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BATAS NG PAG-AKLAS: Mga hinangong aral sa ika-40 taon ng Batas Militar

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(Unang nalimbag ang akdang ito sa isyu 14 ng Philippine Collegian noong 19 Setyembre 2012.)


(Mga dibuho ni Marianne Rios)

Para sa nakararaming Pilipino, inihuhudyat ng buwan ng Setyembre ang papalapit na panahon ng Kapaskuhan. Ngunit para sa mga nabuhay noong dekada ‘70, ipinaaalala ng Setyembre ang isa sa pinakamadilim na yugto sa kasaysayan ng lipunang Pilipino—ang pagpataw ng Batas Militar o Martial Law (ML).

Laganap na kahirapan, kabi-kabilaang korupsyon, malawakang paglabag sa karapatang pantao at tahasang pagsikil sa demokratikong karapatan ng mamamayan ang iniwang bakas ng ML sa naratibo ng bansa.

Gayunman, ang mismong lagim na inihasik ng ML ang lalong nagpasidhi at nagpaalab sa mga ningas ng pagbabago. Subalit apat na dekada matapos ang “kalayaan” at “pagbawi sa demokrasya,” ano na nga ba ang kalagayan ng nakararaming Pilipino?

Sa kanayunan, nananatiling walang pagmamay-aring lupa ang mga magsasaka. Sa kalunsuran, hindi pa rin dinidinig ang matagal nang hinaing ng mga manggagawa para sa makatarungan at nakabubuhay na sahod. Sa mga pamantasan, nariyan pa rin ang mga panawagan para sa sapat na badyet sa edukasyon at mas maayos na serbisyong pangkalusugan.

Sa mga lansangan, patuloy ang panawagan para sa makabuluhang panlipunang pagbabago. At sa pagdiriwang ng ika-40 taong anibersaryo ng ML, marapat lamang balikan ang mga aral na nabuo at iniluwal sa panahon ng ligalig—at gamitin ang mga ito bilang mabisang gabay at tanglaw upang tuluyang maiwaksi ang dilim at lagim.

Balik-aral
ni John Toledo

Bago pa man tumuntong sa UP ang marami sa mga iskolar ng bayan, mahigpit na ang tagubilin ng kanilang mga magulang na huwag maging aktibista. Ngunit kung matamang babalikan ang kasaysayan ng aktibismo sa pamantasan, hindi maikakaila ang malaking papel na ginampanan nito sa paghubog ng UP at ng lipunan.

Ilang taon pa lamang ang nakararaan matapos itatag ang UP, sumibol na ang progresibong kamalayan sa pamantasan. Mula 1917 hanggang dekada ‘50s, naging matalas na kritiko ang mga mag-aaral ng UP ng mga patakarang sumusupil sa soberanya ng bansa.

Sa pagpasok ng dekada ‘60s, binuo ng dating propesor sa literatura na si Jose Maria Sison ang progresibong organisasyon na Student Cultural Association of the UP (SCAUP). Sinimulan ng SCAUP ang mga diskusyon sa mga cafeteria at silid-aklatan ng UP hinggil sa kalagayan ng lipunang Pilipino.

Kinalaunan, binuo ni Sison, kasama ang 80 mga estudyante at guro ng UP, ang demokratikong organisasyong Kabataang Makabayan (KM) na nanawagan para sa malawakang pagbabagong panlipunan. Sa loob ng isang taon, halos 25,000 ang napakilos ng KM sa mga protesta laban sa mga kasunduang Laurel-Langley Agreement at US Military Bases Agreement.

Muling nasubok ang lakas ng kilusang kabataan noong dekada ‘70s. Nang tumaas ng tatlong sentimos ang presyo ng langis, halos 50,000 estudyante ang nagprotesta sa unang tatlong buwan ng 1970, na kinilala bilang First Quarter Storm (FQS).

Bunsod ng FQS, higit pang lumakas ang kilusang kabataan. “Naging frequent ang mga discussion groups [sa UP] tungkol sa problema ng Philippine society,” ani Satur Ocampo, isa sa mga lider-estudyante ng panahong iyon.

Naging isa sa mga pangunahing dahilan ni Marcos ang papalakas na kilusang kabataan, kasama ang iba pang sektor ng lipunan, sa pagpapatupad ng Batas Militar.

