Liberal and Communist parties provoked martial law imposition


Second of two parts

For all their self-righteous “Never Again” mantra, and their odium against Ferdinand Marcos, it was the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines that gave the excuse for him to impose martial law, and to perpetuate himself in power beyond his constitutional term.

Perhaps in the recesses of Marcos’ mind, for this, he was so thankful at the height of his power and wealth in 1979 to Liberal Party leaders like Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Communist Party leaders Jose Ma. Sison and NPA supreme Commander Dante that he spared them from execution by musketry his court martial had condemned them to.

I asked last Monday: Despite its deep brainwashing by their US mentors in the values of democracy, why did our military support martial law when it was imposed in 1972 and throughout the 13 years it lasted?

The answer is this: the Liberal Party’s so-called “Jabidah” investigations in 1968 and the Communist Party’s bombing of this same party’s miting de avance on August 21, 1971 convinced the military — and even most of the Filipino body politic — that our democratic institutions were an utter failure, and the elites a traitorous, and opportunistic group..

I have written seven columns, in 2013 and in 2015, explaining in minute detail why the so-called Jabidah massacre of March 1968, supposedly of several young Muslims who were being trained to infiltrate Sabah and who mutinied against their Special Forces army officers, was all a hoax.

Manila Times article, when the hoax was starting to be uncovered.

Manila Times article, when the hoax was starting to be uncovered.

Dozens of hearings both in the Senate and in Congress in March and April were undertaken to uncover the supposed killings. The Liberal Party’s brightest minds such as Jovito Salonga, Ambrosio Padilla, and Benigno Aquino, Jr., and aggressive Muslim congressmen such as Speaker Pro Tempore Salipada Pendatun and Lanao del Sur representative Rasid Lucman grilled the military to admit the massacre. Even AFP Chief of Staff Manuel Yan and then Army commander Romeo Espino (who would become Chief of Staff in 1971) were summoned to the hearings.

The Jabidah circus

I’ve read the transcripts of the investigations at the hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives. They were a circus as much as they were a kangaroo court. Compared to these, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s investigations-in-aid-of persecution of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s alleged corruption look so distinguished.

The press was worse than today, and sensationalized every single allegation as true. A Manila Times banner story on April 18 screamed “I was there: Witness Bares Killings,” which even identified seven supposed military executioners of the Muslim recruits. The next day, in smaller headline types, appeared the story: “Ahid [the "witness”]changes story.” He never saw any killings, he just heard three shots in the evening.

The Liberal Party wanted to prove in the Jabidah hearings that the Army’s Special Forces massacred “many” Muslim trainees – even after searches could not find a single corpse and only a lone dubious witness claimed that there was such a massacre – in supposedly |botched operation called Merdeka. The operation was supposed to infiltrate commandos into Sabah to organize its Tausug residents to rebel against the Malaysian Federation.

Why would they do that? In 1968, Marcos became aggressive in pushing the Philippine claim that Sabah is part of its territory. The Sultan of Sulu gave Marcos the authority to pursue his proprietary claims, and talks with Malaysia were scheduled later that year on the claim – the last attempt before it would file a suit at the International Court. Marcos just was about to sign a bill that redefined the Philippines territorial baselines to include Sabah.

It was a 180-degree turnaround however for Marcos, who seemed disinterested in the Sabah claim compared to his predecessor Diosdado Macapagal whom he had defeated in the 1965 elections. Marcos in 1968 was instead portraying himself as a nationalist, and the Philippine president who would win back Sabah for the nation. That would have foiled the Liberal Party’s campaign – with the help of ABS-CBN and the Manila Chronicle after his vice president Fernando Lopez broke up with him – to portray him as corrupt.

