On the declaration of Martial Law by Marcos forty years ago

By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Forty years ago, on September 21, 1972, then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed General Order 1081, proclaiming martial law over the entire Philippines in order to prolong his rule. For fourteen years the Marcos fascist dictatorship, with the full backing of US imperialism, inflicted terrible hardships and suffering on the Filipino people. But the Filipino people, with the support of freedom-loving peoples all over the world, valiantly struggled against the dictatorship until it was overthrown through a people’s uprising in 1986.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) hails the determination and heroism of the Filipino people in fighting and eventually overthrowing the Marcos fascist dictatorship, and commends the international solidarity of the peoples of other countries with the Filipino people in their struggle for national independence and democracy.

Even before Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972, revolutionary forces in the Philippines had been waging the new democratic revolution through people´s war against the US-directed Marcos regime. Revolutionary armed struggle was integrated with agrarian reform and rural mass base building. Organs of political power were established on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance and the mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, children and cultural activists were formed.

Since the early 1960s, the legal movement of patriotic and progressive forces had developed, followed by the revolutionary armed struggle which started in 1969. The proclamation of martial rule in 1972 temporarily stymied the legal democratic movement, but radically strengthened the underground and the armed struggle as many of the legal forces went underground and to the countryside to wage people’s war.

Fourteen years of brute fascist dictatorship failed to crush the revolutionary forces. Instead, they grew deep roots among the masses throughout the country, and gained strength by advancing the antifascist, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal line. The Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and other revolutionary forces distinguished themselves in the struggle against the US-Marcos dictatorship even as they paid a heavy price for their victories with daily hard work, militant struggle and bitter sacrifices.

The Bangsa Moro led by the Moro National Liberation Front also waged armed struggle against the Marcos dictatorship and pinned down a large component of the reactionary armed forces in Mindanao. Thus the armed struggles of the Filipino people and Bangsamoro against a common enemy objectively helped each other, even in the absence of a formal alliance. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front arose to continue the armed struggle after the MNLF signed the Tripoli Agreement with the Manila government in 1976.

The Filipino revolutionaries sought and quickly gained international support from democratic and anti-imperialist forces all over the world. This led to the isolation of the US-Marcos regime not only in the Philippines but also internationally, amidst the growing crisis of global capitalism and that of the local semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

US imperialism supported the Marcos fascist dictatorship for so long as it remained more of an asset than a liability to US economic, political and military interests. But by 1982, the US had known that Marcos was hopelessly isolated and hated by the people for his extreme brutality and corruption; that he had become seriously ill, with the line of succession unclear and risky; and that the revolutionary movement could benefit from the tenuous situation. Thus, the US arranged for his eventual replacement by his arch-rival Aquino. The continuing advance of the armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP was a key and compelling factor for the US decision to ease Marcos out of power.

Martial Law, Never Again! Photo by Arkibong Bayan.The assassination of Aquino in 1983 upon his return to Manila triggered an anti-fascist upsurge. The armed revolutionary movement in the countryside and the legal national democratic forces in the cities played crucial roles in bringing about the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. It is clear that in the struggle against the Marcos regime from 1969 to 1986 the armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP and the legal forces of the national democratic movement were the most consistent, most important and most effective in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people.

The overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship did not result in the overthrow of the entire ruling system. The succeeding anti-national and pseudo-democratic and anti-democratic regimes have been essentially similar to the Marcos regime in terms of puppetry to US imperialism, exploitative class character, corruption and brutality against the people. The only obvious difference of these post-Marcos regimes from the Marcos fascist regime is their carrying out state terrorism without having to proclaim martial law.

The current Aquino regime unabashedly continues the implementation of the neoliberal economic policy that has intensified US imperialism’s extraction of superprofits from the blood and sweat of the Filipino toiling masses. It shamelessly lauds and collaborates with the US announced US strategic balance shift to Asia-Pacific region which is meant to tighten US hegemony over the region. The Aquino regime seeks to benefit from the increased military presence and interventionism of the US, aggravation of political and economic domination, and intensified exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people.

The ILPS joins all democratic and anti-imperialist forces in supporting the Filipino people’s continuing revolutionary struggle for national freedom and democracy. As the crisis of the world capitalist system and the ruling system worsens, the reactionaries continue to engage in a bitter struggle for power and bureaucratic loot among themselves. As the Filipino people suffer more exploitation and oppression, more poverty and misery, they are driven to intensify and advance their revolutionary struggle for national liberation, democracy, development through national industrialization and genuine land reform, social justice and world peace.

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