WILL THERE BE MARTIAL LAW?
By Napoleon G. Rama
January 30, 1971—His theme was sobriety and unity in the hour of crisis; his delivery, cool and slow; his tone, soft and supplicating. But the words were intimidating.
“If violence continues, if there should be massive sabotage, if there should be terrorism, if there is assassination, I will have no other alternative but to utilize the extraordinary powers granted me by our Constitution. These powers are the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus under which [suspension] any man can be arrested and detained any length of time; and the power to declare any part or the whole of the Philippines under martial law. These powers I do not wish to utilize and it is for this reason I appeal to our people tonight.”
With just this one paragraph President Marcos spoiled what could have been one of his best speeches, certainly the most impressive TV performance since he spoke before the US Congress.
All throughout the first 20 minutes of his speech—a persuasive plea for restraint and understanding—he displayed style and coolness under fire, until he struck the jarring chords. Thus, the newspaper headlines the next day couldn’t help but scream the frightening words: “martial law.” Instead of calm, the speech succeeded in spreading alarm throughout the breadth and width of the nation.
Weeks after he made the speech and after the jeepney drivers ended their strike, political quarters, campuses, coffee shops and wherever people gathered were still abuzz with the dreaded words—articulated sometimes in anger but mostly in fear.
School tots come home asking their mommies what’s this “martial law” their teachers were talking about in grave and fearful tones.
Opposition leaders bristle with counter-warnings and charges of goon mentality against the President.
Student leaders answered him with threats of larger and more violent demonstrations.
Religious leaders chide the President and invite him to look into what ails the nation, at the rampant social injustice that spawns social unrest.
Constitutional Convention delegates feverishly hold emergency meetings to plot out their moves in case martial law is declared.
For all the efforts of the President (buried in the inside pages of the dailies) to quiet the anxieties and allay fears, the nervous talk goes on. There has been, said the President, a misreading of his statement. He had stressed certain conditions before he would declare martial law. The present drift of events, he now said, does not lead to those conditions.
The reason he mentioned martial law in his speech, he explained, was to warn radicals about the consequences of their acts, to stop further violence which, he said, was about to crop up.
He branded as irresponsible the threat of LP Congress leaders to boycott the sessions of Congress if Marcos declared military rule in the country or any part of it.
“Ridiculous” was the word he used to describe speculations that he would manipulate the present situation to bring about the conditions which would justify the imposition of martial law.
What probably upset the President more than anything else was the damning reaction of leaders of his own party.
The proclamation of martial law, declared the top NP leader in the House of Representatives, Speaker Jose B. Laurel, would be “an admission of weakness” on the part of the government.
“It would seem that the situation has become uncontrollable and unless martial law is proclaimed the government cannot function,” he said.
The Speaker pointed out that although under the Constitution the President may proclaim martial law without first getting the consent of Congress, he has to meet certain constitutional requirements.
“Legally, the issuance of a proclamation on martial law may be questioned before the Supreme Court,” Laurel said.
In harsher tones, he called President Marcos’s “veiled threats” untimely and uncalled for.
He said that there are many “fence-sitters” now merely critical of the Administration.
“The moment martial law is declared,” he said, “and they suspect that they are on the list of people to be picked up by the military, they will go to the hills.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Arturo Tolentino commented:
“Definitely, there is no justification yet to impose martial law.”
In a meeting with his Congress leaders in the Palace, the President’s talk of martial law drew a similar reaction from NP solons: no good! Several NP congressmen and senators warned the President that the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus might only worsen the already critical situation.
Sen. Leonardo Perez, one of the Marcos stalwarts in the Senate, said that military rule would be ill-advised for the moment.
In a hurriedly convened caucus, the LPs came up with a plan to boycott the session of Congress if President Marcos declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus. They elaborated that even if they went on leave, they will continue to discharge their duties and responsibilities….
In the mountains?
Sen. Gerry Roxas, LP president, said that the LP solons will continue to fiscalize the government outside the halls of Congress and will resume attending the session only upon restoration of the normal process of civil government. They will refuse to be identified with the government the moment it declares martial law.