The Jabidah affair torpedoed Marcos’ project. The allegations made so very public that the Army was training commandos to infiltrate Malaysia and even killed Muslims who purportedly refused to carry out the mission when they found out about it, gave Sabah’s first governor, Tun Mustapha, the ammo to convince his superiors to refuse all talks to settle the Sabah dispute. Worse, Mustapha retaliated by financing and training militarily the first officers’ corps of what would be the Moro National Liberation Front.

Sabah claim forgotten

Even after the hoax was exposed, Congress and the Press lost all interest in anything involving Sabah and the Philippine claim.

At the end of the day, the Liberal Party and its leader Aquino, supposedly the people’s hope at that time to defeat a corrupt president in the 1969 elections, demonstrated to the nation that they were more than willing to sacrifice national interests for their political ends, which at that time was to blacken Marcos’ reputation so much that wouldn’t even think of running for re-election.

Aquino was cunning: Even as he knew that there was no massacre as he himself interviewed the young Muslims who were supposed to have been killed, he still gave a sensational speech in the Senate, which bared to the world – and to Malaysia – that there was an army operation to claim Sabah by force.

That the military was disillusioned with democracy’s institutions was demonstrated in a full-paged ad in newspapers that expressed the accused military men’s anger and frustration, in the form of an Open Letter to the President. That such a manifesto was made public was something never before done by active military personnel.

Dramatically titled, “Last Will and Testament of a Soldier,” the letter among other points, called Congress an “Inquisition” which judged them guilty before even given fair hearings, and that the “probes were pre-set” to make them “scoundrels.” It said that the Congress had put the entire “AFP on trial” and perhaps ominously that they would rather “accept death, not dishonor.”

With military men feeling that way, angry at one of democracy’s most important institutions, it wasn’t really difficult for Marcos to convince them to destroy that institution four years later.

Fast forward to after Marcos won reelection in 1969, and Jabidah – and Sabah —were all but forgotten. Massive student demonstrations on a scale never before seen rocked the country at the start of 1970.

It was called the First Quarter Storm, the term Communist Party Chairman Jose Ma. Sison gave it. Sison plagiarized from his Lord and God Mao Zedong who called the capture of the Shanghai municipal government by his Red Guards in 1967 at the height of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution “the January Storm.”

However, unlike the Cultural Revolution that would continue for two more years, the revolutionary flow launched by the First Quarter Storm ebbed towards the end of 1970.

Big problem for Sison: Mao and his official in charge of exporting revolution, Vice-Chairman Kang Sheng, had ordered their arms industry to reverse-engineer and then manufacture 100,000 US M-14 rifles (so it couldn’t be traced to China) for delivery to the New People’s Army. The test-run for the arms shipment was scheduled in 1972.

Paid ad of military men accused in the Jabidah affair.

Paid ad of military men accused in the Jabidah affair.

But who would use the rifles? The youth of the First Quarter Storm didn’t turn out to be as many as the Red Guards Mao had. With things normalizing by the end of 1970, and so many “reformist organizations” rather than radical ones emerging out of that First Quarter Storm, the NPA wasn’t exactly really expanding by leaps and bounds.

Sison’s solution: Following Lenin’s teachings, exacerbate the “split within the ruling class” and help worsen their internecine strife so as to create a chaotic situation that would push the youth to the folds of the proletarian vanguard, and its army, the NPA.

That “operationally” meant worsening the fight between Marcos and his Nacionalista Party, on one hand, and Aquino and his Liberal Party on the other hand. The timing was perfect as senatorial elections was scheduled in November 1971.

Sison would create a scenario in which the fight every elections between the two elite parties would seem to turn bloody.

The Plaza Miranda bombing

In the evening of August 21, 1971, just as the Liberal Party was having its first speakers for its miting de avance for the senatorial elections that year, three two-man teams made up of  urban-poor youth of the First Quarter Storm lobbed grenades to the stage. The explosives killed a 5-year-old child and The Manila Times photographer Ben Roxas, and wounded most of the Liberal Party’s candidates –except of course its star candidate Benigno Aquino since he wasn’t there.

