As we approach the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by Ferdinand Marcos Sr. on September 21, 1972, BAYAN USA joins the waves of Filipinos and supporters across the US, Philippines, and the globe who are honoring the over 100,000 victims of atrocities under the Iron Fist dictatorship of the US-backed Marcos regime that lasted until February 1986. We commemorate the history, learn the lessons and honor the victims by continuing the struggle for justice, accountability, and genuine democracy, as the return of the Marcoses to Malacanang has already led to increasing military dominance and suppression of people’s rights in less than 3 months.
Remember the Victims, Combat Historical Revisionism
No amount of campaigning by the Marcos dynasty to revise the history books and control the mainstream narrative of history can erase the FACT that Martial Law under Marcos Sr. spelled horror and atrocities for the Filipino people. It remains a FACT that martial law was a tool of Marcos Sr. to quell the growing unrest and resistance of the Filipino people over the vast landlessness, poverty, hunger and indebtedness that was plaguing Philippine society and paving the way for social movements to emerge.
At the core of the dire economic situation of the Philippines at the time was the excessive loan borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank combined with the rampant cronyism and fiscal mismanagement under Ferdinand Marcos Sr, under whose regime the Philippine national debt ballooned 4300% from $600 million USD to $22 billion USD by the time he was ousted by popular uprising.
Filipino youth throughout the country organized against the presence in the country of US military bases, used as launching pads for the US invasion of Vietnam. At home in the rural countryside, the majority of the population living as farmers, peasants, indigenous and Bangsamoro peoples bore the daily brunt of violent militarization, strafing, and hamleting by the Philippine military and paramilitary groups, who claimed they were fighting the communist rebels but were in fact forcibly clearing vast tracks of land for massive land grabbing by foreign investors and private companies owned by Marcos’ cronies.
Fascism Continues Under Marcos Jr.
State terrorism and a legacy of impunity continues under the Marcos Jr. regime. The rise of arbitrary arrests and political prisoners has swelled to over 800, including peasants, indigenous leaders, health workers, church people, and human rights defenders such as Adora Faye de Vera. De Vera, a peasant organizer, was first unjustly arrested, tortured, and brutally raped by 11 soldiers during Martial Law under Ferdinand Marcos Sr. Now at age 68, she faces trumped up charges and imprisonment under Marcos Jr. Marcos Jr. promises to uphold Duterte’s fascist policies such as the Anti-Terror Law, paving the way for more corruption, abuse, and misuse of funds for counterinsurgency.
As it stands today, the Philippine economy is at its weakest in 70 years. While agriculture remains the main source of livelihood for the Philippine majority, it has the smallest share of the country’s GDP at 9.6% in 2021. Manufacturing is also at its smallest since 1950 at 19.2%. The new budget introduced by Marcos Jr. is the largest in history at Php 5.268 trillion for fiscal year 2023. But instead of squarely addressing the underdevelopment of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, which are at the root of joblessness and poverty in the Philippines, Marcos Jr. is prioritizing infrastructure, debt servicing and militarism. This also comes at the expense of public health, education, pandemic relief, disaster aid, and overall social welfare. Furthermore, it is no secret that massive infrastructure projects in the Philippines are fertile grounds for pork barrel spending and kickbacks for corrupt politicians, as demonstrated by Marcos Sr.
The social unrest and crisis pushed by systemic economic plunder, and corruption of the Marcos dynasty was the basis for the declaration of martial law in 1972. That same basic unrest and crisis pushed by the same economic factors in the Philippines still exists to this day, with no real end in sight under Marcos Jr. With the National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict boosted with a bigger budget and the enforcement of the Anti-Terror Law, not only does the suppression of people’s rights continue, so do soaring inflation, economic plunder and cronyism.
Repression Breeds Resistance, Tuloy Ang Laban
Despite its advances, the return of the Marcos regime has only fueled the stronger fire of a growing movement in the Philippines, the US, and across the globe. A new generation of student activists, organizers, artists, and workers, has only added to the rich legacy and experiences of Martial Law survivors and the generations who fought in previous struggles.
As long as the fundamental character of Philippine society remains unchanged, so too does the basis for crisis and revolution, for state repression and a people’s revolutionary movement.
The brutal years of fascism under Marcos Sr. up until Marcos Jr. are no match to the centuries the Filipino people have been resisting tyranny and fighting for national liberation. Beginning with the Katipunan in 1896, to the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964, to the establishment of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in 1985, the struggle for national independence and genuine democracy continues to withstand and surmount the test of time and the iron fist of state repression. The rising Philippine rural majority suffering in the countryside, striking laborers in the cities and overseas, and all marginalized sectors of society honor the bloodshed and sacrifice of thousands by continuing this fight out of love for land and country. The most important inspiration for today’s fighting Filipinos is not only the commitment of those who rose to the occasion before us, but the revolutionary optimism and hope for a free, democratic, and prosperous Philippines attainable for future generations.
Never again! Never forget!
Tuloy ang laban! The fight continues!
Justice for the victims of martial law and US-Marcos dictatorship!
Resist Historical Revisionism! Defend the truth!
Visit neveragainneverforget.org to search for a protest near you, sign the Martial Law @ 50 unity statement, donate to grassroots organizers, and take other forms of action.