N.B.

The following article was a widely-disseminated pamphlet signed by around 110 Filipinos who openly declared their opposition to Martial Law in 1975. An original copy is found at the National Library of the Philippines Presidential Room (Fil 342.5990628 M56 1975).

A Message of Hope to Filipinos Who Care
With the coming of the third year of martial law in September 1975, a small group of activists, led by a Protestant layman (Sen. Jovito R. Salonga) and a Jesuit priest (Horacio dela Costa, S.J.), began meeting from time to time to write and publish an analysis of three years of martial rule, an evaluation of the New Society, a projection of the future and a proposed alternative. The future, in their view, was bleak on account of the internal contradictions of the New Society. But their opposition to martial rule was as unwavering as their rejection of the CPP-NPA pro-Maoist dogma and its formula of armed struggle. They had to answer the question of whether they would ever resort to violence. Their answer is found in the excerpts and in last part of this Message of Hope. Three years of martial law provide us with ample basis for an analysis of` significant events before and after its imposition. Such an analysis will help us see where we Filipinos are headed for and what we should do, in the light of our basic goals and values as a people. The assertion has often been made that before the proclamation of martial law in September 1972, the Philippines had been a "sick society." There is little doubt about the validity of the statement: what may be questioned is the implied contrast between the "old" and the "new" society and the inferences drawn from it. Distribution of wealth before martial law Long before martial law was declared, distribution of wealth and income had been lopsided. The group at the top of the pyramid controlled the bulk of the nation's wealth. According to one study, less than 20% of the population held 65% of the national income and wealth, while 80% of the people had to divide among themselves the remaining 35%. The Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) revealed, in another pre-martial law survey, that 1,400 enterprises, wholly or partially foreign-owned, dominated the petroleum, drug, fertilizer, tire and rubber, gold, copper, iron, chemical and metal industries, as well as practically the whole import and export trade. This undue concentration of wealth in a few hands, which spawned and spawns a long list of problems and injustices, may be traced to colonial exploitation, compounded by our own vices and weaknesses as a people. It is the central problem of the nation. Massive poverty, gross inequality, unemployment, malnutrition, crime and disease, political 1

corruption, agrarian and urban unrest, ignorance and superstition, are among its most obvious manifestations. The presidential election of 1969 In 1970, the nation was jolted into an awareness that its problems over-passed such palliatives as political harangues and the tongue-in-cheek launching of social and economic "programs." Instead of rejoicing over the "overwhelming" expression of the national will embodied in the results of the presidential elections of November 1969, many people were angry and justly so. They realized they could not celebrate an election triumph that had been marred by shameless raids on the public treasury, amounting to almost a billion pesos and tainted by wholesale frauds and unbelievable acts of violence. The presidential contest of 1969, going far beyond all previous elections in terms of what was described by responsible newsmen as the "three G's" — guns, goons and gold — brought to the fore the question of whether the system was so vicious and hopeless that it should be cast overboard. Student demonstrations and riots The question was partly answered in a spate of demonstrations, marches and riots in the cities. Students, peasants, wage-earners, religious men and women and intellectuals seem to have found a common cause. 'I'he whole nation caught the mood of the times when they saw on then TV screens then newly elected President and his First Lady under attack by student demonstrators at the opening session of Congress. In a matter of days, the Presidential Palace was besieged by the demonstrators who suffered injury and death in the ensuing clash with the Armed Forces. Demonstrations grew in number and intensity as the President yielded to the demands of the students for the ouster of his key men involved in election irregularities and in scandalous acts of corruption. Unfortunately, some demonstrations erupted into riots and alienated the community that had been initially sympathetic to the cause of the students. Student leaders found later that their ranks had been infiltrated by Government hirelings who instigated the demonstrators into committing acts of vandalism. In the meantime, the demand for a new National Charter that would permit the restructuring of society mounted. Congress finally yielded to the pressure by authorizing the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention, despite the lingering fears of not a few people that the Convention itself might be manipulated. The elections for delegates were held in November 1970 and the Convention opened in 1971 amidst a welter of hopes and fears. The Plaza Miranda bombing But that year marked another rise in violence. In August 1971, at a public rally of the 2