The Communist Party the next day had leaflets and posters distributed which had cartoons of Marcos wearing a Hitler-moustache and dubbed “the mad bomber.” The Liberal Party of course blamed Marcos, and only one senatorial candidate, Eddie Ilarde, was intelligent enough – or had the integrity – to claim that Marcos couldn’t have been too stupid to do something he’d be blamed for.

I’m not sure if the bombing, as Sison thought, really exacerbated the split within the ruling class to create another revolutionary flow.

When the arms shipment on a rickety ship M/V Karagatan sent by Mao arrived in July 1972, the NPA could muster only two squads to get them so that they were easily beaten back by Philippine Army troops and had to escape with only 200 of the 1,500 rifles landed.

What the Plaza Miranda bombing did was to convince the military establishment that the communists had become so ruthless and so cunning it could not be defeated through the democratic set-up.

How could they exterminate the NPA when it could use Hacienda Luisita as a refuge, when it could forge alliances with anti-Marcos political warlords, when media was controlled by a faction of the elite that was against Marcos, and with the very popular senator Ninoy being — at least they thought – the communists’ patron and who was allowed to evade the Plaza Miranda bombing?

By early 1972 the military establishment – which included AFP Chief of Staff Romeo Espino, Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel Ramos, Army Chief Rafael Zagala, Air Force Chief Jose Rancudo, and Navy Chief Hilario Ruiz and five others who were with the group dubbed the “Rolex 12” — had already agreed to impose martial law in the second half of the year.

Marcos though was clever enough – with the help of intellectuals like Onofre Corpuz and Adrian Cristobal – to formulate a bigger vision for the country beyond the need to defeat the communists. As one who identified himself as Emilio Marayag wrote in the comments section of my column last Monday:

“I was a new cadet when Martial Law was declared. Looking back I believe the main reason why the military supported Marcos was that he had a clear strategy to make the country great again: the revolution from the center strategy. Military men love to follow leaders who have clear strategy to attain a noble objective.”

Rather than a revolutionary flow, Sison’s Plaza Miranda bombing gave Marcos the perfect immediate excuse to impose martial law on this date September 23. By 1979 at the peak of his power, popularity, and wealth the Liberal Party leader was in jail and so was Sison, thanks to the martial law they helped provoke.
FB: Bobi Tiglao


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  1. Hindi ko alam sa dalawa: kung ang author at mga commenters ay mga bobo o nagbubulag bulagan lang. Simple lang kaya nagdeklara ng martial law ang apo nyo: 8 taon na presidente sya, hindi pwede reelection. Paano paraan para manatili sa pwesto, ayun loophole sa constitution, martial law! Kung hindi ba naman ganid sa kapangyarihan..

  2. Or it could be the other way around: Martial Law provoked the growth of the Communist insurgency, which grew from a few dozens to thousands. The economy also suffered. During the early years of Martial Law, the Philippine economy grew a significant amount, but this was spurred by heavy borrowing from transnational banking companies and government-to-government loans. By 1980, however, the heavy burden of foreign debt servicing took its toll in the economy, and mismanagement of important industries due to crony capitalism led the economy to a downturn. The assassination of popular opposition leader Benigno Aquino in 1983 led to the pull-out of foreign capital from the country, resulting in negative GDP growth in 1983 and 1984.

    • There’s a time element here. Marcos regime reached is peak in 1976 or 1978, and the nadir of the communist movement was the capture of Joma in 1976. However, the economy started to deteriorate in 1981, after a financial crisis here when a textile magnate Dewey Dee defaulted on his loans and fled the country. Marcos and Virata may have “mismanaged’ the economy but there was a global context. The Latin American debt crisis broke out in 1982 (or was it 1983), global banks everywhere panicked, they cut their short-term loans to PHL.. and as they say, the rest is history.

