There is hope in People Power

During his dictatorship, Ferdinand Marcos consolidated power not just through blatant corruption but by imposing a 14-year reign of terror over the Filipino people. Prior to the declaration of Martial Law, the regime proliferated propaganda on the supposed presence of rebels in the city to justify an iron fisted military rule.

The truth, however, is far from what the government made it to be. The young New People’s Army (NPA) was still small in numbers, but the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) took advantage of their presence by overestimating the rebellion’s numbers – a reason to increase the military budget. More money for Marcos’ generals to pocket. 

Abiding to the United States’ McCarthyist approach, through General Order 5, fascist forces of the Philippine Constabulary side-to-side with the AFP roamed the streets, patrolling for activities they deemed suspicious which, for the regime, was an assembly of three or more people. Many lives were torn and butchered because of this order: at least 70,000 arrests, 35,000 tortured, 3,257 killed, and an possibly even more undocumented for each.

In Marcos’ eyes, rallies, demonstrations, pickets, and strikes caused “hysteria or panic among the populace or would incense the people against their legitimate government”. Needless to say, the administration was threatened by the ability of the people mobilizing against his corrupt, tyrannical rule.

One can only imagine how much he quivered in fear when over two million people went to EDSA to protest and oust him from the presidency.

In a sense, Rodrigo Duterte has used the same scare tactics on the Filipino people. He deployed an anticommunist propaganda machine called the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to amplify the red scare; he took advantage of the lockdown to militarize the nation and restrict movement; he signs a policy that terrorizes ordinary citizens; police and military continue to infiltrate democratic assemblies, arresting organizers, participants, and passerbys. It may not be officially declared, but we do not need a government resolution to know that this is Duterte’s Martial Law – his fascistic attempt to paralyze the nation.

We may seem immobilized by the pandemic, but we wish to remind our readers of the possibility of a better tomorrow. EDSA People Power I was more than just an uprising, it was a manifestation of hope. The people must take initiative by reclaiming the streets and let Duterte quiver as Marcos did in 1986.

The spirit of people power lives on in the hearts of every Filipino longing for a better society, and in the same spirit of those who mobilized in 1986, all of us have to unite and target the common enemy. We removed Marcos from power before, we can surely do the same with Duterte today. [P]

Graphics by Lindsay Anne Peñaranda

UPLB Perspective is the official student publication of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, established in 1973. It is the first campus publication established under Martial Law in the Philippines.

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