[Left panel shows President-elect Rodrigo Roa Duterte (“Pres. Rody”) with the seal of the President of the Republic of the Philippines shown in the background. At right panel is the photograph of the former Philippine strong-man, President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (whom Pres. Rody acknowledged as the best President of the country), as he announced the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972.]
I am a senior citizen who has lived in our beloved country for THREE (3) scores and almost SEVEN (7) years now. Based on my experience, I could doughtily assert that a Filipino leader who wants success in the country’s governance, ought to instill fear in the hearts and minds of the ordinary Filipino, to make things happen.
When martial law was imposed, and fear was instilled in the minds of the Filipino people, the first years thereof (except that a lot of my more militant and progressive friends would perhaps raise their hands in protest) was pleasant and delightful.
Though I participated in those unruly and violent demonstrations and rallies of the 70s, being a UP Diliman student myself (as in fact I was a participator in the 1971 Diliman Commune, except that in deference to my father’s edict for me not to enlist as a card-carrying member of either the KM or SDK), I never got fully brainwashed and/or indoctrinated in the ways of the left. The left then would laudatorily label their teachings under the jargon of being arising from NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC aspirations of the plebeian poor and not outright, as ideals of COMMUNISM.
Indeed, criminality was reduced by reason of the imposition of curfew and the widespread presence of the military in the streets. In fact, civilian-clad marshals were employed to insure that in every bus plying EDSA then, there is at least one armed soldier who will guard the commuters to thwart the then prevalent pickpocket heists. Food sufficiency was achieved through the Green Revolution and the Masagana 99 as well as the Biyayang-Dagat programs.
Truly, the martial law era gave priority and accorded much of its thrust to the more tangible freedoms and rights (i.e. freedom from want and hunger, right to a livelihood, etc.) as against the supposedly-perceived amorphous and chimerical concepts (in the eyes of the holders of powers then) such as the freedoms of speech and of the press.
The streets especially in Metro-Manila were so neat, tidy and clean through the ubiquitous presence of the Metro aides. There was order too in the bus terminals as well as in jeepney loading stations, as commuters started to learn how to queue in an orderly manner. Simply stated, discipline was re-instilled in the minds of the Filipinos, as even the sporting of long hair was banned, making the barber shops’ businesses even more lucrative. What is more, wives and parents were ecstatic, as their husbands and children will all be neatly tucked in their beds at home just before the midnight curfew.
The martial law years also made remarkable leaps in the field of housing as in fact I worked for more than a decade in the Tondo Foreshore Urban Renewal Program from 1974 to 1986.
During my stint in that Tondo Foreshore project where homelots were sold and awarded to poor residents of Tondo Foreshore area at Php 95.00 per square meter, the poor people of Tondo Foreshore felt very much elated as the renewal program and the concomitant award of homelots which they can then call as their very own, accorded them much dignity and self-esteem.
By way of a cursory aside, martial law has been pictured as a monstrous contrivance enacted by former Pres. Marcos which was then continuously covertly demonized with the help then by the militant, nay radical underground media, and the opportunistic oligarchs of the country. In truth, martial law derailed the aspirations of the leftist movement to triumph in the continuing psy-war scenario and eventually wrest control over the government’s political power. What could be stressed as the principal accomplishment of the Marcos era, was its monumental strides that it waged that kept the country totally shielded from a communists’ takeover. Those who would regard martial law as evil are usually those who are identified with the left and those others who feel so proud to be labeled as militant, radical, feisty and young turks, on the one hand. On the other hand, those politicians too who have felt that Marcos would perpetually reign supreme thereby depriving them the opportunity to rule themselves, have vilified martial law as depraved and iniquitous.
I would undoubtedly join President-elect Rody Duterte’s (“Pres. Rody”) acknowledgment that Pres. Marcos was the best President that our country has ever had as he had grandly announced in one of his campaign spiels.
In a virtual redux, particularly on the matter of instilling fear in the hearts and minds of the Filipino people, I got re-affirmed on this issue by a good friend of mine. This good friend of mine and my next-door neighbor who exudes much more wisdom and maturity, categorically told me that he also steadfastly believes that fear must be instilled in the hearts and minds of the Filipino to instill discipline into their subconscious minds.
We, myself and my aforesaid friend, are in fact sharing in the commonality that the martial law experience has given much affirmation to the perception that to instill discipline in the Filipino, fear must be fostered in their pugnacious minds.
Thus, in our trek towards a better and a favorably changed Philippine society, we, myself and my friend and next-door-neighbor, Jimmy Zambrano, are one and certain, in our common yearning and aspiration that Pres. Rody must wield an iron-hand and must sow terror against the few who are evil, so that the great majority will be able to live in peace and contentment in our beloved country, the Philippines.
Along this line therefore, the trek that should now be trod is towards the healing of the nation after that divisive electoral exercise and for us, to now wholeheartedly support our elected leader, Pres. Rody!