INSIGHT AVENUE
#NeverAgain
by Lea Sicat Reyes

With us enjoying our freedoms at the present, let us recall a time when this was not the case. When Martial law was declared more than twenty years ago, our civil liberties were automatically suspended. While there are too many things to discuss, I just want to focus on things that we probably take for granted now.

Appreciate balanced news

The government strictly controlled the media. There were only three national broadsheets that were allowed: Times Journal, Daily Express, and Bulletin Today. All of them published pro-administration articles. Any journalist who dared to oppose the Marcos regime was “invited” for questioning by the military. Most of them were never heard of again.

No anime

That’s right, kids. No anime. Seems crazy, right? But this was very true. Voltes V, for example, was banned right after it came out. The reason? The government said it was too violent for children. The truth? Voltes V had a rebellious theme, that of standing against a corruption and fighting for freedom and defending “the little people.” That theme, predictably, did not sit well with the administration since it seemed to mirror the Marcos leadership so Voltes V alongside Daimos and Mazinger Z were banned from television.

Shush!

At present, we can say anything and post anything on our social media spaces. We can voice our concerns against government and feel safe knowing that we have the freedom to speak what is on our minds. At that time, it sure was not the case. You could be picked up anytime just because you had a differing opinion. Many young people, both boys and girls, suffered this fate, some never made it back home. Some bodies were recovered, most if not all bearing signs of gruesome deaths (gouged eyes, sexual assault, crushed balls, missing limbs, you get the point). Opposition was silenced by fear. There are still hundreds of families at present who never recovered the bodies of their loved ones.

What justice?

Laws did not offer protection to citizens. You could be arrested or detained without evidence. Torture and salvaging were but a way of life. Juan Ponce Enrile, a crony before he fled to the other side, was famously quoted to have said, “We presume that priests and nuns charged with subversive activities are guilty until the courts decide whether they are guilty or not.” The Writ of Habeas Corpus was also suspended. This Writ directs a person, usually a prison warden, to present to the family the prisoner alive and well. The prisoner’s detention must also be justified and if the incarceration is proved to be unconstitutional, the court must order the prisoner’s release. With this Writ being suspended, anyone could be imprisoned without due cause. The worst part? Most people who were “invited” for questioning were never heard of again. This is the primary reason why I felt so appalled when Sen. Gordon called for the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus just a month ago. Coupled with the current dialogue regarding the war on drugs, it’s enough to send chills down one’s spine.

While one would say our economy performed excellently during the time of Marcos and infrastructures sprouted like mushroom, here are actual facts taken from The Social Scientist that are well worth pondering:

“FM’s infrastructure projects were funded by loans from foreign creditors such as the IMF and the World Bank. Hence, Philippine foreign debt surged from $360 million in 1962 to $28.3 billion in 1986. Morever, Marcos and his allies are known to overprice these infrastructure projects in order to siphon kickbacks amounting to billions of dollars for their own personal whims.

As for the economy being the best during Marcos’ term, no statistical record can substantiate this. Numbers don’t lie and even the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has released records of the peso-dollar exchange being at P3.50 to a dollar in 1966 after Marcos came to power. When he left in 1986, it was at P20.53 to a dollar! Moreover, our gross domestic product (the total amount of products and services produced in the country) dropped from 3.4% in 1966 to 1.4% in 1986. We fared poorly compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors who fielded better GDPs such as Thailand (5.3%), Singapore (7.7%), Indonesia (5.7%), and Malaysia (5.1%). Thus, despite “revolutionary” programs such as the “Green Revolution” (which were funded by loans), many Filipinos (especially in the countryside) suffered great poverty because of their inability to adopt and adjust to new farming techniques introduced by the regime which were beneficial only to the landed elite. Between 1972 and 1980, agricultural output went down by 30%, unemployment exploded from 6.8% in 1972 to 27.65% in 1985, thus leading to a 40% hunger and malnutrition rate among the general population in 1978 (when Martial Law was at its peak).”


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