Statement on the 51st Anniversary of Martial Law
On September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. unleashed full-blown dictatorship by declaring martial law over the Philippines. His military rule plunged the country deep into debt, economic crisis, and unspeakable violence against the people. Fifty-one years later, the dictator’s son, Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., has clawed his way back to the highest seat of power. And while BBM desperately tries to wash the blood from his family’s name, BAYAN USA marks this anniversary by pledging to never forget the atrocities of the Marcos Dictatorship.
BBM has rebranded his father’s promises for economic prosperity — from Bagong Lipunan to Bagong Pilipinas — vowing to bring rice down to 20 pesos per kilo and to make the Philippines an upper middle-income country within a few years. Instead, people have faced skyrocketing prices of food and basic goods, and no real increase in the minimum wage to the point that workers’ real wages today — P610 ($11) per day in the National Capital Region, the highest in the country — are worth less than they were decades ago.
The regime’s proposed 2024 national budget does nothing to solve this economic crisis. Instead, it increases the national debt to a record-breaking P15.8 trillion ($285 million), making the debt burden on each Filipino P144,000 ($2,592). To add insult to injury, BBM has continued his family’s brazen extravagance, spending the people’s money to travel the world to watch F-1 racing and for other excursions, all while the everyday family struggles to put food on the table.
From martial law of the past to the Terror Law and whole of nation approach of the present, fascist political repression also continues under Marcos Jr.’s regime. The recent testimonies of Jhed and Jonila — two young environmental rights activists who tirelessly worked to organize fisherfolk in the Manila Bay against land reclamation — all but confirm this. We salute Jhed and Jonila for bravely exposing the military and the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Community Armed Conflict), who abducted them and coerced them to “surrender.”
Their story is all too familiar for the over 1.6 million victims of violations of civil and political rights by the Marcos Jr. regime. While martial law is not declared in name, it is no secret that Marcos has militarized the entire bureaucracy: from continuation of Duterte’s Anti-Terror Council and NTF-ELCAC, to appointing 17 members of his cabinet as Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security for the NTF, to stashing billions of pesos away in shady Confidence and Intelligence Funds for civilian agencies.
Filipinos in the US have a direct stake in ending the perpetuation of fascism in the Philippines. After all, it was the economic crisis and political instability under Marcos Sr. that prompted him to institutionalize the export of labor abroad rather than address the lack of livelihood in the country. BBM has further entrenched the labor export policy, marketing our people as commodities through the Department of Tourism and in his travels abroad. He has done nothing, however, to ensure their rights and welfare abroad. Funds for assistance to overseas nationals decreased in Marcos’ proposed 2024 budget. Those who have tried to request for aid — like the Roque family, who experienced an anti-Asian hate crime in Los Angeles — are met with surveillance, gaslighting, and just crumbs of the budget allocated precisely for overseas Filipinos in their situation.
Even after Marcos Sr. was overthrown, the Filipino masses — including those of us overseas — never stopped fighting fascism. This time last year, BAYAN USA confronted Marcos Jr. in New York during his address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law. The actions led to the arrest of three queer Filipino activists — the Makibeki NYC 3 — who bravely rejected this offensive display of historical revisionism. This past week, BAYAN USA mobilized again during the UNGA alongside the Malaya Movement USA to commemorate the 51st anniversary of Martial Law, and the 1st anniversary of the Makibeki NYC 3’s arrest. Their example, alongside so many other brave Filipinos, reminds us to remain steadfast and courageous in the face of rising fascism and state repression.
So long as the fundamental problems of Philippine society remain, so, too, do the people’s fundamental right and duty to organize and fight for genuine change, by any means necessary. We offer our highest salute to all martyrs of people’s struggle for national democracy, whether legal activists or revolutionary freedom fighters, from the Marcos regime of the past to the one of the present. We pay special tribute to one of the people’s most recent martyrs, Kaerlan “Lala” Fanaguel, whom many of our members met while campaigning for the defense of Lumad land, education, and life against state violence and corporate plunder.
We call on the Filipino people and our allies to join us not only in saying “never again” to fascist dictatorship, but in building the mass movement to make that a reality. Join us in actions across the U.S. this September, as well as this November to confront Marcos Jr. himself at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leadership Summit in San Francisco.
Never again to martial law! Never again to the Marcos Dictatorship!
Abolish the NTF-ELCAC! Junk the Anti-Terror Law! Junk CIF!
Services, not surveillance for Filipinos overseas!
Struggle for national democracy!