  3. Bobi Tiglao fills the gap of unanswered questions during martial law.I dream of becoming a journalist but Kit Tatad destroyed that when I was in college as my father told me to stop this nonsense as we enter the new society of the Marcos dictatorship.To those old enough to remember, Mr.Tiglao tells the facts behind the scenes and rekindles my dream to become a journalist as I grow old. What a twist of fate to journalists worthy of emulation. Satur Ocampo who remains loyal to his belief, Bobi who writes as if you are there in the actual scenes and yes Kit Tatad whom I read in Asiaweek as one of the brightest young Filipino who can replace the great dictator Marcos.

  4. ….mga kabataan, magbasa kayo ng tunay na History..learn more from the past, the real truth… napaka Informative!!! Sila yung nandoon noon….marami mga Historian kuno, mga bata pa, na naghahayag ng kanilang opinyon, at ginagawang history …baluktot kung baga…. gising na mga pinoy!!! Imulat ang mga dalawa nyong mga mata, at pakinggan ang tunay na nangyari noon….

  5. Nancy Bulok Cake on

    For the first time, Mr. Tiglao, I salute you for this very informative column. Your column evidently points to the fact that the NPAs, Renato Reyes, LFS, Gabriela, Bello and other militants shouting against the Americans are financed by China. These militants have the courage and nerve to go against the law because of China. Your column justifies Marcos’ declaration of martial law. Yes, martial law is necessary to get rid of the communists. I have been Pro-Marcos for three decades and agree with Ilarde that Marcos is not that stupid to do such thing. Time changed and I hope the LP leadership will redeem themselves by getting rid of all the militants to have a peaceful Philippines to live. Otherwise, I hope Marcos Jr. will be convinced to run as President and I call on all Ilokanos as well as non-Ilokanos to rally for Marcos.



  7. Mr Tiglao – Another great article – Very informative, it puts a lot of things in their proper perspective…. But the conclusions one can deduce from this chain of events regarding our political elite is very depressing… Marcos was not acting in the nation’s interests when he declared martial law. From your accounts, he was acting to perpetuate himself in power and perhaps a bit of revenge on the then current elite for treating like an outsider despite his achievements. Ninoy Aquino, was also salivating in taking over the reins of power, even sharing it with Joma Sison who had his minions do the dirty work in plaza miranda. Then you had the malaysians who funded the rebellion in the south. Marcos, Aquino, Joma Sison, – all intellectual giants on differing poles in the political spectrum – NOT ONE OF THEM EVER HAD THE INTERESTS OF THE COUNTRY AT HEART; ALL OF THEM JUST WANTED THE CROWN AND THE POWER THAT GOES WITH IT…. while possible good leaders like Ramon Magsaysay, jessie Robredo, etc are all taken away so early…. Are we that cursed a nation?

  8. While all what Bobi has written have been clear to me long ago, one big puzzle that still seems to be a sore thumb is the MV Karagatan episode. The financing of the vessel acquisition, if I am not mistaken was facilitated by Mr. Fidel. Mr. Fidel is related to the family that takes care of the legal requirements of the local Citibank since its inception in the local scene. But the head of this family is a member of that illustrious Class of ’39 that includes Mr. Andy. Could Mr. Andy have known the acquisition of the vessel and the rifle supply to the NPA beforehand and have tolerated or abetted it – a counter intelligence move by government similar to the Victor Corpuz Narrative? The rifle supply was the confirmation that the Left was bent on taking over the government thru armed struggle.

  9. salamat ng marami ,sa pagtatanggol mo sa katotohanan.
    sana tuluyan ng mapuksan ang mga sinungaling yellow anay, na patuloy na sumisira sa pundasyon ng ating bansa. mabuhay ka.