Read the LP manifesto:
“WE BELIEVE THAT A DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW OR THE SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IS INTENDED TO ELIMINATE ALL OPPOSITIONS; TO SUPPRESS DISSENT; FREE SPEECH, AND FREE PRESS, ALL CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND INSTALL A FASCIST DICTATORSHIP THROUGHOUT THE LAND.”
On the other hand, several delegates to the Constitutional Convention voiced their determination to continue holding pre-convention meetings and convention sessions, once opened formally, and risk life and limb in defense of the Constitutional Convention.
The most interesting comment came from churchmen. Isabelo de los Reyes, supreme bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, said that the President must have gotten the wrong advice, hence, his gross indiscretion.
He warned that the imposition of military rule would only “boomerang” on the President.
Fr. Horacio de la Costa, historian and former provincial of the Society of Jesus, said that the establishment of military rule would subvert the Constitutional Convention and only invite the very perils that the President would want to avoid—anarchy and communism.
Bishop de los Reyes suggested that the President unbend and mix with the people without displaying military force, to “show that he trusts his own people and that his own people trust him.”
The bishop was for attacking the disease and not the symptoms. He said that no democratic nation could subsist without social justice.
“Lack of social justice causes social unrest,” he argued.
“While President Marcos exalts the duties of the people towards the Republic,” he added, “young students and jeepney drivers exalt human rights and believe that social victory, permanent social victory, will come only through loyalty towards principles, justice, truth, sacrifice—and constancy in sacrifice.”
He went on:
“While the police and the army are ready to kill but not to die for a salary, our students and jeepney drivers, with a common devotion to social justice, are ready to fight and die side by side for their principles.
“This is no time for mediocrity anywhere in the government.
“Let our President show his grandeur not by words but by deeds; by showing himself a statesman who believes, speaks, and acts without anger to help the people recover from a long and somber period of economic desperation.”
Father de la Costa expressed concern over the coming Constitutional Convention. If the President, he said, opted for military rule, it could nullify all chances of the Constitutional Convention drawing up the radical but peaceful reforms that are needed and instead invite anarchy.
The Jesuit scholar, speaking before a seminar for newsmen, said that one of the immediate national objectives should be to ensure the holding of the Constitutional Convention, scheduled to open June 1 if not earlier. The imposition of martial law at this time is not necessary and will make the attainment of this objective impossible.
“The Convention must open under conditions that will permit it, in freedom, to at least initiate the radical structural changes in our government and society which will permit rapid progress towards both social justice and socioeconomic development,” he said.
Should martial law be imposed, the Convention could fall by the wayside, he warned, and another avenue for peaceful dialogue, for reaching a national consensus for reforms, would thereby be closed.
The press and other media and citizen groups should move together to impress on President Marcos the disastrous consequences of military government, the Jesuit priest added.
He forecast that if martial law came, it would polarize the people and could lead to anarchy, authoritarian rule, or even, possibly, a communist takeover. The repression implicit in martial law will effectively block the kind of national dialogue that is needed, he said.
The principal student organizations and adult citizen groups should be invited by the press, radio and TV to clarify both their thinking and their public statements and the meaning, the objectives, the advisability or the necessity of revolution, he suggested.
President Marcos’s opponent in the last elections, Sen. Sergio Osmeña Jr., warned that martial law might be “the trigger that could spark a bloody revolution.” The threat of martial law would make a bigger mess of the national economy already in a shambles. Martial law “would make more unfavorable the climate for business and capital, thereby aggravating the serious economic difficulties now confronting the country.”
Osmeña damned the brutal action taken by government troops against the demonstrating students. Granting, he said, that the explosions were caused by infiltrators, did they constitute sufficient provocation for the government troops to act as they did?
“It would have been enough for them to use tear gas to disperse the crowd,” he said. “But they went much further than that, as if their being in uniform and having guns gave them the license to kill at the slightest excuse.”
