Forty-four years have passed since the dictator subjected our country to the injustice of martial law.

SENATOR FRANCIS PANGILINAN AT SAMASA POST-ELECTIONS THANKSGIVING, 30 JULY 2016We have lost a generation of brave and promising Filipinos like Archimedes Trajano and Leticia Ladlad to the murders and forced disappearances of that dark time. At an open forum discussion on August 31, 1977, Trajano, a student at the Mapua Institute of Technology, questioned presidential daughter Imee Marcos about her appointment as national chairman of the Kabataang Barangay. Because of this, he was kidnapped, interrogated, and tortured to death by military intelligence personnel. Ladlad, on the other hand, was an agricultural chemistry student at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB). An activist, Ladlad and her fellow comrades whom she was meeting in the area of Paco Church in Manila disappeared in late November of 1975 and never found by their relatives.

Four decades after the declaration of martial law, we are still paying for its estimated $27 billion debt. Our coconut industry continues to suffer the adverse effects of the Coco Levy Fund scam.

Worse, there is well-funded propaganda that aims to make us forget the dictatorship’s many transgressions.

We do not forget: Martial law was not lawful; it employed state violence and brazen injustice against its own people; it institutionalized corruption and wanton abuse of power.

Sadly, there are times when we seem to forget this, when we choose not to stand up against the lies of revisionists because we are tired or have been threatened or simply choose not to care. But Archimedes Trajano, Leticia Ladlad, and the martyrs of martial law stood up for us. They offered their lives so that we may no longer suffer the oppression of martial law. We who now enjoy democracy and the protection of human rights because of their sacrifices must carry the responsibility of making sure that martial law is never repeated.

We must gather efforts to make sure that our country does not regress to the brutal ways of dictatorial rule. Let us build together collective solutions that will move our country forward in spite of the debt, which we will be paying until 2025. Let us set things right for our coconut farmers who were defrauded in the Coco Levy Fund scam. For the martyrs and victims of martial law, let us commit with courage and enduring principle to defending truth against lies, and upholding justice wherever it is most needed.


Read in Tagalog

Apatnapu’t-apat na taon na ang nakalipas nang isailalim ng dating diktador ang ating bansa sa kawalang katarungan ng batas militar.

Nasayang ang isang henerasyon ng matatapang at mahuhusay na mga Pilipino tulad ni Archimedes Trajano at Leticia Ladlad dahil sa mga pagpaslang at forced disappearances noong madilim na panahong iyon. Sa isang open forum noong Agosto 31, 1977, tinanong ni Trajano, isang mag-aaral ng Mapua Institute of Technology, ang anak ng diktador na si Imee Marcos ukol sa kanyang appointment bilang pambansang tagapangulo ng Kabataang Barangay. Dahil dito, siya ay dinukot, in-interrogate, at dumanas ng matinding torture hanggang mamatay sa ilalim ng military personnel intelligence. Sa kabilang dako, si Ladlad ay isang mag-aaral ng Agricultural Chemistry sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Los Baños (UPLB). Isang aktibista, si Ladlad at ang kanyang mga kasamahang tinagpo sa may Paco Church noong 1975 ay hindi na muling nakita ng kanilang mga kamag-anak.

Apat na dekada na ang nakalipas ngunit patuloy pa rin nating binabayaran ang tinatayang $27 bilyong utang ng diktadurya. Ang ating industriya ng niyog ay patuloy na nagdurusa dahil sa Coco Levy Fund scam.

At mas masahol pa, hinaharap natin ngayon ang mga pinopondohang propaganda na naglalayong kalimutan natin ang mga maraming pagkakasala ng diktadurya.

Hindi natin kinakalimutan: Ang batas militar ay labag sa batas; ginamit ang karahasan at kawalang-katarungan laban sa sarili nitong mamamayan; ginawang normal ang katiwalian at pag-abuso sa kapangyarihan.

Nakakalungkot lang na minsan ay wari’y nakakalimutan natin ito. Minsan pinipili natin manahimik sa harap ng mga kasinungalingan ng mga revisionists dahil tayo’y pagod o ‘di kaya ay binantaan o dahil wala lang talaga tayong pakialam. Ngunit ipinaglaban tayo ni Archimedes Trajano, Leticia Ladlad, at ng iba pang mga martir. Tayo ay nakikinabang sa demokrasya at mga karapatang pantao dahil sa kanilang mga sakripisyo. Tungkulin nating tiyaking ang martial law ay hindi na mauulit.

Kailangan nating tipunin ang ating mga pagsisikap at tiyaking hindi na muling babalik ang ating bayan sa mga kahindik-hindik na pamamaraan ng diktaturya. Sama-sama nating buohin ang mga solusyong magpapaunlad sa ating bansa sa kabila ng utang na kailangan nating bayaran hanggang 2025. Gawin natin ang tama para sa ating mga magniniyog na nilinlang sa Coco Levy Fund. Para sa mga martir at mga biktima ng Martial Law, ilaan natin ang ating matapang at matatag na prinsipyo sa pagtatanggol ng katotohanan laban sa kasinungalingan, at pagtataguyod ng katarungan kung saan man ito ay pinaka kailangan.