Liberal Party, where its candidates for national and local offices were scheduled to be proclaimed, fragmentation grenades were hurled at the stage, resulting in several deaths among the onlookers and serious injuries to the top officials and candidates of the Opposition. Disgust, anger and outrage swept the nation at such pointless violence. President Marcos quickly suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and promised an immediate solution to the bombing mys\tery, which he blamed on the NPAs (New People's Army). Crippled as much by their injuries as by their lack of funds and organization, the Opposition candidates swept the national elections — a clear warning to the President that the party in power would be thrown out by the people in 1973. 1972 – The year of crisis The year 1972 began, auspiciously enough, with the lifting of the suspension of the privilege of the writ. But it turned out to be the year of profound crisis. The whole nation was shocked by the revelations of Convention Delegate Eduardo Quintero, a former Ambassador, that meetings of Convention delegates had been called in the Presidential Palace where bribe money was given and taken. Quintero was widely hailed as a hero. But so systematic was the process of deglamorization and persecution applied to him that in the end he found himself the accused, rather than the complainant. Torrential rains battered the islands in July and August of 1972 and many places, particularly Central Luzon, were under several feet of water, silt and mud. Public and private organizations rushed relief to the areas of disaster, but it was evident that so much poverty, misery and disease could not be remedied by mere acts of charity, however wellintentioned these might be. Then, just as the people were beginning to recover from the effects of the rains and the floods, the Government announced the discovery of a shipment of arms, purportedly for the New People's Army (NPA), at Digoyo Point, Isabela. A series of mysterious bombings took place in the Greater Manila Area during August and the first three weeks of September. Only one, however, was reported solved: a Constabulary sergeant assigned to the Firearms and Explosives Section of the Philippine Constabulary was found responsible for the bombing of a department store in downtown Manila. The other explosions — at the NAWASA water system, the comfort room of the Constitutional Convention, the City Hall of Manila and other places — remain unsolved to this day. Salvador P. Lopez, President of the University of the Philippines at the time, described the worsening situation, thus: "The tension between a terrible sense of urgency and an overpowering sense of helplessness in coping with forces difficult to identify can well be imagined. It seemed as if a great pall of doom had descended upon the land." The proclamation of martial law It was in this setting of anarchy, public confusion, terror and despair, occurring just one year before the end of his unextendible second term, that President Ferdinand Marcos 3

proclaimed martial law. The proclamation was dated September 21,1972 — the day when Congress was scheduled to adjourn for the year. But Congress did not finish its task on that date and the public release ol the proclamation had to be deferred. Following a reported "ambush" of the Secretary of National Defense on the night of September 22, 1972 — an event which no one in the martial-law administration even cares to talk about — prominent personalities, all of whom had been critical of the Marcos Administration, were put under arrest. The next day, September 23, the President announced through the facilities of a television station controlled by one of his closest associates — all others had been shut down in the meantime — that he had signed Proclamation No. 1081, as of September 21, 1972, placing the Philippines under martial law allegedly "to save the Republic and reform society." He cited the Maoist insurgency and the Muslim rebellion as the main reasons for imposing martial law. The birth of the New Society By and large, our people, sick and tired of unsolved bombings, riots, ambushes, graft, inefficiency and official misdeeds, felt something had to be done. They quietly accepted the assurances of the President that in resorting to the extre'me remedy, he was motivated only by his desire to "save the Republic and reform society." Those of religious bent who wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt recalled St. Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. The Old Society was discredited and repudiated. The so-called New Society was born., with a set of brand-new slogans. Everything that was bad and repugnant was ascribed to the Old Society. The New Society was supposed to represent everything good — a new sense of discipline, uprightness and love of country. One-man rule The President assumed all the powers of government and placed all its agencies and instrumentalities under his personal control, including the Judiciary. One-man rule was installed, supported by the Armed Forces. One of the earliest reform measures was the increase in the monthly base pay of all commissioned officers, from Second Lieutenant to General. The mass media, the newspapers and TV-radio stations, were.seized by the Armed Forces. Suddenly, the people realized that while public order had been restored and the crime rate had dropped dramatically, they lost in turn their freedom to speak and publish their views. Mass action was prohibited. Criticism of public officials was forbidden. Workers lost their right to strike and picket. Prominent oppositionists were thrown into army camps. Outspoken journalists and publishers were imprisoned. Most of the Constitutional Convention delegates, who were against the idea of prolonging the term of the President beyond the time prescribed by the prevailing Constitution, suddenly found themselves under arrest. Others were placed under 4