  10. Manuel Jaime jr on

    Marcos,himself a former military man,an officer and an experienced bemedaled war veteran,at the time when the communists,the LP hierarchy and the oligarchs were in cahoots to demonized him and make the country in chaos so that it would seem that the only savior worth voting for and eligible to become the next President would be Ninoy Aquino,was also disillusioned and frustrated at how our democratic institutions failed and is being used by the oligarchs to imposed on government what they want and willed to happen.Also,Marcos knows that the government cannot defeat the communists while the right to free speech and assembly exists.Basic human rights must also be curtailed as the enemy,the muslim rebels and the communist insurgents and their hardline leaders do not conform to the democratic principles of basic human rights.What these present enemies of the state recognizes only is their basic ideology of purging.With this clear and present danger slowly encroaching and threatening the very essence of our democratic principles,any leader even if it is not Marcos would have declared a state of emergency to stop the rebels,muslims and communists,to triump.Martial law,as it was famously called in the Philippines is not a bad law.It was used by every government in the world even the US when they felt threatened by the onslaught of communism after World War 2.And Marcos using the same strategy and agenda of defeating communism and the muslim rebellion in Mindanao is but proper and legitimate.His political opponents only cried wolf because they were defeated and out maneuvered by Marcos,checkmate if we are to use a chess lingo.American politicians and security experts knew this for a fact,which is why they backed Marcos and his military generals when Martial law was declared in the Philippines.Why the Americans distanced themselves to Marcos after a few years of the emergency rule imposition,is of another reason but not because of corruption as what his political rivals and opposition is claiming and telling the public.One thing is legitimate and true,Martial law was never a bad law and a bad imposition used by Marcos to defeat and counter a clear and present danger that had threatened this nation 43 years ago…

  11. This article should have a permanent page in the paper. This is very informative and definitely deface all stories that were presumed true. This should be read by all in order to correct corrupted portion of our history.

    Please write more

    • Marami ng me alam ng mga pangyayaring ito. me mga ilan na kasing sumulat ng mga pangyayaring nabanggit ni Mr. Tiglao at yung iba e nadirinig sa mga kwento ng mga taong mas me edad sa atin at mga taong naging bahagi ng mga kaganapan nuon. Ang bago lang sa akin ay pasubali ni Mr. Tiglao na walang naganap na Jabiddah massacre.

      Bakit po, di ba ninyo nabasa na mismong so Ninoy Aquino sa isang talumoati sa Senado ay pinabulaanan ang propganda laban kay Marcos na may Jabidah massacre? Kaya nya ginawa iyon ay siyta ang isa sa mga sinisisi na na nagpakalat ng mali at sinungalin na balitang iyon.

  12. Freddie L. Villanueva on

    The LP and the CPP with the opportunistic elites re: Aquino-Lopez-Ormena clans themselves were once culprits why constitutional Martial Law was imposed by the President Ferdinand Marcos to save the Philippines from further chaos. Their political interests were more supreme than the national interests during that time. They “invented” the SISI political strategy that “Boy Sisi” PNOY perpetuated the same strategy against GMA. May pinagmanahan si “Sisi Boy.”

  13. Ninoy Aquino is not a hero the Yellows portrayed him to be. He was ambitious, treacherous and self-serving. Marcos was right when he said (as quoted by Tatad) that Ninoy was an enemy of the State. August 21, 1983 was karma at work.