Sa deklarasyon ng Batas Militar, nanahimik ang buong lansangan. Ngunit pinagdadampot ng militar ang maraming aktibista.

“Dalawang beses akong nahuli… pinaupo ako sa yelo, at binuhusan ng tubig sa ilong bilang water cure,” ani Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, detenidong pulitikal noong Batas Militar.

Hindi bababa sa halos 70,000 ang nabilanggo, 34,000 ang tinortyur at 3,240 ang pinatay noong Batas Militar, ayon sa grupong Amnesty International.

Sa pagbagsak ng rehimeng Marcos, nakalaya ang ilan sa mga nakulong, samantalang marami ang hindi na kailanman natagpuan. Ang ilan ay nanumbalik sa normal na buhay, samantalang may ilan ding piniling ipagpatuloy ang pakikibaka sa kanayunan.

Ayon kina Sison, Ocampo at Taguiwalo, kahit apat na dekada na ang nakalipas matapos ipataw ang Batas Militar, nananatili pa rin ang mga kondisyong nagpakilos sa sektor ng kabataan. “[Student movements] are very significant. [They] express the demands of the students as well as those of the entire people for national independence, democracy, development, social justice and world peace,” paliwanag ni Sison.

“Sinasabi ng mga kritiko na passé na daw ang aktibismo ngunit hindi nila nakikita na kailangang bumalik sa historikal na ugat nito – ang [tunggalian sa lipunan],” ani Ocampo.

Para sa mga beteranong aktibista ng Batas Militar, kinakailangang magpatuloy ng kabataan sa paggiit ng kanilang karapatan, lalo na sa harap ng tumitinding krisis sa sektor ng edukasyon. “Ang maipapayo ko [sa mga iskolar ng bayan] ay to always persist in the struggle,” ani Taguiwalo.

Hindi maikakailang malaki ang papel ng kabataan sa paghubog ng kasaysayan, lalo na sa paglaban at pagpapatalsik sa rehimeng Marcos. Baon ang mga aral ng aktibismo mula sa panahon ng Batas Militar, nararapat magpatuloy sa pagkilos ang kabataan at maging mapanuri sa mga umiiral na tunggalian sa lipunan.

Under pressure
by John Malcolm S. Aniag

No other period in Philippine history reveals the polarized nature of media outfits more clearly than the Martial Law era.

During this period, Filipinos witnessed the stark contrast between state-controlled media – which portrayed massive development and progress brought about by the Marcos dictatorship, and the grim picture painted by the underground alternative press.

Immediately after declaring Martial Law, President Ferdinand Marcos swiftly moved to silence the opposition. His first letter of instruction under martial rule ordered for the sequestration of all radio, television and newspaper outlets. A month later, Marcos released Presidential Decree No. 33 which led to the imprisonment of people the regime tagged as “subversives,” including known media critics.

Most media institutions fell into the hands of known Marcos cronies, including Gilberto Duavit and Roberto Benedicto, who together owned most local TV channels and the Philippine Daily Express, the only nationally-distributed newspaper during that time.

The state-controlled media sought to build the dictatorship’s image even if it meant conjuring illusions of progress.

“In those days, the mainstream media were filled with either government propaganda or entertainment [to calm the masses],” says activist playwright Bonifacio Ilagan.

While the crony press continued to weave government propaganda, a small portion of the press, composed of campus publications and newspapers with relatively smaller circulation, banded together and formed what will go down in history as the “mosquito press” – relatively smaller in reach, yet able to publish stinging articles against the regime.

“We didn’t like this monopoly of information. Knowing that there was another unreported side to every story, we decided to tell our side of the story,” says then-columnist of anti-dictatorship newspaper Pahayagang Malaya Satur Ocampo.

Despite the looming danger of imprisonment and torture, the mosquito press presented the grimes of the Martial Law period, reporting news that was absent in the mainstream media – that majority of Filipinos lived below the poverty line; that people were not happy of the curfews, agrarian policies, and the government’s spending priorities; that torture and other forms of state violence proliferated to gag critics.

Some of the renowned dissidents of the period include the Mr. and Ms. Magazine, which published political news mixed along articles in their society page; the Philippine Collegian, which continued to publish guerilla-style after being shut down by the regime; and the We Forum, whose columnists included human rights lawyer Jose Diokno.

