Statement of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on 47th anniversary of martial law

September 20, 2019

Kung merong kategorya ng baby boomer at millennial, ang kategorya ko ay martial-law baby. Mula two years old hanggang 23 years old, wala akong alam na pangulo kundi si Marcos.

Natuto akong maglakad, magbasa, at magsulat, si Marcos ang pangulo. Nahilig ako sa volleyball, sa swing, sa girls, si Marcos ang diktador. Sa kabutihang palad, namulat o naging “woke” ako sa pagnanakaw ng kanyang rehimen sa ating kaban ng bayan, sa pananakit sa ating kapwa, sa mga pagsasalbahe sa ating bayan, pinapatalsik na si Marcos.

Kung ang “panahon ng Hapon” ang defining period sa ating mga magulang, martial law ang sa henerasyon ko. Sa mga millennial, ano kaya ito?

Ang mga pinanalong kalayaan ng mga martial-law babies, unti-unting nilulusaw. Namumulubi ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda, at mahal pa rin ang presyo ng pagkain kahit pa ang sagana ng ani o ng dagat-yaman natin. Nagbabalikan ang mga sakit na kayang-kayang iwasan: tigdas, dengue, at polio. Marami pa rin ang krimen sa kalye, pati na ang patayan sa mismong loob ng mga barong-barong ng ating mahihirap na kababayan. Palalalain pa ng krisis sa klima ang mga dalawampung bagyong bumabayo sa bansa taon-taon.

Kaya ito ang hamon ng mga martial-law babies na tulad ko sa mga millennial ngayong 47th year ng martial law. Sinulat ito ng isa ring martial-law baby na si Abraham “Ditto” Sarmiento, na hinuli dahil sa kanyang critical na editorial sa Philippine Collegian. Kinulong siya sa Fort Bonifacio at Camp Crame, at dahil hikain, naging sanhi ito ng kanyang pagkamatay. Sabi niya: Kung di tayo kikibo, sino ang kikibo? Kung di tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?

If there are baby boomers and millennials, I am a martial-law baby. From two to 23 years old, I knew of no president but Marcos.

When I learned to walk, read, and write, Marcos was president. When I learned to like volleyball, the swing, and girls, Marcos was dictator. Fortunately, when I became “woke” to his regime’s robbery of our nation’s coffers, to wounding our fellow human beings, to thrash our country, Marcos was being ousted.

If “panahon ng Hapon” was the defining moment for our parents, for my generation it was martial law. To millennials, what would it be?

The victories martial-law babies won are gradually being frittered away. Our farmers and fishermen are being impoverished, and food prices are still high despite our plentiful harvest and our rich fishing grounds. Preventable diseases — measles, dengue, and polio — are making a comeback. Crimes still plague the streets, including the massacre of our poor countrymen inside their own homes. The climate crisis will aggravate the over 20 typhoons a year that pound our country.

So on this 47th year of martial law, this is the challenge of martial-law babies like me for millennials. It was written by another martial-law baby, Abraham “Ditto” Sarmiento, who was arrested for his critical editorial in the Philippine Collegian. His imprisonment at Fort Bonifacio and Camp Crame aggravated his asthmatic condition and caused his death. He said: “Who will speak up if we don’t? Who will act if we don’t? If not now, when?”

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