  14. Ninoy Aquino had a very strong motive to bomb Plaza Miranda besides provoking a so called revolutionary flow for his fellow NPA founders Joma and Kumander Dante, and that was to eliminate his rivals for the presidential nomination of the Liberal Party, Gerry Roxas and Jovy Salonga. Ninoy had no chance against these two rivals not only because they were the party heavyweights and Ninoy was only a junior senator compared to them – Roxas was LP president and Salonga was always the number 1 senator in elections- but because Ninoy knew Marcos was going to make doubly sure Ninoy wont make it by buying off Ninoy’s delegates to make them switch their votes in the party convention that was going to be held at the Manila Hotel. The grenades landed where Roxas and Salonga were seated almost killing them, injuring even Roxas’ wife Judy and another Liberal presidentiable Serging Osmena. All the time that Ninoy’s ally Chino Roces’ Manila Times and the Lopezes’ Chronicle and ABS-CBN were amplifying Ninoy’s line that Marcos bombed Plaza Miranda, inside the Marcos camp there was only had one suspect, Ninoy Aquino himself. Marcos was even heard to have said, ” Walanghiyang Ninoy yan, pahamak talaga.” Eliminate his rivals and blacken Marcos’ name at the same time, brilliantly diabolical masterstroke indeed. Did Marcos declare Martial Law to perpetuate himself in power? The bombing put Marcos in a spot from which there was no way out except to declare martial law and prevent the election of ’73 from taking place. Why? Because Ninoy was almost certainly going to win that election after what happened, arrest Marcos for the bombing and worst of all, make sure that history will mark Marcos as the evil Plaza Miranda bomber. Ninoy gave Marcos no other option. As for Marcos wealth issue, I suggest you dig up the transcript of the New York trial where all the evidence used by the Americans in that RICO case were supplied by Cory Aquino. The verdict was not guilty because they could not link any of Marcos money to any anomaly whatsoever. The trial showed that Marcos had a perfectly satisfactory explanation for everything, and that was the reason the Davide court refused to accept Marcos reply to the forfeiture case against him resulting in a summary judgment. Read the transcript and see for yourself how, like the Plaza Miranda bombing, truth is stranger than fiction.

  15. thank you again for the revelation, mr. tiglao. by the way, late na nag-open sa internet ang Manila Times. Akala ko na-hack na ang website ng Manila Times, although there was a notice that “Manila Times was currently being updated.” if you noticed, 3 pa lang ang comments to this very interesting revelation.

  16. This is truly very informative, this gives the wide perspective as to what really happened prior to martial law, and what are the aggravating circumstances that necessitate martial law,

    Not the distorted version of the yellow brigade fed through our history books

  17. Sometimes patriotism runs in the blood of some families. But for other families, treason runs in their blood from great grandmothers, grand uncles, et al. – on both sides (mother side and father side).

  18. In behalf of the late PN Commander Pedro Estrella Pasion, Jr., his brothers-in-arms, and his family, thanks to Ambassador Tiglao!

  19. The very same M14s from Palayan City and MV Karagatan are the issued training and ceremonial firearms of the Philippine Military Academy Cadet Corp a.k.a. CCAFP from
    1974 to present !

    Historical museum pieces, Made in China pa !!!

  20. In behalf of Former Senator Eddie Ilarde, we would like to express our gratitude to Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao for recognizing the noble deed of Sen. Ilarde to expose the “ideologues” (as he referred to them) and their co-conspirators in the government at that time who were willing to sell the country to foreigners just to attain power. Megalomania, indeed, leads only to death and destruction. This is a lesson for all of us to avoid thinking like Machiavelli who would kill even his own “compadres” just to sit at the throne.

    • By the way, Ilarde was a “compadre” of the late “Jabidah-exposer” Ninoy. And it was the Malaysians that benefited from Ninoy’s “expose” just as it is the Malaysians that are now benefiting from Noynoy’s push for the BBL and “alternative truth” on the Mamasapano Cold-Blooded Massacre.

    • hindi lang compadre. pati pinsan (Sen. Eva Estrada-Kalaw) ay sinakripisyo ni Sen. Ninoy Aquino at hinayaang mabomba sa Plaza Miranda, kasama ang lawyer-friend na si Sen. Jovito Salonga na siyang nagtanggol kay Ninoy noong dini-disqualify si Ninoy bilang senador dahil kinu-question ang kanyang age eligibility.

  21. The Last Will and Testament of a Soldier would be an interesting read but the picture is not clear enough for the text to be legible. Amb. Tiglao, if I may, would you kindly transcribe the entire manifesto for our perusal. Thank you.