MALACAÑANG on Sunday urged Filipinos to “never again” allow the imposition of martial rule, which a Palace official described as “one of the darkest chapters” in Philippine history, as the country commemorates Monday the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. particularly called on the youth to learn from the lessons of the past, particularly the hardships suffered by the victims of human rights abuses then.
“It’s almost two generations and those born after [martial law]have very little experience or knowledge of what we have experienced. That’s why they should understand and join us in declaring ‘never again’ or that the terror suffered by the Philippines under martial law should never happen again,” Coloma said in an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
Himself a former activist, he added that the government of President Benigno Aquino 3rd joins the country in remembering and “honoring the sacrifices of the victims of martial rule.”
“With courage, they defied harassment, cruel punishment and fear as they asserted and fought for the recognition of basic human rights at a time when the dictatorship demolished the house of democracy in our land,” Coloma said.
“From their blood, sweat and tears, our people gathered and rebuilt their willpower and strength to mount wave upon wave of protest movements that culminated in the triumph of the EDSA People Power revolution in 1986,” he added.
The Palace official said the people’s resistance and struggle against martial rule served as the foundation for rebuilding democracy in the Philippines “that served as a beacon of hope and inspiration for other freedom-loving people, who overcame dictatorship and rebuilt democracy in their land.”
“Together with our efforts to ensure sustainable long-term growth, progress and stability that would include the active participation of all Filipinos, it is important to impart to the youth of our land the lessons learned from martial rule and the struggle to restore democracy, as our continuing legacy to all future generations of Filipinos,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Coloma boasted that the country now enjoys the full benefits of press freedom, freedom of assembly and expression that were curtailed during the reign of Marcos.
“We should be proud of our country for having full freedom,” he said.
He recalled that while Marcos issued Proclamation 1081 on September 21, 1972, the military shut down various media outlets and incarcerated perceived enemies of the state beginning midnight of September 22.
“It is very clear to us and other observers that freedom of the press in the Philippines is a good example on how it should be respected and practiced in a democracy. Compared to other countries, only a few have an effective freedom of the press,” Coloma pointed out.