The Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Monument of Heroes) Foundation, together with the Claimants
1081 jointly held a memorial service on 21 September 2007 at 7 a.m. to honor the martyrs who gave their lives during the dark years of martial law and heroes who survived EDSA
I1 who gave their all for the sake of freedom and democracy.
The memorial service was attended by around 100 persons composed mostly of families of victims of human rights violations and the survivors of the tyrannical Marcos regime. They lighted candles and offered flowers at the Wall of Remembrance located within the sprawling 1.5 hectares of
Bantayog ng mga Bayani at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Ave. within the heart of Quezon City.
The memorial service was officiated by Rev. Pastor Steve Arce of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (Calamba, Laguna Congregation) while the keynote speaker was Senator Jovito Salonga who is also a victim of martial law. He is the former President of the Philippine Senate, one of the founders of
Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation and just recently, a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Leadership and Governance.
In his speech, the Honorable Jovito Salonga forwarded several facts as corrections to the historical events leading to the declaration of martial law. He stated that
“in truth, martial law was not imposed on September 21, the date mentioned by Marcos. On the night of September 22, 1972, the news was broadcasted that Secretary of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed in Wack Wack Subdivision, a few kilometers away from Manila. Enrile was not killed. I was at home recovering from the extensive injuries I suffered from the Plaza Miranda bombing. Knowing the loyalty of Enrile to Marcos, I doubted the authenticity of the ambush and said so in my writings during martial law. It was only after the EDSA I People Power Revolution that Enrile admitted it was a fake ambush- evidently to justify the declaration of martial law in the morning of Septemberr 23, 1972 when no newspapers arrived and no TV, radio broadcasts were allowed. It was in the evening of September 23, 1972 that Marcos publicly announced the proclamation of martial law through the tv-radio facilities of Roberto S. Benedicto, his closest crony and classmate in the University of the Philippines.
Marcos falsified the facts, including the repeated assurance that it was not a military take over. The same Constitution, he said remains enforced. He also falsified the two justifications for the imposition of martial law – the
NPA2 rebellion in the North and the Muslim insurgency in the South. There was no NPA when Marcos came into power after the November 1965 elections – but it was his brutal record of repressiveness, brazen corruption and the rigged elections of 1967 and 1969 that led to the formation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA. It was Marcos who caused the Muslim massacre in Corregidor in 1967 and led Nur Misuari in Sulu to revolt against the Marcos regime. Marcos gave himself away when he said the old society (of which he was the leader) was sick and “ A New Society must be born to reform society.”
In any case, the Marcos declaration of martial law crushed the hopes of the youth- who saw no future except to go underground.”
Senator Salonga continued his speech by saying that Edgar Jopson, Manny Yap and others like Ninoy Aquino were the martyrs who died without seeing the dawn of freedom. Tanada, Diokno and Roces survived EDSA but
Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani proclaimed them as heroes for giving their talents, time and resources to topple the Marcos regime.
The good Senator ended his speech by saying that “We are all gathered here this morning to recall and remember the martial law events 35 years ago. We are here to honor the real heroes of our nation.” He implored everyone never again to allow another semblance of Marcos to come and deceive us and our descendants in the name of public security and for the sake of reforming society.
“Only a free people can reform society and buildour society.”
In the same memorial service, the Chairperson of Claimants 1081, Honorable Loretta Ann Rosales read the joint statement for the 35th anniversary of Martial Law written and issued by Claimants 1081 and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). The statement was entitled NEVER AGAIN.
The Statement is as follows:
“ September 21, 2007 – today, members of Claimants 1081, who are victims of the dark years of the tryrannical and rapacious Marcos regime, commemorate the 35th anniversary of the imposition of Proclamation 1081 — the infamous Martial Law of the Philippines . On this day, Claimants 1081 will light candles before the Bantayog ng mga Bayani. On this Wall of Rememberance wherein names of victims of those years of terror and those who fearlessly confronted the regime by their struggle are engraved . These names of heroes and martyrs that symbolize sacrifices and martyrdom convey a message loud and clear:
NEVER AGAIN! May these lighted candles illumine our path in realizing this message in its most concrete sense .
On this day, nightmares of martial law came back to our minds in kaleidoscopic vividness – the dissolution of the Congress, the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus , the curtailment of freedom of expression through complete control of the mass media, the suspension of many basic human rights among others, the right to assembly – all in the name of maintaining law and order throughout the Philippines, preventing or suppressing all forms of lawless violence as well as any act of insurrection or rebellion and enforcing obedience to all the laws, decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by the infamous dictator upon his direction.
Innumerable Filipinos have been victimized by torture, extra-judicial execution, enforced disappearances, the names of some are engraved in the Monument of Heroes. However, many of them are victims whose names may not have been written in the Wall of Remembrance, yet these nameless and faceless martyrs and heroes of the struggle shall forever be remembered. While we forget not their martyrdom and heroism, we must always remind ourselves that the struggle for justice, redress, reparation and the recuperation of their historical memory continues. The signs of the times that speak of the continuing human rights violations, especially manifested by recent cases of extra-judicial killings and disappearances are themselves a constant reminder that the struggle is far from over.
The youth of today may not have personally witnessed the martial law and the horrible consequences on the Filipino people. They do not have the first hand experience, yet as citizens, they need to understand our past in order to be part of the present, to learn from the lessons of history and move on to the future. They may not have personally experienced the horrors of martial law, but if they thoroughly study the country’s situation, we are in no better position than those years of Martial Law because many of the Marcos regime’s manifestations of tyranny, we still continue to witness during our present times- the violations of both civil and political rights and the economic and social rights. One difference in the situation, however is that the people are not as united as before in the common struggle against the dictatorship, a serious matter worth reflecting on…
As justice remains a hollow byword for the victims of martial law and as more people are being victimized by the supposedly democratic administration of President Macapagal-Arroyo, indeed we have to seriously think and act together as a people in our struggle for justice and against impunity.”
The joint statement of Claimants 1081 and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, ended with the following three very clear calls on the Philippine Government:
1. Sign and ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
2. Enact the anti-enforced disappearance bill into law;
3. Enact the Human Rights Compensation bill into law.
Martial Law - Never Again!
The memorial service closed after three hours of fervent prayers, nationalistic songs and more lighting of candles and flower offerings. At 10 a.m., the participants had a joint morning snack and promised to continue the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights as well as to undertake the regular commemoration of the martial law each year.
1 EDSA 1 is the famous People Power Revolution that
toppled the dictatorial regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.
2 NPA stands for New People’s Army. the armed group of
the Communist Party of the Philippines.