close military surveillance. Student leaders, professors, intellectuals and union organizers, who had protested against gross social injustices, were rounded up by the military. The Con-Con and the transitory provisions The Constitutional Convention, cowed by the arrest and incarceration of independentminded delegates, resumed its sessions. A motion to suspend deliberations while martial law was in operation was overwhelmingly defeated. Uncommitted delegates realized, to their dismay, that the Convention was no longer a free agent. The Palace had scored another coup. Deliberation on the main body of the proposed Constitution was suspended. A set of Transitory Provisions, prepared in Malacanang, was submitted to the Convention for immediate action. The draft sought to legalize the imposition of martial law, ratify all the orders and decrees of the President and vest in him all the powers of the President under the Old Constitution and all the powers of the Prime Minister under the New Constitution. In addition, he was to be acting Speaker of the interim Assembly which was supposed to convene immediately upon call of the President. It was to be composed mainly of the Convention delegates who had voted for the Transitory Provisions and members of Congress who would opt to serve in the Assembly. The New Constitution was supposed to establish a parliamentary form of government and the Transitory Provisions would provide the bridge between the old and the new. Except for a few who saw through the whole scheme, the Convention delegates, who had been lured by the bait of membership in the interim Assembly, voted to suspend the rules of parliamentary order and approved in lightning-speed the Palace-drafted Transitory Provisions, ahead of the main body of the Constitution, thereby establishing a unique precedent in the history of Constitution-drafting. On November 30,1972 the entire proposed Constitution, with the Transitory Provisions, was signed by most of the delegates, hoping they would dominate the law making body which was supposed to exist "immediately" upon the ratification of the New Charter. The plebiscite that never was With remarkable speed, the President decreed that a national plebiscite on the New Constitution would be held on January 15, 1973. Perceptive observers were struck by the good sense of timing. Congress, under the Old Constitution, was supposed to convene on January 22, 1973, but the ratification of the New Constitution would mean the outright abolition of Congress — the political branch that could, if it had the will, challenge the indefinite imposition of one-man rule. Most of the Congressmen were called to the Palace. They agreed to dissolve themselves, hoping they would be reconstituted as members of parliament. A good number even campaigned for the New Constitution. The holding of the plebiscite was promptly questioned by various groups in the Supreme Court, on two grounds: lack of freedom of choice under martial law and lack of sufficient time for discussion and debate. 5

Sensing adverse public reaction to the idea of a plebiscite without public discussion, President Marcos issued a directive on December 21, 1972, ordering the suspension of the effects of martial law to allow "free and open debates." I le also announced he was studying a proposal to postpone the plebiscite to a later date. Free public debate: the embarrassing questions It was during the limited period of free public debate on the New Constitution that tremendous opposition to the martial law regime surfaced. It was as if a bewildered, confused people, in a brief period of freedom and reflection, saw through the whole charade. Placed under scrutiny during these debates were the convenient and easy assumptions that democracy, Western style, does not fit the Philippine situation, that the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Constitution are of little value to a people concerned with the problem of daily survival and that martial law Philippine style, would reform our sick society. Embarassing questions began to be asked. Who would actually benefit from one-man rule? Who was responsible for the unsolved bombings? Who tolerated the multiplication of private armies and the wholesale smuggling of firearms? If, indeed, drastic reforms had to be instituted to save the Republic, should it be the Chief Executive of the bad Old Society that should now lead the crusade for a good New Society? Can the Republic be saved by destroying it? Cannot the remedies proposed be applied, as pointed out by one member of the Supreme Court, through the exercise of emergency powers, which could have easily been given by Congress, a body dominated by the President's own party, instead of installing a dictatorship? Why the imprisonment of the most credible and responsible people in the mass media, independent delegates in the Convention and political rivals and opponents of the President? Looking back on their history, the people began to see that their own Malolos Constitution, born in the throes of the Revolution of 1896, guaranteed the basic freedoms of speech and press, peaceful assembly and mass action. It clearly provided for the rule of the people, not the rule of one man. They were reminded that it was their own national hero, Jose Rizal, who, in his famous Letter to the Women of Malolos, said: "Men are born equal, naked and without chains. They were not created by God to be enslaved, neither were they endowed with intelligence to be fooled by others." They reviewed the democratic tradition "established since the turn of the century in the Philippines, under American tutelage, and realized that despite its weaknesses and defects, they had a functioning democracy. From July 4,1946, when the nation became independent, to November 1969, when President Marcos won a second four-year term, no Philippine president, in spite of all the built-in advantages of an incumbent, had been re-elected. Local politicians, known for their corrupt practices, had been booted out by their outraged constituencies. As one disinterested observer pointed out: 6

