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WHY MARCOS DECLARED MARTIAL LAW

September 14, 2012

September 21.  On that day, forty years ago this month,  in 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law,  an event that to this day never fails to generate passionate recriminations and abrasive discourses.

Why did he declare Martial Law?  To the anti-Marcos elements, it was due to his immense greed for power and wealth.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I wish to contribute my little understanding of this part of our recent history, distilled from innumerable readings of the subject matter over the years.

Marcos declared Martial Law because of Ninoy Aquino.

Ninoy Aquino was the new political superstar of the time.  In all likelihood, he was going to be the next President.  But Ninoy was perceived rightly or wrongly as a communist, or at least sympathetic to the communist movement that was leading the social unrest threatening to engulf the country.

The constitutional option for Marcos had run out.  The explosive bribing scandal that exposed his attempts to influence the delegates to the  Constitutional Convention of 1972  to allow him to run again killed that alternative.

It was at the height of the communist movement’s popularity.  For a society beset by severe social inequity and grinding poverty like the Philippines, communism certainly provided a stark alternative, with its own powerful mass appeal, to challenge the unjust status quo.    In fact, Southeast Asia then, in particular Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, ( as in Korea), was fast being run over by the Communists,  due to the huge support of the people.

The US, the world leader of the anti-communist bloc, was understandably distraught.  The prospect of a Ninoy Aquino presidency in one of its closest ally-nations was an added worry.   So Washington must have cajoled Marcos to stay on as did other leaders, especially the leaders of the Church, who were fearful of the communists, assuring him of their support.   Marcos must have also estimated that if he stepped down indeed, Washington would instigate a coup instead and install a military junta if only to forestall the inevitable, that of a Ninoy presidency.  Indeed, if his military background be any guide, Marcos himself must have shared the same apprehensions.

So  why not Martial Law, the one last option left?  He had nothing to lose.  In fact, great opportunities beckoned.

Randy David:  MARCOS AND MARTIAL LAW

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2012 7:20 am

    Well considering that Marcos was sufficiently prescient to see the inevitable wave of Communism in his time, the main reason he wanted to impose Martial Law in all likelihood was the rise of Maoist intellectuals. At the forefront of which was Joma’s revitalized CPP. THe journalist LuisTeodoro also supports this claim.

    • September 14, 2012 7:56 am

      Ninoy Aquino was in a nutshell saying, do not fear the idea. Communism is not going to win in the market of ideas and communists are not going to win elections. The masses are simply riding on the current wave due to social discontent with the status quo. Why do you even shoot them? Let them be!

      Marcos feared not the idea but the armed component that came with the idea.

  2. September 17, 2012 9:02 am

    if we are to believe primitivo mijares in his book the conjugal dictatorship, marcos had long dreamed it, even back in his college days as a law student. but yes there is too the theory that it was much later, to frustrate ninoy once he became senator who had a moist eye on the presidency, and to get back at the old rich who were snubbing him and imelda even when he was already president and richer than most. parang the communist threat was just a convenient excuse, knowing as he did how praning the americans were about the left and the threat to the u.s. bases.

  3. September 21, 2012 5:43 am

    Thanks for the link Ms. Angela…

    In related manner, history buffs who have time and access to the newly declassified Martial Law documents now in the custody of the Human Rights Commission should waste no time perusing this wealth of materials for more research.

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