• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

Statement on the 51st Anniversary of Martial Law

September 20, 2023

The apple, after all, does not fall far from the tree. Our fears about the return of the Marcoses to power are proven correct. 51 years after Martial Law was declared by Marcos Sr., we find ourselves plagued with the same crisis, same issues, and same terror led by no other than the son, Marcos Jr.

While the Cordillera region is devastated by the recent typhoons, Habagat, and hundreds of energy and mining applications, the Marcos Jr. administration delivers nothing but rising prices, palliative solutions, and absurd narratives to cover-up their failure to address hunger and poverty. The people are struggling to make ends meet, and Marcos Jr. travels around the world to sell our country to investors and get approval from his imperialist masters. This is reminiscent of Marcos Sr. introducing neoliberal policies guised as development, which gave way for the World Bank-funded Chico Dams in the 70s and 80s.

Worse, in the country’s budget deliberations, the staggering 4.3 billion confidential funds and 4.9 billion intelligence funds are deliberately railroaded. Both Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sarah Duterte refuse to be scrutinized, and Duterte seems adamant in maligning our progressive lawmakers who question the funds instead of answering the valid concerns over corruption. The Confidential and Intelligence Funds (CIF) have a history of being misused, and we have no way of proving that it benefits the country due to its obvious lack of transparency. To put it bluntly, we are being robbed right in front of our faces and the thieves are pointing fingers for distraction.

The administration is then concocting inutile stories and performances to make the people look away while they plunder the national treasury. For instance, they speak of concerts to honor teachers and financial literacy for workers instead of providing additional benefits and wage increase. Their lies are compounded by their efforts to rebrand the administration and whitewash the history of the Marcos dictatorship. Like Marcos Sr., the Marcos-Duterte tandem is using state machineries to conceal the real horrors of Martial Law. Duterte is using her powers as secretary of the Department of Education to dissociate “dictatorship” from Marcos’ name in educational materials, and the government coddles media outlets that spread lies after lies about the real state of the nation. Marcos Jr. himself is bringing back the legacy programs of his father, parading “Bagong Pilipinas” as his version of the twisted and notorious “Bagong Lipunan.”

The bloody history of Martial Law is also echoed in today’s terror laws- from the continuation of the whole-of-nation approach that birthed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the weaponization of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 against dissenters, up to EO 37 which requires all government agencies to adopt the administration’s National Security Plan (NSP). Under the NSP, civilian functions are militarized pursuant to the whole-of-nation strategy for national security and counterinsurgency.

We in the Cordillera are no stranger to the impacts of these terror laws. Leaders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) have been through a series of trumped-up charges, 4 of them are designated as terrorists, while members are hounded by state security forces to surrender. The bank accounts of CPA as well as those of the designated individuals are currently frozen considering the terrorist designation. 2 Cordillerans, Steve Tauli and Dexter Capuyan, and 1 Cordillera indigenous rights advocate, Bazoo De Jesus, have been abducted. Dexter and Bazoo are yet to be surfaced, while Steve is still recovering from the trauma caused by his abduction. Meanwhile, the recent bombings in Gawaan, Balbalan, Kalinga revealed the intense militarization that our communities experience, especially in the countryside. Those who resist the entry of exploitative mining and energy projects are similarly harassed, threatened, intimidated, or subjected to other fascist attacks. In other words, what we are experiencing is an all-out state terrorism.

As a response, we launched the campaign to Defend the North, Defend Cordillera PH earlier this year to drumbeat judicial harassment, bombings, and the militarization of our communities. It has been an endless tirade of attacks, no different from what Marcos Sr. did 51 years ago.

However, we do not only remember our stories of struggle and survival. We also remember our victories- our concerted efforts to bring down the dictator who was willing to sacrifice the Kaigorotan in the name of “development.” We remember Macli-ing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc Sr, Ama Lumbaya Gayudan, and the many Martial Law heroes and martyrs of the Cordillera. We remember the old saying that oppression breeds resistance, and even 51 years later, resistance it shall be for the Cordillera peoples.###

For Reference:
Ned Tuguinay
CPA Spokesperson