"Rascals frequently were turned out of office in the Philippines, even if new ones were voted in. There was a genuine balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of the government, even if this sometimes resulted in political stalemate and administrative inaction. The Philippines had a thoroughly free, if frequently irresponsible, press." The accomplishments of martial law While crediting martial law with immediate accomplishments — the confiscation of unlicensed firearms, the dismantling of private armies and crime syndicates, the cleaning up of streets, the summary dismissal of minor employees with records of graft, corruption and inefficiency, the tightening up of customs and tax collection — they realized that all these could have been done long ago by a no-nonsense implementation of the law and that anarchy, violence and corruption could have been minimized if the high executive officials in the Government did not look with tolerance upon the wholesale violation of existing rules. It was noted that the most notorious cases involved the political lieutenants and cronies of the President. How long will martial law last? The free discussion on the New Constitution underscored one question — how long will martial law last? Shortly after martial was proclaimed, the President gave the world to understand in a TV-satellite interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" program that this was only a temporary expedient and that it might be lifted before the end of his term in December 1973, when he would surely relinquish power. But the Palace-drafted Transitory Provisions killed that hope. Clearly, martial law and one-man rule were intended to stay indefinitely. There would be no elections in November 1973 and the President, contrary to his own repeated avowals, would stay in power. Ironically, the excuse was found in a New Constitution that was supposed to curb the abuses and excesses of a system which he, more than any figure, represented. The New Society and its lack of ideology If the New Society had an overriding ideology to which the people can make a genuine commitment, it would not be so bad. But it has none. Whatever us pretensions about equalization of opportunity and democratization of wealth, its principal motivation is too obvious to require any elaboration. The periodic outbursts ol insurgency in remote places would furnish the rationale and the so-called social and economic reforms would silence the skeptics and disarm the progressives, the radicals and the traditional opposition. The Citizens' Assemblies (Barangays) and the "ratification" of the New Constitution On New Year's Eve, the Palace announced the creation of Citizens' Assemblies, 7

otherwise known as barangays, purportedly for purposes of "loose consultation" with the people on important public issues. On January 7,1973, the President announced the "indefinite postponement" of the plebiscite. Because the people were "backsliding," the full severity of martial law was re-imposed. Public debates and discussions on the New Constitution were prohibited. Then, on January 10, 1973 — five days before the original date of the plebiscite that had been "postponed indefinitely" — the Citizens' Assemblies were hastily convened for a day-to-day consultation up to the 15th of that month. They were supposed to vote by raising their hands on a set of questions drafted by the Palace: "Do you like the New Society?" "Do you like the reforms under martial law?" "Do you like the way President Marcos is running the affairs of the government?" At the last minute, a new question was added: "Do you approve of the New Constitution?" On January 16, just one day after the close of the barangay consultations, the Daily Express announced that 88% of the barangays all over the country had already turned in "certified results" — an instant miracle that added insult to the injury committed against the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the constitutional agency in charge of all plebiscites, whose intervention was ruled out. The next day, that, is, on January 17,1973, the President, amidst great fanfare, proclaimed before a hurriedly-assembled crowd at the Palace that more than 95% of the people in the barangays had "overwhelmingly ratified" the new Constitution. A farce and a mockery So fast and foul was the whole exercise that many people could hardly believe what they read in the newspapers. The foreign press reported what it saw and called it a farce and a mockery. A good number of Filipinos, until then in favor of the imposition of martial law, felt deceived and offended. Many did not know that there were barangays meetings going on in all kinds of places. The Supreme Court and the New Constitution Not even the Supreme Court, most of whose members are appointees of the President, could say that the New Constitution had been ratified by the people, as the one-man ruler had announced. By a 6-4 vote, they held that the proposed Constitution was "not validly ratified" in accordance with the prevailing Constitution. Nevertheless, they approved a lastminute insertion (which provoked many conflicting interpretations) that there was no more "judicial obstacle" to its being considered "in force and effect." As pointed out by Chief Justice Concepcion, who penned the Court's Resolution: "Indeed, I cannot, in good conscience, declare that the proposed constitution has been 8

