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never again to martial law


i had the pleasure of attending a briefing today provided by attorney rex fernandez, a notable human rights lawyer in the philippines, member of human rights organization KARAPATAN, and currently one of the lawyers working on the case of melissa roxas, a filipino-american who was recently abducted and tortured this year.

atty. rex fernandez1 atty rex fernandez2

human rights has been an issue that continues to remain close to my heart.  in a polarized world where abject poverty and excessive wealth both exist, it has always been a burning reminder that every human on this earth have basic needs and basic rights. i have the privilege of coming home to a comfortable apartment, to take a warm bath, to eat three meals a day, and to sleep soundly through the night to be able to awake and live through tomorrow.  i must constantly remind myself that not everyone in this world have these basic provisions, and there are people, systems, and institutions that ensure that they continue to remain in that deficit.

on this day in 1972, ferdinand marcos enacted martial law in the philippines and unleashed an era of bloodshed, repression, and darkness. it is in this darkness that unspeakable acts were committed under “national security,” and fear was planted and made fertile. my family know the horrors of this time intimately, and have suffered the death of loved ones, whose only crimes were being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

what marcos and his administration would never anticipate is that repression breeds resistance. with nothing to lose and only their freedom to gain, it is also this darkness that gave birth to a fire that ignited the people’s will to fight. a fire that spread, against all of marcos’ attempts to quell hope. a fire that spread and burned deep into the spirits of filipinos to fight for freedom. our people aroused, organized, and mobilized into a revolution that sought to shape the future of our country, and this movement continues to do so today.

we cannot, will not ever forget martial law because we are being made to live and relive this era under gloria macapagal arroyo.

in the first four years of her presidency, a total of 440 people fell victim to extrajudicial killings. in 2009, the political killings have surpassed a thousand. in this modern day era of undeclared martial law, it is then up to us to channel the legacy of the freedom fighters that have given their lives in order for us to be blessed with another day. we must reach deep within ourselves and find the courage, compassion, love, and hope to fight for what is rightfully ours: the right to life and self determination.

we must carry on the fire that resonates with our people’s struggle. we have the power to liberate ourselves and crush tyranny, corruption, and repression once and for all. this is a noble responsibility that we must be proud to accept.

so as the clock ticks on and september 21 comes to a close, let this serve as the hour that we commit ourselves to struggle for the future that we deserve, so that those who have come before us will not have died in vain.

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