Going half a century post-martial rule in the Philippines under strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr., victims and opposition personalities continue their call of “Never Again, Never Forget, Tuloy ang Laban,” at the campaign kick-off of ‘Martial Law 50’ held at the Quezon City Sports Club on July 21, 2022.
Participated by various civic organizations and personalities, the ML50 movement serves as a commemoration of the 50-year fight of people against authoritarianism.
In the opening statement of convener Atty. Edre Olalia explained the purpose of ML50.
“Kailangan natin magsalita laban sa walang katarungan. Kasi, kailangan nating ipagpatuloy ang laban sa mga lehitimong kosa natin, at pangatlo, kailangan nating i-assert ang ating mga karapatan,” Olalia stated.
The campaign, as explained by former Martial Law political prisoner Boni Ilagan in his unity statement, also acts as a challenge for people to fight against disinformation on Martial Law.
“Tayo ay naninindigan sa pagsalungat sa agos ng disimpormasyon na pinakikinabangan ng diktadurkyang Marcos, at para sa matapang na komemorasyon ng magiting na pakikibaka ng sambayanan laban sa awtoritaryanismo,” said Ilagan.
The youth as a solution
Panelists and conveners during the launch emphasized that the youth should take part in civic organizations and causes against distortion in the history of Martial Law.
According to Kej Andres, a panelist at the event and the national spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, it is the youth’s power and talent that should be incorporated in the fight against authoritarian rule and for human rights.
“Kakayahan, talento, at lakas ng kabataan ay dapat isinasanib sa batayang masa at bumubuo sa alyansa laban sa diktadurya at karapatang pantao,” Andres stated.
The conveners also related the electoral participation of the youth to their valuable part in ML50, which they referred to as a showcase of their united stance against oppression and their will to create change for the country.
As expressed by panelist Judy Taguiwalo, former DSWD secretary and convener of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMA), “Pinakita ng kabataan noong nakaraang eleksyon ang pangarap nila na mas mahusay na pamamalakad sa bayan natin. Ang movement natin ngayon, ang ML50, ay isang larangan para ipagpatuloy ang laban, dahil hindi naman nagtapos [ang laban] sa eleksyon.”
Other members of the panel, namely, Professor Francis Geologo, lead convener of Tanggol Kasaysayan, and Director Joel Lamangan, member of the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, likewise reiterated that the impunities of Martial Law should not be forgotten and be used to demand greater accountability from the Marcoses.
“Tumayo, tumindig, at lumaban na hindi na natin pababayaang muli ang nangyari limampung taon na ang nakakaraan…huwag tayong sumali sa mga taong nagtatakip ng katotohanan,” exclaimed Lamangan.
The same message is also delivered by co-conveners of the event, including prominent political personalities like former Senator Leila de Lima, through a representative, and former House Representatives Erin Tanada and Neri Colmenares.
“It is but appropriate that we continue to call that Martial Law be always remembered, that accountability and justice must still be extracted from the Marcoses,” Colmenares noted.
The event, which shall be commemorated in line with the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, includes a set of activities like various movements; webinars in schools and communities; art, film, and theatrical shows; and the creation of instructional materials that aim to deepen the people’s knowledge about Martial Law.
Written by Godwin Pring