However, the government was quick to pounce upon these pockets of dissent. Hordes of journalists were arrested and tortured without warrant, just for publishing materials critical of the regime.

In 1982, We Forum’s typewriters and printing press were confiscated by authorities and its writers were detained for writing “subversive materials.”

“I was a victim. During the suspension of We Forum, all of us went into hiding. I was caught and detained for more than two months and lived long afterwards,” recounts Ocampo. “Some, however, are not so lucky. Collegian Editor-in-Chief Ditto Sarmiento died of asthma which was aggravated by his incarceration,” Ocampo adds.

Forty years after the declaration of martial law, the conditions that prompted journalists to break from the norm and establish the alternative press still prevails.

Akin to the Martial Law era, journalism in the Philippines nowadays is still a deadly profession. “People who exercise their free speech are not only suppressed but also killed,” says Ilagan. Under President Benigno Aquino III’s term alone, six journalists and media practitioners have been killed.

Also, major media companies are still owned by the individuals, including the Lopezes of ABS-CBN, who regained control of the media company under Corazon Aquino’s presidency.

“The powerful still own the major media companies. Of course, they would further their own self-interest. Even if it meant downplaying or exaggerating facts,” says Ocampo.

As the mainstream media continue to present a lopsided view of society, there remains a need for the press to provide space for the marginalized sectors of society and be a primary driving force in instigating societal change.

Landas ng pagbabalikwas
ni Gloiza Plamenco

Madalas ipagmalaki ng mga tagasuporta ni dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos ang pag-unlad na kanya umanong naidulot sa kabuhayan ng mga ordinaryong Pilipino. Kung hindi raw napatalsik ang dating pangulo, ani Senador Bongbong Marcos, malamang kahanay na ang Pilipinas ng mauunlad na bansang gaya ng Singapore.

Ngunit kung susuriing mabuti ang yugtong iyon ng kasaysayan, hindi maitatangging isa iyon sa mga panahong sukdulang naisadlak sa kahirapan ang mga mamamayan.

Nang ipatupad ni Marcos ang Batas Militar noong Setyembre 21, 1972, hindi agarang naramdaman ni Juan dela Cruz ang pagkalugmok. “Mas mabenta noon, tsaka mas mura ang bilihin,” ani Aling Flora, isang tindera ng mani.

Bilang bahagi ng pagtataguyod ni Marcos ng “Bagong Lipunan,” sinimulan niya ang mga proyektong pang-ekonomiya na nagdulot sa pagtaas ng Gross National Product (GNP) ng bansa. Kabilang sa mga proyektong ito ang Masagana 99, na naglayong maparami ang ani ng mga magsasaka. Pagdating ng 1978, sapat na ang produksyon ng palay para sa pangangailangan ng bansa.

Mula 1973 hanggang 1979, pumalo sa 6 porsyento ang taunang GNP growth rate ng Pilipinas. Tumaas ng 5 porsyento taun-taon ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong may trabaho mula 1972 hanggang 1977. Upang maipagpatuloy ang paglakas ng ekonomiya, nangutang ang Pilipinas sa iba’t ibang lending institution.

Unti-unting rumupok ang ekonomiyang Marcos na nakasandig sa pautang ng dayuhan, batbat ng korupsyon, at pinaiinog ng mga kaibigan o mga “crony” ng pangulo. Noong 1984, umabot sa 46.7 porsyento ang antas ng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin—ang pinakamataas na naitalang inflation rate mula 1980 hanggang 2010, ayon sa International Monetary Fund. Mahigit 2.5 milyong Pilipino rin ang nawalan ng trabaho noong 1985, ayon sa IBON Foundation.

Bilang solusyon sa malawakang kahirapan, itinulak ni Marcos ang mga Pilipino na mangibang-bayan. Tumaas ang bilang ng OFW mula sa 36,029 noong 1975 tungong 372,784 noong 1985. Nagbigay din si Marcos ng mga insentibo sa mga dayuhang mamumuhunan, gaya ng pagbaba ng taripa para sa banyagang kalakalan. Sa halip na makabuti, naging dahilan pa ito upang lalong humina ang mga lokal na industriya sa bansa.

