“[THE DECLARATION of Martial Law] can happen, but only if you let it happen. ‘Pag pinabayaan niyong mangyari, ‘pag ‘di kayo kumilos, mangyayari.”
This was the challenge of anti-Martial Law advocates to Thomasians in a forum held Feb. 24 in commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA Revolution.
Ana Elzy Ofreneo, Commission on Human Rights director for human rights promotion, said the youth should remember and act against what transpired during the Martial Law period, which she claimed to be a “horrible experience to everyone.”
“Tyrants rule when the people are meek and silent. Marcos […] showed that [Martial Law] does not work as a model for development because as the saying goes, ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely,’” Ofreneo said.
The youth played an important role during the EDSA Revolution that led to the end of Marcos’ presidency, People Power veteran and former congressman Teodoro Casiño also reminded the students.
“Very young people in their late teens, in their early 20s dared to fight the dictatorship. Parang Katipunan kung titingnan natin ‘yung history books natin. […] Young people were [at] the forefront of educating themselves and our people, organizing and mobilizing against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship,” Casiño said.
“EDSA was 14 years of the people’s struggle, hindi lang ‘yung mga Aquino, hindi lang ‘yung mga liberal. It’s a real people’s movement. Hindi lang ‘yung mga pulitiko kundi ‘yung mga ordinaryong tao,” he added.
Thousands of Filipinos gathered at EDSA from Feb. 22 to 25, 1986, wanting freedom from then president Marcos who was later forced to flee the country after ruling for over two decades.
Bonifacio Ilagan, lead convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to the Malacañang, stressed that the Marcoses’ return to power will restore the “Marcosian ideology,” which he defined as “a governance framework that rests dependent on a strong one-man rule and that ruler cannot be doubted and cannot be questioned.”
“Pag-aralan ninyo (students) nang mabuti ang kasaysayan. Humango kayo ng aral, ilatag niyo ito sa kasalukuyan and take a stand,” Ilagan said. “Sa aming panahon, we did something. You have to do something, too, in your time. Magkaisa tayo gaya sa nangyari sa EDSA noong 1986.”
The forum titled Never Again?: A Discourse on the Realities of Martial Law was organized by The Political Science Forum. F VANN MARLO M. VILLEGAS