Indeed, the most intriguing feature of the Plaza Miranda incident where four were killed during the jeepney driver-student demonstration was the use of Armalites by rampaging government troops—not just to disperse but to gun down student demonstrators who were already on the run.
It was a ruthless departure from the agreed and civilized formula of employing truncheons or tear gas which proved so effective in the demonstrations middle of last year. This time, it seems, there was a deliberate plan to crush demonstrations by brutal force and terrorism—to give the demonstrators a lesson and a preview of what would happen in future demonstrations?
It was a peaceful demonstration until late in the afternoon when a pillbox was exploded somewhere in Plaza Miranda. This was followed by shots fired into the sky. At this stage, everyone was scampering out of Plaza Miranda, seeking cover. In a jiffy, national government troops, replacing the Manila policemen, invaded the plaza. In five minutes, or just before the troops armed with Armalites poured into Plaza Miranda, both the students and the on-lookers had emptied the plaza and spilled into Quezon Boulevard and the side streets. TV cameras showed that the troops were not there just to disperse the crowd but to give chase to demonstrators running for their lives away from the plaza.
A TV replay showed a soldier aiming and shooting at demonstrators who were no longer in Plaza Miranda. On the streets nearby the soldiers were engaging in mopping up operations, not to scatter a defiant crowd but, it seems, to hunt and shoot down those running away from the demonstration site. The scene was undistinguishable from a war operation in Vietnam: soldiers in single file, in crouching position, ears and eyes alert, trigger-happy fingers ready to shoot at the slightest noise or motion of the enemy.
But there is a difference. In Vietnam, government and American soldiers carry Armalites only in battle or mopping up operations. They don’t use the terrible weapon for police work—as did our troopers at Plaza Miranda.
Foreigners were shocked to see Armalite-carrying soldiers employed by the national government to break demonstrations by students who were not even armed. Why did the government abandon the civilized manner of controlling demonstrators in favor of the monstrous method? Why were truncheon-bearing soldiers conspicuously absent in that Plaza Miranda demonstration?
What is Malacañang up to?
It’s now evident that the net result of the President’s veiled threat of imposing martial law has alienated many of his political allies, if not the whole nation. None of his top lieutenants in the party has come up endorsing the presidential statement. Everyone of them thought the President made a costly tactical blunder in making such a threat, despite his cushioning conditions for suspending the writ of habeas corpus or imposing martial law. Worse, even the moderates who frown upon violent demonstrations are having second thoughts. Many of them are gravitating toward the radical group, the extremists.
The impression conveyed is that the President will resist reforms, hence the idea of martial law to defend the status quo— Marcos style. In political quarters, the martial law idea is seen as a Marcos formula for perpetuating himself in office—at all costs! All are agreed that, as things are, neither the President nor the First Lady can hope to stay in Malacañang after 1973, even if they succeeded in rigging the Constitutional Convention into drawing up a constitution permitting an expansion of his term or succession by the First Lady to his office. If they can’t stay in Malacañang beyond 1973 by popular election, then the only remedy is to place the whole country under a military dictatorship, with Marcos the dictator, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
That is, to stay in power not by ballot but by bullet.
If the President entertained such a notion, he would be smart to drop it. Military rule would need the support of some segment of the population to maintain itself. As things stand now, almost everyone is against the idea of martial law. You can’t just defy the whole nation and survive. The armed forces would carry out orders to fight certain segments of the population but not the whole population. When ordered to terrorize the nation and repress the rights of all on flimsy grounds, the armed forces would surely think twice before obeying such orders. It is doubtful that the majority of the military brass warms up to the idea of martial law.
The loyalty of the military men to the President is still to be tested. The defection of a Philippine Military Academy instructor, Lieutenant Corpus, should give an inkling of the shaky hold of the Establishment on the military brass. It’s significant that after Lieutenant Corpus defected, the President felt compelled to order a loyalty check in the armed forces, including a cloak-and-dagger once-over of the headquarters of the Chief of the Philippine Constabulary.
A government by martial law must be premised on indubitable loyalty of the military to the ruler decreeing the martial law and substantial popular support. Hitler and Mussolini had such loyalty and support. And the fact is, the President himself is not quite sure of the loyalty of the armed forces when the chips are down—and certainly not the support of the people.
