and clenched fists raised in defiance. Our faces may be masked, but our voices are not muffled in crying for justice for all the victims of the brutal atrocities and attacks of the Marcoses and Duterte against the Filipino people. No lockdown can ever shut down our struggle against fascist tyrants.