Shocking Facts about the Philippine Martial Law

It’s been 43 years since former President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. We’ve learned some stuff about it during our history class at school but my further readings told me that there are many things we didn’t know about it and weren’t taught to us in class. Here are some of the most shocking facts about the Philippine Martial Law:

  • Former President Ferdinand Marcos was not the only president to declare martial law. In fact, it was Emilio Aguinaldo who first declared Martial Law making him not only the first president of the republic but also the country’s first dictator.
  • Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also declared a Martial Law in Mindanao to investigate the Amputan Clan’s alleged private armies and weaponry.
  • Curfew was strictly imposed during the martial law and anyone who is caught walking the streets between 11pm-4am gets arrested and detained by the Metrocom or metropolitan.

Shocking Facts about the Philippine Martial Law

  • Little kids didn’t get to enjoy watching anime (Japanese animation) like Voltes V, Daimos or Mazinger Z. The government’s reason for banning these shows is that they’re too violent for little children to watch. Other says that it’s because the animes’ stories are about fighting an oppressive villain that’s why the Marcos regime didn’t want kids to watch it.
  • Theater became a potent vehicle for political expression. PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) used their shows to express their sympathies against the government. They also taught local communities about theater.

Shocking Facts about the Philippine Martial Law

  • Senator Jose Diokno was known to be one of Marcos’ formidable foes alongside Senator Ninoy Aquino. After the successful overthrow of the Marcos regime, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights. However, during Cory’s regime and the infamous Mendiola massacre where the military opened fire and killed 15 farmers, he resigned from his position, disappointed that even after the dictator is gone, not much has changed.
  • During Martial Law, Meralco was under the control of the government that’s why the electric bill during that time was incredibly lower than what’s written on our bills today. After the Cory regime got rid of the Marcoses, she gave back the company to the Lopez’ and completely out of the government’s hands.
  • Public schools were normally supplied with NutriBun. a high-vitamin bun which was supposedly a complete, all-in-one meal. It only costs five centavos.
  • Although his wife Imelda was credited for building some of the country’s finest monuments, she was criticized for personal extravagance. She was called the iron butterfly of Asia because of her ability to make connections with other powerful people fast. She’s also as strong willed as her late husband.

Shocking Facts about the Philippine Martial Law

  • Imelda Marcos came up with the Green Revolution program which required students to bring and plant seeds and take care of the environment. Aside from this, they are also required to attend news programs.
  • After the 1986 people power, not much has changed and the Philippines still remained one of the poorest countries in Asia as opposed to our former title, The Tiger of Asia during Marcos’ regime.

Shocking Facts about the Philippine Martial Law

We all have different views about the Martial but one thing is for sure, it did change the entire nation and affected the generation that came after it.

Only Tax Payers Should Be Allowed to Vote

Miriam: Only Tax Payers should be allowed to Vote

                “If a person is a borderline moron, why should his vote equal the vote of a college graduate?”

                                                                                          -Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

                We all know Sen. Miriam to be the toughest chic in the senate and let’s face it, she’s among the very few who actually makes sense when she opens her mouth. One of her latest ideas sparked a very active online debate amongst netizens when she said that only tax payers should be allowed to vote. There are those who agree while some think it’s a very elitist move.

                The Filipino people are mostly composed of the urban poor. By urban poor I mean people who only eat adequate times a day, mostly just two, people who are living in slum areas and with little to no education at all. In her speech at the Far Eastern University’s Central Student Organization series back in 2012, Sen. Miriam emphasized the importance of being an educated voter. “But in our country, the masses tend to vote for the people whom they most often see either in movies or on TV.  They apply only a visual test to candidates.  If the candidate often plays the role of champion of the poor, then the uneducated poor will vote him to office for this reason only.  Thus, they are voting for actors.  Accordingly, when some of these TV and film personalities win in the elections, they continue their acting in the legislature.” She said in her speech.

                We can all attest to the kind of education we have here in the Philippines and sometimes, I cannot help but think that the government is doing so little about our severe educational problems intentionally  to keep us all stupid and ignorant during the elections. I agree with what the senator said because if you’re uneducated, then you definitely don’t know any better than to vote for the handsome actor or even get involved in vote buying just so you can feed your family. The fact that so many Filipinos do that is appalling because they do not know its long term implications towards the future of this nation and their children.

            Under Article IV, Sec 1 of the Philippine Constitution: Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage. Now, Sen. Miriam says this is not applicable in the 21st century and therefore should be amended. She proposes to change the charter so only tax payers can vote since the non-tax payers belongs to the poorest of poor, they are most likely to accept money from politicians. “Kasi kung hindisiya nagbabayad ng tax, mahirap na mahirap siya. Maski sino na lang, basta bigyan siya ng pera, kahit bigyan mo ng konti, that is patronage politics. The taxpayers are being ruled by the choice of the non-taxpayers.” The senator said.