Bagaman kilala sa kanilang pagiging matiisin, nakita ng mga Pilipino ang pangangailangang magbalikwas sa pamumuno ni Marcos. May “protest ban” man, matagumpay pa ring nailunsad ang welga ng mga manggagawa sa La Tondeña noong 1975. Libo-libong Pilipino rin ang dumagsa sa kahabaan ng EDSA noong People Power 1 noong Pebrero 1986 kung kailan tuluyang napatalsik sa pwesto si Marcos.

“Nang nakita ko sa TV na nagtatawag sila na magrally sa EDSA, naglakad [na] kami papunta roon,” ani Mang Allan, isang security guard.

Labing-anim na taon na ang lumipas, limang pangulo na ang nagdaan, ngunit hindi maikakailang nananatili pa rin ang marami sa mga kondisyong nagpahirap sa mga Pilipino.

Patuloy pa rin ang pangingibang bansa ng maraming Pilipino — umabot na sa 2.2 milyon ang OFW noong Setyembre 2011, ayon sa tala ng National Statistics Office. Walang pambansang industriya ang Pilipinas, at malaki pa rin ang utang panlabas ng bansa. Dulot nito, inaangkop pa rin ng pamahalaan ang mga kondisyon ng mga lending institution, tulad ng pagbaba ng badyet sa mga serbisyong panlipunan, ayon sa IBON Foundation.

“Wala namang pagbabago kay Noynoy ngayon. Lahat [ng presyo ng mga bilihin], nagmamahal,” ani Aling Celia, 62, manininda ng banana cue.

Higit tatlong dekada matapos mapatalsik ang rehimeng Marcos, laganap pa rin ang kahirapan sa bansa. Nananatili pa rin ang mga batayang suliranin ng lipunang malulunasan lamang sa patuloy na paglaban ng mamamayan.

Vanity fair
by Victor Limon

When former First Lady Imelda Marcos famously foretold that her name would someday be listed in the dictionary to denote “ostentatious extravagance,” what she probably had in mind was her vast and famed collection of shoes, jewelry, and couture gowns. Hers was the oft-quoted maxim which proclaims that the only things worthy of our aspirations are “the true, the good, and the beautiful.”

Yet her idea of how these must be realized is apparent, not only in her opulent displays of wealth, but also, and perhaps more notably so, in the many vanity projects she and her husband so enthusiastically pursued throughout her family’s 21 years in power.

Appointed as both Governor of Metropolitan Manila and Minister of Human Settlement during the Martial Law years, Imelda spearheaded the construction of several “beautification campaigns,” which translated into makeshift and substandard housing projects, resulting in the violent eviction of urban squatters in large numbers. In one instance, she even had large painted walls erected around communities in depressed areas to conceal poverty from the gaze of foreign dignitaries visiting the country.

Styling herself as patroness of the arts, Imelda also went on to commission multimillion-dollar complexes, such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Manila Film Center, at a time when poverty was widespread. From a poverty level of 24 percent in 1974, the proportion of people living below the poverty line in the cities alone had risen to 40 percent by 1986.

These glitzy initiatives underscored her husband’s dire need to enforce a semblance of order, stability, and progress. While the country registered positive nominal economic growth rates during Martial Law, the boom did not translate to real, grassroots terms and was due mostly to an overflow of foreign capital and excessive government spending. Wages were frozen and labor unions were clamped down to make the domestic business environment attractive to foreign investors.

Almost half a century hence, though the Steel Butterfly’s physical facades of “beauty” and “order” no longer dominate the landscape, the present government’s own political and economic agenda are neither less deceptive nor less extravagant.

While government funding for basic social services fall below the levels needed for the operations of public institutions, the government simultaneously wastes millions of pesos on programs which seem to follow Imelda’s skewed idea of what constitutes public service.

In the proposed national budget for 2013 alone, the government plans to further increase funding for its Conditional Cash Transfer program, despite both local and international studies which prove the inefficiency of cash dole-outs in resolving poverty in many countries like Mexico.

Even in its budget for education, the government’s penchant for misguided spending is nothing less than evident. While the administration does not hesitate to pour funds into the implementation of the K-12 policy, more urgent priorities, such as the shortage of teachers and facilities, are banished to the margins of the government’s blueprint of “progress.”

Yet history has demonstrated that the potency of manufactured realities, however “true,” “good,” and “beautiful” they may appear, can never truly isolate the people from their own harsh material conditions. And as the narratives of Martial Law have shown, false facades and oppressive structures can never avail against the people’s struggle for truth and social justice. ●

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