approved or adopted by the people in the citizens' assemblies all over the Philippines, when it is, to my mind, a matter of judicial knowledge that there have been no such citizens' assemblies in many parts of the Philippines..." The gains of the New Society In the first year of martial law, the mass media announced that tremendous gains had been achieved by the New Society. It was claimed that dollar reserves had reached a new high, foreign investors and tourists were coming in droves, the crime rate had dropped considerably, dissidence was controlled and the political and social situation was stable. That there was a boom in the world market for Philippine exports was a fortuitous contributing factor. Land reform was considered an outstanding success as big landed estates, in excess of 100 hectares, were broken up and distributed to some 144,000 tenants to whom land transfer certificates were issued. By many accounts, 1973 was, indeed, a good year for martial law despite the secession movement of the "Maoist Muslim leaders" and the sporadic attacks of the Maoist NPAs. On June 22, 1973, the President went as far as saying that "there is no real emergency in the country today." Land reform a failure In 1974, disinterested observers saw the situation differently. For example, the World Bank noted that the implementation of the land reform program was becoming "extremely difficult" and that plans of the Government to issue land certificates down to the 24-hectare level "have faltered." A top American expert on land reform, analyzing the figures published by the Government and conducting studies in the rural areas, observed that "land reform is less than 1% complete. Only 4,403 families out of 700,000 have been emancipated through actual payments to the landlord." Another team of experts began doubting the genuineness and depth of the commitment of the leadership to land reform and wondered whether the whole program was merely a convenient plan designed to put off agrarian unrest and provide window-dressing for one-man rule. Parenthetically, in the first quarter of 1975, the Government admitted that only a little more than 190,000 tenants out of an estimated 1 million had been given land transfer certificates. This was the clearest admission that on the basis of the New Society's own projection soon after martial law was proclaimed, land reform was a dismal failure. The Muslims, the repressions and the Peking trip At the same time, the Muslim rebellion took a turn for the worse, draining the resources of the Government and demoralizing the Armed Forces. The Muslim rebels were no longer branded "Maoists." Indeed, the mass media, in preparation for the impending trip of the First Lady to Peking, suddenly dropped any derogatory reference to Chairman Mao. Repression continued. Priests, nuns, missionaries and pastors were picked up and detained for flimsy reasons. In September 1974, the First Lady went to Peking and paid homage to Chairman Mao. 9

Foreign observers were not quite sure whether she knew what she was doing. But Filipinos, especially those in the armed services who had been repeatedly told that the Maoists were our sworn enemies, following her gestures and speeches on television, could not quite understand what they saw and heard. She acclaimed the great Chinese revolution, hailed Chairman Mao as one of the greatest leaders of mankind, kissed him and said: "We are like one family now." The deepening economic crisis Neither the jet trips to faraway places nor the expensive parades, circuses, parties and beauty contests at home could obscure the deepening economic crisis. The boom in the world market for Philippine exports was gone, oil prices were shooting up, imports were eating up our dollar reserves, unemployment was mounting every day and the local stock market was slipping into a long and deep slump. The frightening rate of inflation — between 40% to 44% in mid-1974 according to the official reports of the Central Bank and the NEDA — was bringing enormous suffering to the Filipino masses. The IMF Report for 1974 shows that among the developing countries in Asia, the Philippines had the second highest rate of inflation — mainly the result of a development strategy which puts undue emphasis on exports of our raw materials, rendering us vulnerable to the fluctuations in the world market and on the increasing control of our economy by foreign investors, particularly the giant multinationals. Extravagance and corruption in high places As the year 1975 approached, the most disturbing aspect of the New Society was the prevalence of extravagance and corruption in high places. This is undoubtedly the prime factor that is eroding the credibility of the martial law regime. Key public officials and their relatives were brazenly displaying their wealth — their expensive jewelry, their fabulous birthday gifts to one another, their expensive cars and aircraft, their huge mansions and art collections — in a country where over one million people were totally without work and half of the children suffering from malnutrition. People began to realize that while the business enterprises of the "oligarchs" of the Old Society had been taken away from them, these same firms are now controlled by a new oligarchy close to the very center of power. The military and the technocrats Likewise, to take care of the Armed Forces, the dictator promoted his trusted officers, most of them coming from the Ilocos region, his bailiwick. The technocrats, a few of whom were thought to be honest and able, are obviously enjoying their use of power, notwithstanding their pretensions of being "apolitical." Never had they exercised such power. It was and is, derived from the dictator himself, hence not subject to public accountability. No more newspaper exposes and criticisms, no more investigations, no more public hearings before the elected representatives of the people. Only the one-man ruler must be pleased by a new group ol legitimizers and apologists. 10