                While many people claim that this idea has a lot of loopholes, (for example, if only income-tax payers are allowed to vote, what about those who pay the Value-Added Tax, which is everyone?) One cannot say that it doesn’t make sense because it does. As a tax payer, of course, you will care about where your hard earned contribution is going to or if it falls to the hands of righteous people. So with that, you will care to analyze and scrutinize each candidate and vote for the best ones, not just those with the most fans or with the most outrageous campaign. You will think for yourself and your country because you know exactly what is at stake.

                However, since there’s the VAT-tax payer’s problem, the only solution we can do to stop ignorant votes from running the country is to fix our educational system. Let’s do what other European countries do and put everything we have on education. Pay our teachers well, build more schools and teach more useful lessons instead of filling students’ head with useless information. Let’s add a bit of political awareness to the curriculum too so we can produce more intelligent voters who actually care about their country. I am not aiming to belittle the urban poor and the uneducated, I’m just merely stating the fact that most of us don’t really know who they’re voting for and what’s worse is they compose the majority.

                This idea by Sen. Miriam might just save us another decade of idleness, massive inflation and socioeconomic problems if it’s implemented correctly. If we stop denying the fact that the Philippine population is mostly composed of people who couldn’t care less about the names they write on their ballots as long as they get money from it; and actually do something about that problem instead, we might have a chance of experiencing a better Philippines in this lifetime.

What is Real Democracy?

                The other day I was watching the movie ‘The Dictator’ starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Hafaz Aladeen, a ruthless dictator from the fictional nation of Wadiya. Although the movie was mostly hilarious, some scenes from this movie made me think about the current situation of my country and how much freedom do we really have and how properly we use it. In Aladeen’s speech in front of the United Nations, he let out an incredibly witty satire about dictatorship. He asked them why are they so anti-dictatorship when in this type of government,you could wire tap phones and use the media to scare the public into supporting policies that are against their interests. You could help your rich friends get richer by cutting their taxes and bailing them out when they gamble and lose. You could have rigged elections. You could ignore the needs of the poor for health care and education. Your media would appear free, but would secretly be controlled by one person and his family and many other horrible things. As I hear those words I realized, hey, that’s exactly what’s happening in our country right now but wait, that’s not right. The Philippines is not under a dictatorship, we’re a democracy.

We’re a democracy, right?

To find the answers to my questions, I did a little research about what a real democracy is and what does it looks like. By definition, Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. Given, the Filipino people elect the leaders of their government but there are always accusations of cheating and vote buying. And sometimes, they weren’t just accusations; they were proven to be true but only after those politicians have served their terms and plundered enough money to fund the construction of their summer homes and mansions. The Elections here are always bloody to the point that even those who run for Baranggay Captains and Kagawads get gunned down. Journalists get killed here and there to prevent the truth from coming out.Where’s the democracy in that?

It is also said that in a democracy, everyone is treated equally and has equal rights. We can all agree that is not happening here since many women and children still get abused and sold into prostitution and slavery dens. Our native brothers get kicked out of their tribe’s home land to make way for military exercises and corporate buildings like hotels and other things; thus losing their age old culture. The needs of the poor get ignored and no matter how many times they say and announce on TV that the Philippine economy is Asia’s next miracle, not one poor Filipino believes it or feels it for that matter.Our government does not protect our freedom and living, they are only protecting the freedom of the rich and anyone who gives them money. Where’s the democracy in that?

In an article by Bjorn Dressel, a senior lecturer in the Australian National University entitled “The Philippines: How much real democracy”, he explained that Philippine democracy is a paradox. Yes, we are known as the first Asian country to topple an authoritarian rule and demanded democracy during the People Power. In the first few years after that peaceful revolution, we had a vibrant experience of democracy but after that, what happened? “…the flaws in the democratic process are also extensive: elite dominance, institutional weakness, and widespread abuse of public office, which suggest true representation is largely illusory.” Dressel wrote. Our freedom is an illusion, made colorful by these rich families and politicians who only care to protect their interests and their money. They are giving us blindfolds and we’re willingly covering our eyes with it.

This coming 2016, we are once again going to enjoy our rights to suffrage. How many more failed presidents, how many crooked mayors, how many stealing congressmen and senators do we have to vote for until we realize that unless we do something to fight back this kind of oppression, nothing is ever going to change. Unless we actually use our minds to think and carefully pick the rightful candidate to lead the country, the same cycle of poverty and suffering will just repeat itself. The Philippines will remain a third world country despite our very rich natural resources. We will continue to be used because we let them.

We shouldn’t let them. Democracy gives power to the people to rule and decide the fate of their country. Let’s work together to divert that power where it actually belongs: to the Filipino people. We must bring back real democracy and this time, let’s make it permanent. If we’re going to ask for real democracy, we’re going to have to look for it ourselves and make it happen.