Thousands of people joined protest actions in various parts of the Philippines and around the world on 21 September, marking the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.. Protesters in Australia, Thailand, Hongkong, the Netherlands, USA and in the Philippines, decried the Marcoses’ return to power, condemning the historical revisionism and whitewashing of the atrocities committed during the dictatorship.
In Metro Manila, Philippines, some 8,000 took to the streets, chanting “Never Again, Never Forget”. In Cebu City, in central Philippines, protesters were chanting, “Reject Marcos!” In Cagayan de Oro City, in southern Philippines, youth and religious groups organized a prayer rally, commemorating the many victims of Martial Law and uniting against state repression.
Marcos Sr. declared Martial Law on 21 September 1972, curtailing public associations, public assembly, closing down the press and padlocking the Congress. Human rights groups documented around 70,000 victims of prolonged detention, 34,000 tortured and over 3,200 political killings.
On 18 September, a few days before the 50th Anniversary of Martial Law, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. spoke before the UN General Assembly in New York, USA. He also used the occasion to meet with US President Joe Biden and to speak in different US cities.
Protesters met Marcos, Jr. every step of the way. In New York, protesters condemned the abuses of Martial Law while Marcos, Jr. was speaking before the UN General Assembly. Three of them were arrested, leading to more protests and calls for their release. The three were eventually released.
At the New Jersey Performing Arts, protesters confronted Marcos, Jr. about his family’s stolen wealth and the current economic problems in the Philippines.
The youth group Anakbayan called on the Filipino youth “to be vigilant and to continue the fight that has been raging since Marcos Sr’s bloody dictatorship… We must combat historical revisionism by uplifting the truth and by continuing to wage the people’s struggle,” Anakbayan stated. “Just as young people made the choice to resist against an oppressive regime under Marcos Sr., we must now make that same choice to fight for a Philippines that is truly free and democratic.”
Christina Palabay, Secretary General of Philippine human rights alliance Karapatan, said, “Marcos Jr. used the world stage to talk about lofty universal ideals and principles that he and his family refuse to live by.”
She said, “He continues to justify the human rights violations committed during martial law, while keeping the billions of people’s money stolen by his family and their cronies. It is a grand show of hypocrisy, another act meant to deodorize the atrocious crimes of plunder, massive human rights violations, and exploitation of the Filipino people.”