Duterte declares martial law—September 22, 2017

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MAURO GIA SAMONTE

That’s the common headline of newspaper stories and news broadcasts on radio and on television, and of posts in the social media come the stipulated date. That is, if history proves consistent with itself.

There have been only two occasions in the Philippine past when martial law was imposed. One, of course, was the Marcos Martial Law declared in Proclamation 1081, September 22, 1972. This is the martial law people invariably recall whenever they talk of martial law in the Philippines. Little known is the fact that one more martial law was declared in the history of the country, and that was the martial law during the Japanese occupation.

Wartime Philippine President Dr. Jose P. Laurel, had been under pressure from Japanese Premier Hideki Tojo, since as early as the inauguration of the wartime Philippine Republic, to declare war against the United States and Great Britain. Dr. Laurel had successfully parried off that Japanese demand for more than a year. But came 1944 when the Allied forces bombed Davao as a signal of their return to the country, the President felt finally cornered. In the face of attacks on the territory of the Philippines by the returning allies, President Laurel found no more reason to delay the proclamation of martial law. Two days after, he made a declaration that a state of war existed between the Philippines and the United States and Great Britain.

Actually it was a hallmark of President Laurel’s wisdom and statesmanship that even as he appeared to be acquiescing to the Japanese demand, he made sure to mandate that no Filipino would be conscripted in the Japanese army. In his eventual trial for treasonable collaboration in 1946, President Laurel argued that by declaring a state of war between the Philippines and the United States and Great Britain, but mandating that no Filipino would be conscripted in the Japanese army, he did not give the Japanese anything that they did not already have; in fact, he gave them nothing. Anyway this digression is made here in order to set the proper context for that other declaration of martial law in the country’s history.


How lovely history is. You turn its pages to know what happened in the past, only to discover that what happened then is happening today. What else, for instance, was Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere then but the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) now.

Hakko Ichiu was the term applied to the Japanese concept of “eight crown cords, one roof” or “all the world under one roof” which in the hands of Japanese militarists became the fundamental war strategy fleshed out in their war propaganda for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Was it any different from the OBOR China is currently promoting? The idea in this current effort is ostensibly to achieve interconnectivity and cooperation between China and the rest of Eurasia, but since China is the main initiator – as Japan was in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere scheme – it certainly becomes the “one roof” under which the OBOR must fall. And as Japan occupied the Marianas and other islands in the Pacific prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941, so what war is the current occupation by China of the Spratlys, the Scarborough Shoal and other reefs in the South China (West Philippine) Sea prior to?

When I was teaching history at the World Citi College, I was fond of reminding my classes that history does not just happen, history is made. And who else can make history but those in power to make it? In China, it had been Mao Zedong’s teaching that people, not things decide matters, the making of history included. Whether an act of self-abnegation, a political pretense, or simply a case of oversight, the great Chinese leader failed to mention that the Chinese people were doing the history of overthrowing imperialism in China at his bidding. In due time, the dream of socialism and communism that was the main motive force of the Chinese people in making the history of the overthrow of imperialism was forever subsumed to what is believed now to be a calibrated capitalism. Proof that far from being makers of history, the people invariably end up instead victims of history.

The Filipino people are now in that category. Having high hopes of change, they elected Duterte president, only to find themselves, even just into the Digong’s first 100 days in office; as the object of his atrocities.
Grieving over the corpse of her brother slain on suspicion of illegal drugs pushing, a woman denied the suspicion, lamenting that the victim was a Duterte supporter and voted for the President.

In Greek tragedy, that’s what you call irony. You do something in order to avert a perceived disaster, only to discover to your dismay that what you did at the start is the very cause for such disaster to take place ultimately.

Look how everybody seems to even delight at Duterte’s flailing the red banner of military rule.

I got this information that Secretary to the Cabinet Jun Evasco has embarked on organizing a third armed force, separate from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). What is this third armed force but for propping up a military regime, something which the present military leaders reportedly are not agreeable to. Considering further that these military leaders are prone to follow dictates from Washington, they should prove anathema to any Duterte plan of military dictatorship – unless America condones it.

America condoned it in Marcos for long fourteen years. Why won’t America condone it in Digong as well? Or condone it in his replacement, in such eventuality in any case. Marcos declared martial law to avert imminent communist takeover of the government. Now that perceived communists are in effective control of a sizeable portion of the government, might it not be best for US to find somebody manageable and put her in Digong’s place? In which event, Duterte is forced to deal his last card: martial law.

Toward this end, the works, so to speak, have begun. The organization of the third armed force cited above is one. Duterte’s frenzied wooing of enlisted men and junior officers of the men in uniform is another. And the decisive move is the reported inclusion of top generals in the touted President’s new list of protectors in government of the illegal drugs trade. In that list reportedly are top military officers and local executives.
So martial law, whether for or against him, is up to Duterte’s sole making?

The only question unanswered here is: When?

If history chooses to be consistent with itself, Duterte’s declaration of martial law must come on the date Marcos did it in 1972 and Dr. Laurel did it in 1944 –September 22. TODAY.

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10 Comments

  1. The only way that President Duterte can solve the country’s problems during his term, (drugs, corruption, the Abu Sayaf, and the Reds) is for him to make history by declaring martial law as soon as possible or NOW. PDU30 should drop his effort in negotiating with the REDS, because they wanted everything and it would be disadvantageous to the government and to the Filipino people. Declare Martial Law now to save the next generation of Filipinos and save the whole country as well. Law abiding people should not worry about martial law because PDU30 will not tolerate abusive soldiers, police force and the rest of law enforcement agencies. He will only be dealing with powerful businessmen, elected officials such as barangay chairman, mayors, governors, congress people that are into drug trade. I would like to see him to round-up all these bad people and board them on ship traveling to south on a one way trip for proper disposition. MARTIAL LAW NOW!!!

  2. Citizens of the Philippines, wake up and confront the realities of what is happening. Pay heed to the arguments raised by Mr. Samonte in this article.

  3. You think too much! Even your comparison of OBOR and the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity sphere is
    highly flawed. The OBOR is mainly a trade route restoring and expanding the silk road of old. China has not invaded any other country of the magnitude that Japan did. The south china sea issue is a very contentious one that has many geo-political implications among nations.
    And please, Pres. Cory declared a revolutionary government which was tantamount to or even greater than Martial Law.Don’t fudge the historical facts. If and when Digong would declare ML, you’ll probably volunteer to be detained and sadly, they’ll just turn you away.

  4. Indeed, the third force which is neither AFP or PNP can be likened to the National Guards that they have in the US. The various Peace and Order Councils

  5. The important date is the dates that the Constitutions were signed. They do not have a common date, or do they? When will our new one be signed or put into effect?

  6. It is nice to see that some people get it, however, I am afraid t is too late. Good bye democracy, hello dictatorship. So sad.