Central problem of the Philippines now compounded Thus, the central problem of the Philippines before martial law — namely, the undue concentration of wealth in a few hands, has become compounded. Political power is now monopolized by one man. Wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of persons who either exercise martial law authority, or are their relatives, associates, cronies or patrons. The new oligarchy and a taller pyramid In a related trend, a new oligarchy — apparently more powerful than the old — assumed control of a growing, seemingly endless list of corporations and business firms. The objective, obviously, is maximum control with minimum investment. In short, what the architects of the New Society have constructed is a taller pyramid, with reserved places for themselves, their relatives, their associates — and the foreign investors whose interests they safeguard and defend — at the very top. Under martial law, instant wealth is easy to come by for the few who know the levers and uses of power. The Peking recognition and the local Chinese problem In June, the President and the First Lady made their joint but separate pilgrimage to Peking. (They boarded separate planes.) They went on this pilgrimage with a large entourage, which included top Filipino businessmen, "blue ladies," and the wives of officials they had left behind. After the usual round of adulation, the opening of diplomatic relations with Peking was announced. The President called Chairman Mao the "natural leader" of Asia and the Third world. If the President thought he had disposed of the Chinese problem in one stroke, he was mistaken. In less than a month, a favorite columnist in the controlled press began ranting about the local Chinese communists who were lording it over their fellow Chinese and about the many problems they were causing on the domestic front. Peace and order was and continues to be, the No. 1 "achievement" of the New Society, obviously because of the ban against labor strikes and student demonstrations. But Government figures indicate a rising incidence in crime, particularly offenses against property. Holdups,robberies and thefts continue to increase every day, exept that they are not usually reported in the controlled media. The Muslim rebellion is getting worse, despite endless “peace” negotiations, many of which are denounced as fake by the Muslims themselves. The alleged contrasts between the Old and the New Society So disturbing is the whole situation, especially as compounded by the depressed world market for Philippine exports and the combined impact of inflation and recession, that Secretary of National Defense Enrile, in a speech delivered in July 1975 at the National Defense College, made the candid admission that "the nation still faces the same threats as 11

it did since the imposition of martial law." One reading the speech of the Defense Secretary must begin to wonder what happened to all the alleged contrasts between the Old and the New Society. The President's anniversary speech (September, 1975) and the "cleanup" Significantly, the ruler himself, in a speech delivered during the third anniversary celebration of martial law held last September 19, 1975, even went further. He openly admitted the danger that the New Society "is giving birth to a new Government elite, who resurrect in our midst the privileges we fought in the past, who employ the powers of high office for their personal enrichment. There are new sores that are clearly emerging... There has arisen massive opportunities for graft and corruption, the misuse of influence, opportunities which are now being exploited within the government service... I raise my voice in alarm today for we are in fact a nation divided against itself — divided between urban and rural, rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged. Among some of the poor, there is still the nagging fear that they have again been left behind and that we have liquidated an oligarchy only to set up a new oligarchy. . . The dramatic gains of the past three years have ironically intensified natural appetites for finery and show, for lavish parties, flashy cars, mansions, big homes, expensive travel and other counter-productive activities." The New Society is more gravely ill In effect, after three years of martial law, we still have the same old ills, plus all the evils and injustice of one-man rule. If the Old Society was a sick society, the New Society, on the admission of those who administer it, is even more sick, more gravely ill. The little people are hungry and in want. They are as ill-housed and as ill-clothed as before, but now, they are also not free. The wages of laborers have been frozen. And they cannot picket or strike against low wages and bad working conditions. Corruption in Government is the distinguishing feature of the entire establishment. Government financing institutions have been raided, trust funds have been squandered to promote costly, cosmetic projects and incredible scandals involving many millions of pesos are being unearthed almost every day. Graft and misery at home and misrepresentations abroad make Filipinos wonder about the real nature of the New Society. The nation is burdened by huge loans — the World Bank revealed at the end of 1974 that the Philippines is the No. 1 borrower in Asia. Our foreign debt from July 1946 up to December 1972 was only US $ 2.2 billion; after three years of martial law, it is now US$4 billion or more than Php 30 billion (Central Bank Report as of June 30,1975). But the ruling elite does not seem to be bothered. They wallow in wealth and are proud to display their latest acquisitions. The people have no way of knowing where the loans are going. 12

