Manila Standard : Nightmare after Marcos fall

24 September 2021

By Erwin Tulfo | Manila Standard

"The next five administrations had their own share of scandals and problems."

The controversial interview by Toni Gonzaga with former-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. (BBM) on her YouTube channel has drawn 6.6 million views and counting.

It may yet breach 6.8 million, combined with views of Gonzaga’s “Toni Talks” episodes with Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao and Leni Robredo.

And, this is exactly what anti-Marcoses were anxious about, given the actor-TV host-turned vlogger’s millions of followers.

They have lambasted Gonzaga for the feel-good Monday morning tête-à-tête with BBM, marking his 64th birthday.

It happened to be a week before the 49th commemoration of President Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law.

I don’t think either BBM or Gonzaga had the historical day in mind as much as they hoped to bolster BBM’s candidacy in the upcoming elections.

Suddenly, Martial Law became a timely issue which the anti-Marcoses say should have what Gonzaga centered on in questioning BBM.

So what had become a non-event just like the annual “EDSA People Power” commemoration, these anti-Marcos minions now have something to harp on, ganging up on Gonzaga.

They should, in fact, thank her for the thought-provoking chat with BBM.

Martial law was signed Proclamation 1081 on September 21, 1972 and enforced in two days, then lifted on January 17, 1981.

That’s a span of nine years and three months, contrary to the slant, “20-years of US-Marcos’ tyrannical rule” owing to President Marcos’ election in 1965 and reelection in 1969 until it ended in 1986.

BBM was 15 and I was eight when Martial Law was declared.

Four months later, on January 17, 1973 international druglord Lim Seng alias Gan Suo So, was executed by firing squad in Fort Bonifacio while being filmed and shown on television.

Lim, a notorious heroin trafficker, was the first and last convict executed by musketry but left an indelible mark of what President Marcos called a “smiling Martial Law.”

My father, being a Philippine Constabulary officer, our family lived in different localities, in Palawan, Zamboanga, Davao provinces and Metro Manila.

Until I reached college, I would say that despite widespread poverty, peace and order prevailed but this started to change when Martial Law was lifted in 1981.

The last years of Marcos rule from 1981-1986 saw the revival of labor unions, peasants organizations, student organizations, like the League of Filipino Students (LFS), student publications like the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), and other groups.

Mass actions, particularly at Mendiola gateway to Malacañang, were a daily occurrence fueled by the assassination of former-senator Ninoy Aquino on August 21, 1983.

I was already a beat reporter for the newspaper Malaya during the EDSA “People Power” uprising led by Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Marcos’ entourage fled to Guam, and then Hawaii without bloodshed which is now widely acknowledged as an “act of love” for fellow Filipinos.

BBM recalled how the late President rejected an assault on Camp Crame despite urging from some military generals.

President Marcos said emphatically, “I’ve spent my life defending Filipinos, I cannot hurt them now. Put your arms down.”

I’m not saying the horror stories of mass arrests of activists, abductions, torture, rape, and “salvages” are all lies.

It is just all a nightmare that I did not have, as it was said by veteran actor Eddie Garcia.

I’ve had my brush with cops as a police reporter, but I have not needed, at least, to apologize for my experiences during Martial Law.

It was after Martial Law was lifted and the 30 years that followed EDSA that we lived through the nightmare of mass killings, commonly called “salvages” and known now as extra-judicial killings (EJK).

According to veteran police reporter Ferds Sevilla, the “nanlaban” scenario was a daily-occurrence only not video-recorded, as we did not have the smartphones yet during the Cory administration.

Sevilla ran a series on the “Dirty Dozen,” an elite group of policemen under former P/General Alfredo Lim that most media members did not dare mess with.

Now, can anyone imagine if farmers had cell phones that could video-record the Hacienda Luisita massacre?

The Mendiola massacre was well documented all right when at least 13 farmers were killed during a police dispersal of a farmers' demonstration on January 22, 1987 at Mendiola.

No justice was ever attained for the massacre, also called Black Thursday.

Also in 1987, chairman of the left-leaning LFS Leann Alejandro was slain in an ambush.

Jonas Burgos, son of veteran journalist and publisher of Malaya Joe Burgos was abducted allegedly by the military in 2007. The young activist has never been found until now.

The post Marcos years under five administrations saw massive corruption involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fund or pork barrel.

Corruption gripped most government agencies.

Following the United States military bases pullout in 1992, Chinese incursion into the West Philippine Sea began.

These are but a few of the nightmares we are living now.