Revolt of the Masses—Marcos Style
By Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.
A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcize this spectre; Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact.
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers to be itself a Power.
II. It is time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.
—From the communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich (just call me “Fred”) Engels
January 30, 1971—A SPECTRE is haunting the Philippine oligarchy: the spectre of the Revolt of the Masses led by no less than the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, the biggest oligarch of them all, according to the opposition, not to mention close friends, who add, however, that since he has amassed a fortune which three generations of Marcoses cannot spend, he desires now to serve the nation.
All the powers of the Establishment, all vested interests should enter into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre; owners of public utilities, sugar centrals and estates, mines, cement factories, oil companies, banks, etc., as well as the Fourth Estate and the CIA.
To this end, one of these Powers has gathered in “that tall building in the suburbs”—the publishers and editors of the nation’s leading newspapers and magazines—to vilify the Marcos administration and bring it down through a series of “pooled editorials.”
The debauchment of the currency, political terrorism on a scale and of a virulence never reached before, the deterioration of public order, the utter loss of confidence in the institutions of the republic on the part of the common people have all been blamed on President Marcos by these conspirators. Two things have resulted from their efforts.
I. The universal opinion is that Marcos is the worst president this nation has ever had.
II. Anyone who says a good word for the President damages his reputation irreparably.
It is high time that this fairy tale of Marcosian malevolence is shown for what it is: a vicious lie started by certain vested interests who would bend the President to their corrupt will. For this purpose, President Marcos has come out with a declaration of war on the Oligarchy.
“It is now time to fight the pressure groups and the oligarchs in the name of the people,” said the President. “There are too many inequities. The rich continue to grow richer and the poor continue to grow poorer. I will see to it that my remaining three years will be devoted to removing these inequities.”
He confessed to having compromised with the oligarchs in the past. He had thought that the rich could be counted on to help in the development of the nation, to give it the industrial base without which it could never pull itself out of the quagmire of feudal poverty and stagnation and the condition of an economic colony of the industrial states. But all that is past! The President said he had finally realized that nothing can be expected of the rich except progressive greed and an inexorable instinct for monopoly. Conscience, it seems, is one luxury the rich cannot afford to have.
If it was a blinding vision that converted Saul of Tarsus from a pagan inquisitor on the trail of fugitive Christians into Saint Paul, it was a brownout plunging Greater Manila into a darkness only relieved by a full moon just five minutes before President Marcos was to deliver a speech on the crippling jeepney strike that transformed “the richest man in Asia”—as his enemies call him—into a protector of the common people, the leader, as he would like to style himself, of a popular revolution from the top. “Revolution from the top,” an old slogan used with no effect during last year’s student riots, will become a reality at last!
Convinced that the brownout was not an accident but contrived by the Lopezes, who own the controlling stock of the Meralco, to humiliate him and exacerbate the tensions generated by a seemingly insoluble strike—which he suspected was inspired and financed by the same party—President Marcos publicly pointed at the Lopezes an accusing finger, calling them the most malevolent of the oligarchs who are strangling the common people with high prices.
In the darkness, before a dead microphone, what he had wanted was not light but electricity which would give him the voice to reach his people, for whom he was no longer the President of the Republic but a dangerous nuisance they would have to endure for three awful years more because he has the armed forces at his beck and call.
The increasing cost of living is responsible for the credibility gap, the President is aware. He insists, however, that the blame be not placed on him. True, he had devalued the peso, but it was the increase in Meralco rates that started the spiraling of prices.
The Lopezes, he said, had tried to intimidate him into approving several projects of dubious advantage to the nation. One of these would give them a monopoly of this country’s oil supply. They had threatened, if he did not accede to their request, to launch a vehement campaign in the media they own to discredit him before the nation.
(Vice-President Lopez resigned from the Marcos Cabinet. The Department of Agriculture, which he had charge of, is one of the few departments that exudes a good smell. But he had to go—and he did.)
Labor groups, said the President, have been clamoring for a rollback of the new Meralco rates—“one of the major causes for the spiraling of prices of all other prime commodities.” He has, therefore, ordered a restudy of the Public Service Commission decision granting the Meralco increased rates up to 54 percent over the previous rates.
Emilio Abello, chairman of the board of directors of the Meralco, criticized the President’s move for a retrial of the Meralco case.
“The President should know that under our system of the tripartite separation of powers and under a rule of law, the President of the Republic should not directly or indirectly interfere in the free and untrammeled exercise by the Supreme Court of its powers under the Constitution.”
If the trade unions are really intent on rolling back the Meralco rates, said Abello, “they should ask the President to roll back the rate of exchange from over P6 to $1 to the previous rate of P3.90 to $1, and we will immediately also roll back our present increased rates to what they were before the floating rate.”
President Marcos said that the favorable PSC decision on the Meralco case was achieved by bribery. The Meralco, which has an income of P93 million annually, pays only 25% on its income instead of 75% because the Lopezes were able to have a bill passed in Congress requiring the Meralco to pay only that comparatively small amount, said the President.
Labor, the President went on, has answered his call to arms and has rallied to his side. Labor leaders submitted a resolution encouraging the fight against the “oligarchs.” The resolution, according to the President, clearly proves just where the sympathies of labor truly lie—with him!
The next day, however, the President was criticized by the labor leaders for “giving a slant to the resolution” they had given him.
“We are not for anybody,” said Roberto S. Oca, president of the Pinagbuklod na Manggagawang Pilipino. The workers had been invited to the Palace and they could not refuse, said Oca. “As union men,” Oca went on, “we would be untrue to our cause if we didn’t support any effort for the uplift of the groaning workers.”
The unions, he said, are not only interested in rolling back the new Meralco rates but also the price of fuel and other products as well. The President, said Oca, even promised to go after businesses supposedly owned by his “cronies.”
“If the President reneges on his promise,” Oca warned, “then the workers will join the activists in the streets.”
The labor leader concluded by saying, “I will never allow myself and labor to be made an instrument of President Marcos to put down the Lopezes. I am closer to Vice-President Lopez than to anybody else.”
Cipriano Cid, national president of the Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions, and of the Lapiang Manggagawa sa Filipinas, denounced Malacañang’s efforts to use the labor groups to serve its own selfish purposes, as Cid put it.
“The practice of professional labor leaders who flop over to the politicians whenever an opportunity arises to publicly declare their ready subservience is a highly condemnable practice which has retarded the progress of labor all these years,” said Cid.
“If the trade unions and labor leaders had noted deterioration of any matter prejudicial to the workers economically or socially, they could have spoken without waiting to be called and be used for purposes other than their own.
“They had to use President Marcos and Malacañang as a forum for their traditional subservience to politicians and government officials at the sacrifice of their cause and their own dignity and independence.
“No wonder Filipinos and foreigners, particularly Americans, feel they can use Filipino unions and their leaders as doormats.”
Cid informed Secretary Allegedly of Labor Blas Ople that he was aware of Malacañang’s “efforts to promote and continue dividing the labor front by the formation of multiple labor centers with the support of the President and the Labor Department.” For labor to be effective in its demands, it must be united, he said. But the Marcos administration has made it a policy to establish many centers of authority in the labor movement.
“We do not deny any damn fool’s right to form and organize any and all kinds of unions to his heart’s content if this would satisfy his vanity and his ends but not with the open support of the President and his labor secretary,” Cid concluded.
Unfazed by labor’s repudiation of his “revolution,” the President declared that he would fight the cartels and monopolies “to the finish.”
“It is high time that we did something about them. And we are now moving against these business and political empires for the good of the state.”
It was not desire for revenge but the interests of the people that motivated his “revolts,” according to the President.
“I did not ask for this fight. I am a patient man but I will not run from a fight, especially from those who seek to further their own selfish interests at the expense of all, particularly of the poor.”
President Marcos vowed that he would end once and for all the control of big sectors of the media by vested interest groups. These groups cannot be made to account for their actions, according to the President, since they control so much of the press, radio and television. There is no way to bring their anomalies to public notice.
“This only proves my earlier statements that it is dangerous for any single man or group to own such a substantial portion of the media in the country, without having to account for it to the people.”
The Roces and Prietos are not only in the lumber industry, the movie business, real estate and racing but also in the publishing business, with the Manila Times, the Daily Mirror, Taliba, Women’s Magazine, and in radio and television.
The Elizaldes are not only in sugar, rope, rhum, steel but also in publishing, with the Evening News and The Sun, and in radio and television.
Hans Menzi is in zippers, fruit, and has just gotten a huge loan from the government or a government guarantee of one for a paper mill or something—and is also in publishing, with Manila Daily Bulletin and Liwayway.
The Sorianos have beer, ice cream, soft drinks, Bislig, and so forth and so on—and also the Philippines Herald and Channel 13.
And there is President Marcos’s own close associate, Roberto Benedicto, who is not only in this and that but also in television, having acquired for himself and others (?) at something like P10 million the formerly Lopez-owned Channel 9.
Not only the Lopezes but also these would come under the presidential classification of groups that “cannot be made to account for their actions, since they control the media,” with “no way to bring their anomalies to public notice,” should they be guilty, one might add, of anomalies. There is the Department of Justice, of course, which the Presidnet could order to go after them, as he has done in the case of the Lopezes, but this is not the time to quibble with the President and his war against the oligarchs.
“Down with the oligarchs!”
To be precise, “Down with the oppressive oligarchs!” For President Marcos makes a distinction between mere oligarchs and “oppressive” oligarchs, a distinction, however, which escapes one, for what is an oligarch if not oppressive? Where would be the profit, where would be the power and the glory in being an oligarch if one did not exploit the advantages of one’s position? One might as well be a diabolist who did not go for the Black Mass or would have nothing to do with Satan. An oligarchy is government by the rich few, of the rich few and for the rich few and must necessarily be oppressive of the impoverished many. The rich are either oligarchs, and, therefore, oppressive, or they are not oligarchs at all, merely people with a lot of money. Concentrations of wealth in a few tend, however, to further concentration of wealth in ever fewer, that is, toward monopolies and cartels, and President Marcos, forgetting his distinction between mere oligarchs and “oppressive” oligarchs, announced that he would extend the Revolt of the Masses that he led to bring down monopolies and cartels outside of the Lopez economic empire. He would subject to government investigation oil companies, rumored to be operating as a cartel, that is, a conspiracy against the consumers, keeping prices up through price-fixing and suppression of competition. He would deal similarly with such public utilities as the Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company, which had increased its rates like Meralco, and airlines like Toda’s Philippine Air Lines, and the shipping lines and bus companies, presumably.
The Lopez brothers do not owe any government financial institution nor do they enjoy any government guarantee for their loans, but other “Oligarchs” are up to their eyeballs in government guarantee. Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. has furnished the Free Press with a list of those who enjoy government guarantees of loans in the tens and hundreds of millions of pesos. Among them is the Negros group which recently acquired the Esso fertilizer plant through a huge government guarantee. And there is the Elizalde Steel Rolling Mills, Inc., which enjoys a government guarantee of a loan in the tens of millions of pesos. And the Iligan Integrated Steel Mills, Inc., which, also according to the senator, enjoys a government guarantee of five hundred million or half a billion pesos! These are completely at the mercy of the Marcos administration. Any complaint, for instance, of undue increase in the price of fertilizer or discriminatory conduct on the part of the fertilizer company should bring down upon the head of the management the wrath of the Leader of the Revolt against the Oligarchs—Oppressive Style.
Complaints against the price of steel, which is so essential to the industrialization of the country, should lead to quick and ruthless presidential action against the Elizalde Steel Rolling Mills and Iligan Integrated Steel Mills.
“Bethlehem Steel Gives in to Nixon: Price Cut Ok’d.”
It can happen here under the new Marcos dispensation.
And naturalized Chinese who control the food supply have been designated by the President as special targets of investigation. In other words, watch out, Antonio Roxas Chua and others—however much you might have contributed to President Marcos’s campaign for reelection! This is the new Marcos and no “oppressor” of the people will be spared.
“X-Y-Z” should tremble before the wrath to come.
Encouraging the President, “a majority party congressman urged President Marcos to expand his crackdown on economic oligarchy to include giant private corporations in which the government has substantial investments,” according to an Evening News report last week.
“Rep. Gaudencio Beduya (N, Cebu) said he had in mind private firms in which the government has sunk hundreds of millions of pesos in investments with very little hope of at least recovering them.”
The handwriting on the wall?
Is the “revolution from the top” finally here?
With such a revolution going on, President Marcos, assured of the support of the broad masses of the people, as the communist jargon goes, would no longer need a huge military establishment in order to maintain his establishment. There would be no need to spend P700 million a year for the armed forces. Against whom would they be defending this regime? Huks would be defecting to the government side as the Marcos-led Revolt of the Masses becomes even more revolting to the Oligarchy. The money saved by reducing drastically the army budget could go into the massive implementation of land reform, finally liberating the toiling peasants from their ancient bondage to feudalism as practiced by some of the President’s best friends.
“Arise, ye wretched of the earth, and follow the Leader!” (The President, not the magazine.) “You have nothing to lose but your change.
“You have a world to win!”
Then comes the dawn.
Malacañang vs. Meralco
by E. R. Kiunisala
It’s a “Fight to the Finish” Between President Marcos and The Brothers Lopez.
January 30, 1971–IT WAS the surprise of surprises—it came like a bolt out of the blue, setting the country all agog, leaving politicians and businessmen on tenterhooks.
Until then, nobody thought that the six-year old political marriage between Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos and the Lopez brothers, Eugenio, Sr., and Fernando, the Vice-President, would ever be dissolved. After all, the common belief was: what politics has joined together, not even the public interest can put asunder.
But the political divorce is now a fait accompli and it is fast developing into a full-scale war between Malacañang and Meralco, the financial bastion of the Lopezes. Malacañang has opened fire at the Meralco and the latter fired back in kind.
A “fight to the finish,” declared Marcos.
“So be it” might well be the reply of the Lopezes.
January 23, 1971–THOSE who lived through the Japanese Occupation, and that includes Pres. Ferdinand Marcos himself, know what a total horror it was, how people were tortured and heads cut off on mere suspicion of resistance to Japanese military rule—and how it did not discourage resistance. Everybody was a guerrilla, or claimed he was.
President Marcos keeps hinting at the imposition of military law on the Filipino people when he does not hint at the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. With the suspension of the writ, President Marcos could order the arrest of anyone and keep him or her in prison or in a concentration camp at his pleasure—that is, indefinitely. With the imposition of martial law, that is, the establishment of a military dictatorship, “Congress might as well close up,” as one congressman has observed. And the courts might as well close up, too, for Marcos would have absolute power. The independence of Congress and the Judiciary would be a thing of the past. Marcos’s rule would be absolute. He would be king.
Is the fate in store for the Filipino people to live under the sovereign will of “King Ferdinand”—and “Queen Imelda”?
As noted in the article beginning on page 2, the demonstrations in the United States have been marked by violence which makes the demonstrations here models of law and order by comparison. A magazine, Scanlans, features in one of its issues “Guerrilla Warfare in the U.S.A.,” and presents, in a most graphic fashion, the almost countless acts of sabotage, dynamiting, attacks on persons in authority and other acts of war against the government and the Establishment it is supporting—yet the American president, Richard Nixon, has never ventured to speak of the possibility of suspending the writ or imposing martial law. Were he to do so, he would be promptly impeached and removed from office.
Why does President Marcos keep on talking about suspending the writ or imposing martial law? One would think he could hardly wait to do so. And what good would that do? What good would that do him? Never mind what good it would do the country, but what good wold to do him? Having imposed martial law and become a dictator, how could he ever leave Malacañang and rejoin a people finally free of his rule? He must be a dictator for life to be secure.
He’d never be safe otherwise, no more than the Japanese—what was his name?—who headed the Kempetai could have lived with any sense of security among Filipinos once the Japanese forces had been disarmed. As a matter of fact, the Marcos Administration is reaching the point of no return to a democratic regime, for with so many young Filipinos killed merely for demonstrating against the manifest injustices of the government, how safe would Marcos & Co. be when no longer in power? Could Marcos afford to be no longer in Malacañang if more of the young should be slaughtered?
Was it necessary or wise to arm government forces with Armalites to maintain order during the demonstration in Plaza Miranda last week? Armalites are used in war. (The Americans use them in their war in Vietnam.) Has Marcos declared war on demonstrators, whose right to demonstrate he continually affirms—after all, it is a constitutional right and he is supposed to uphold the Constitution—that he must have his forces armed with Armalites when they confront the demonstrators?
Is there a war on?
The British, confronted with rampaging Chinese Communists in Hong Kong at the height of the Cultural Revolution, kept their cool. They sent police with only truncheons to meet the mob. If the mob should break through the police lines, it would be met with police armed with tear gas and riot guns. Only if the demonstrators should be able to overwhelm the second police contingent would the government give them the works. Armalites are the works—and the Marcos regime resorted to their use last week, killing four and wounding many others—almost as a matter of course.
After “Black Wednesday,” military rule and a Marcos dictatorship would seem to be an inevitable development. The further use of Armalites against demonstrators and the slaughter of more who cannot stomach the Marcos Administration would make it certain.
What would life under Marcos dictatorship be like—and its political and other consequences of the Republic?
With the courts and Congress reduced to impotence and the independent press shut up—with publishers who dare to disagree with Marcos placed under house arrest or in concentration camps where they would be joined sooner or later by outraged justices of the Supreme Court, senators and representatives who would not lick the boots of Marcos, as well as others who would not submit to tyranny—the nation would be “polarized.” the Philippines would be divided into Marcos collaborators and those who love liberty and are branded “misguided elements” (as during the Japanese Occupation) and declared enemies of the Marcos state.
Marcos, as a former guerrilla leader, should know how the Japanese failed to stop the Resistance against their rule. The more atrocities the Japanese committed, the more Filipinos they tortured and killed—the more joined the Underground. It became a matter of honor to do something against the oppressors, whether it be merely to contribute money to the guerrillas or to commit some act of sabotage against the government if not actually to go to the mountains and take up arms against the regime. Filipinos in tremendous numbers found they were not afraid to die for freedom. They were suddenly free from fear. Marcos himself got a lot of medals for not being afraid, and many more showed the same lack of fear though they got no medals for it. The country became one vast concentration camp except when men dared to be free.
Life under a regime of martial law or a Marcos military dictatorship would be little different from life during the Japanese Occupation. How many would submit to it? And how would Marcos ever dare restore civil law? Would he dare to leave Malacañang? Would he not be compelled to declare himself President for life, that is, a dictator forever? And how long would “forever” be?
Our republican institutions suffer from corruption but they do guarantee certain civil liberties—like freedom from arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention without trial and the right to demonstrate peaceably against the government for redress of grievances and to write an editorial like this. The denial of such liberties in all-too-many cases does not argue against the goodness of the institutions. Because there are thieves does not make the law against theft a bad one but only makes enforcement of the law more necessary than ever. Under our republican institutions we enjoy certain liberties, to repeat—if not too much economic progress. Justice is often mocked, true, but under a military dictatorship, there would be no justice at all, no liberty at all, and even less progress than ever. The entire economy would be organized into a government corporation run by Marcos & Co., and one has just to contemplate how Nawasa, the Philippine National Railways and other government corporations are run to know how the people would suffer under such a regime.
Only Marcos & Co. would profit from martial law. They should. They would be the law. The rest of us would be mere subjects—or outlaws.
Those who wish the President well should advise him to stop talking about martial law. Whatever he and his friends get out of it—would it really be worth it?