Thousands continue to languish in jails, army stockades and detention centers, deprived of their basic freedoms and constitutional rights. The sad state of the press and the judiciary An independent press could have a valuable function to perform in times like these. But the mass media today — despite the statement of the President on September 20, 1974 that they are "no longer controlled" — will not and cannot speak out against their owners and operators. Ironically, the latter are clothed, by decree, with the power to exclude others who desire to publish what they consider to be the truth. Parenthetically, soon after the ruler made his "the press is free" speech, two successive issues of Newsweek, (September 23 and 30,1974) were banned. In May 1975, the International Press Institute (IPI) unanimously withdrew the recognition accorded the Philippine National Comminee on the ground that "a free' press does not exist in the Philippines." In short, we wore expelled. The judiciary, whose independence was a hallmark of earlier times, is by and large supine and spineless, particularly in cases in which the one-man Executive and his family and associates are interested. The status of judges as "casuals" and the control of the oneman ruler over the whole judiciary, by virtue of General Order No. 1, ("I shall govern the nation and direct the operation of the entire government, including all its agencies and instrumentalities") have shattered the so-called Rule of Law in the Philippines. The lone woman member of the Supreme Court, in a well-applauded speech on Law Day — ironically held during the third anniversary celebration of martial law last September 19,1975 — challenged the judges and the members of the Philippines bar to "master the will, the boldness, the resources and the perseverance to work collectively and decisively for the maintenance of an independent judiciary." She cited the case of a city judge who had served in the judiciary for 22 years and was recommended to the Supreme Court by the Integrated Bar for promotion as judge of the Court of First Instance. His "resignation" was "accepted" by the President. All that the poor, defenseless judge asked was that he be informed of the cause of his separation from the service. Apparently, not even this request was heeded. With one stroke of the pen, the martial-law ruler abolished the system of checks and balances and destroyed the theory of separation of powers. Is this an instance of the pen being mightier than the sword? No, it is not. For the pen he used was the sword, the armed forces of the Republic. The contradictions of the New Society Torn apart by its irreconcilable inconsistencies, the New Society contains the seeds of its own destruction. It speaks of human development, but it operates in the stifling climate of fear, fraud and official violence. It claims to promote overall economic growth, but limits its benefits to a select few. Its high public officials speak of reforming and disciplining society, but, of all the sectors of society, they are the ones that urgently need reform and 13

self-discipline. The President said so in his anniversary speech of September 19,1975. Now, everyone seems to realize that a good and just society cannot be organized and maintained, solely or mainly, by military force. Nor can its reformation depend on a siring of slogans or a daily production of headlines.The classic dilemma and the probable response of the various, sectors With the steady deterioration of the situation, more and more Filipinos will be confronted by the classic dilemma: resistance with all its hazards, or acquiescence with its prejudicial consequences to the whole nation. The students, the educated unemployed and the intellectuals who have seen through the whole scheme since martial law was proclaimed, will be among the first to resolve the dilemma, along with the most aggrieved elements of society. They will probably resolve it by facing all the risks of redemptive effort. The Church, as usual, will be divided. The progressive elements will be articulate but the conservatives, most of whom are subservient, will have the votes in any showdown. The business community will remain cowed and acquiescent, however resentful some of its members may be. Profits derive from a "stable" social and political order and this is what is important to them. To the typical businessman, the old dictum of Goethe applies: if he has to make a choice between disorder and injustice, he would choose injustice. By and large, the military cannot be expected to give up the power they now enjoy. They have received tremendous material benefits and they see their Commander-in-Chief as the source of their power and privileges. Discipline, their own brand of loyalty, regional and personal considerations will weigh heavily on the senior officers. How the junior officers and enlisted men will react to a crisis that can no longer be reversed and which will affect their own families and relations, is anybody's guess. Incidentally, responsible American officials claim they are not interfering in the internal affairs of the Philippines. It is a little difficult to see how this can be, in view of the presence of its strategic naval and air bases here, its extensive business interests — the biggest of all foreign investments — and its increasing military and economic support. But what they say is something to which we must agree: namely, that violations of basic human rights, the prevalence of social and economic injustices and the destruction of democracy and freedom in the land, are problems that must be faced by Filipinos themselves, In the final analysis, only we Filipinos can solve our own problems, on the basis of our own national interest. The explosive Muslim situation will continue to plague the authorities, despite the apparent breakdown of the rebellion in some places. The basic problems have not been resolved. They may have been exacerbated by the coddling of the "balikbayan" rebels and the appointment of new officials who are not accepted by the Muslim community. The NPA is a source of endless headaches to the military establishment. It has the ideology, the organization and the willingness to fight against all odds. Unless a third 14

