FROM Proclamation 1081 of Sept. 21, 1972 to the COVID-19 pandemic is quite a long time — 48 years — but Filipinos, both those alive in 1972-1986 and those who were born after this period, will always be divided in their historical perspectives of what happened then.
Last year, students from the University of the Philippines and other colleges, along with young professionals, gathered at Rizal Park to recall and condemn the declaration of martial law by former President Ferdinand Marcos. We noted then that the martial law period was a chapter in our history that these young people did not personally witness. Their condemnation and rage against Marcos, his family and cronies, including the whole political system that he created called New Society, necessarily came from secondary sources.
Today, several “progressive” groups and activists will defy the pathogen and again demonstrate to mark the anniversary of martial law, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that is still ravaging the country.
‘When others folded up in the face of arrest of their editors and publishers, frequent military raids on their editorial offices… ’
Protesters will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at 9 a.m. at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, followed by a rally at UP Diliman. Fiery speeches will again be heard, we suppose, from such leaders of the Left as Neri Colmenares, Renato Reyes and Teddy Casiño. Already, Colmenares has cautioned about the “lessons of martial law” and Reyes has said, “Parang throwback itong Duterte administration. It feels very much like 1972.”
Activist Sister Mary John Mananzan who personified dissent in the 1980s was quoted by reporters as saying: “Dapat lahat tayo magsabi sa bayan na, `Never again to martial law.’
This is worse than the pandemic.” Mananzan referred to the “current rise of state terrorism, tyranny, and weaponizing the law” — issues that she and the rest of the Left cabal believe in, but are of course still subject to a more objective and detached intellectual discourse.
No other newspaper in the country still in print today can hold a candle to Malaya in terms of suffering and sacrificing in the name of truth in journalism during martial law. When others folded up in the face of arrest of their editors and publishers, frequent military raids on their editorial offices, surveillance and other harassment activities, Malaya raised the banner of press freedom when it was life-threatening to do so.
Malaya stands on its own record of exemplary adherence to the tradition and tenets of fair and good journalism, even when times were hard and those in the media community had to live dangerously.
But it is also in pursuance of fair play and correct historical perspectives that media, the civil society, and the general public should digest the messages aired by these protesters who are always looking for faults in the government, as if the Duterte administration cannot do anything right.
Martial law had been water under the bridge since long, long ago and there is no sense for the Yellows and the Left (what strange bedfellows locked in a marriage of convenience) to pound on their perceive ills of Marcos’ martial rule to hit President Duterte.
Just look at the measly number of people they mobilize in these protests to know that their “panawagan” has a tepid response from the masses.