alternative is presented to the people, the country may well be polarized between an armysupported dictatorship and a Maoist-inspired movement. An appeal to our people We believe in the urgency and wisdom of change. The ruler himself admits that martial law is a temporary constitutional expedient (Foreword, "Notes on the New Society, " 1973) . But more important than this is our conviction that the best human arrangements are imperfect and must be subject to continuing improvement and renewal. Even if one-man rule were to suddenly disappear, we would still be engaged in the task of speaking the truth and working for freedom and justice. Our first task — to speak the truth The first task of those who, like us, feel the sting of oppression is to speak the truth with boldness and sincerity. Let us tell the authorities and the whole nation what we believe, what we think, how we feel on important public issues and why. Not only is this right guaranteed by the laws of the land, but free expression will be helpful to those in power. It will also be good for us. To be able to say No to something we consider contrary to our conscience, to condemn injustice when we witness it, to call exploitation by its right name and propose remedies we consider workable, is a liberating experience, not only for the governed, but for him who governs. This is satyagraha, the force of truth to which Mahatma Gandhi devoted his entire life. If what we say is true and our demands are just, those who ignore or condemn us will be condemning themselves in the end. History teaches that any man in power is powerful only if the people obey him. The power of the few and the non-violent resistance of the many The events of the last three years in Thailand, Greece and Portugal indicate that the power of the few can be effectively overcome by the non-cooperation of the many. We believe that when a system becomes so unjust and oppressive that more and more people are minded to resist its commands, a deliberate and public refusal to obey becomes a supreme act of conscience. A non-violent system of non-cooperation, adequately carried out at the proper time, can render the ways of violence unnecessary. As long as peaceful methods of resistance to injustice and oppression are effective, we shall get rid of them. But we also recognize the superior right of the people to defend themselves, in extreme situations, by such means as they may consider necessary. However strong our bias in favor of non-violence may be, there is a point when an oppressed people must make a choice between condoning the violence of injustice and using violent methods 15

in the search for justice. As the American Declaration of Independence of July 4,1776 put it so aptly: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." Our people who do not approve of one-man rule, on the one hand, or the Communist order of doing things, on the other, should now begin to reflect on what the third alternative might be. The analysis and evaluation here presented are meant to provide a basis for such reflection. As the fourth year of martial rule begins, we invite all Filipuiociti/.ens who love their country to make the stand and the commitment here expressed their own. Truth, justice and freedom Put in the simplest terms, it is a commitment to truth, justice and freedom. In matters of national concern, truth is arrived at only if there is responsible freedom of expression. That freedom must therefore be restored and maintained. Justice also demands that the right of every man, woman and child of this nation to integral human development be recognized—and not only recognized but rendered operative. This means that we must construct a society in which every individual shall have rightful access to the resources and the basic values — spiritual as well as material — which he will need to develop himself to the highest level of his potentialities. This access is what makes him free. Such a society can be best established and maintained only under a government that is participatory; a government in which the people are free to take part in the decisions that affect their livelihood and their lives; a government in which those to whom the people entrust the powers of government are accountable to the body politic; a government in which the mechanisms exist to make that accountability not fiction but fact. A commitment to truth, justice and freedom: Let that be our third alternative. A commitment to truth, justice and freedom is also a commitment to the future: the survival of our nation in a future that is dark, but not without hope. A commitment to truth, justice and freedom is a commitment to the Philippines. 16

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful