[In the Web] Mercado: Graveside volleys

President Ferdinand Marcos declaring Martial Law on National Television 39 years ago. Photo from negroschronicle.com.

By Juan L. Mercado


Saturday, September 17, 2011

WEDNESDAY is the 39th anniversary of martial law imposition. To save the Republic, freedoms must be curtailed, Ferdinand Marcos said. He didn’t bat an eyelash. A 14-year dictatorship followed. After People Power restored freedoms, did nationwide amnesia set in?

An exhaustive analysis is not possible. “Sidebar” is capped at 2,800 characters. Still, true accounts may offer insights, specially for readers too young to remember.

Story One: Then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile’s fake Wack-Wack ambush that triggered martial law arrests was days away. Some details of

Proclamation 1081 had leaked.

At Press Foundation of Asia, publisher Joaquin “Chino” Roces asked the Indonesian journalist and Magsaysay Awardee Mochtar Lubis: “Sukarno and Suharto arrested you and padlocked your newspaper, what is your advice for us?”

The conference room fell silent. Lubis’s reply was measured. “First, be friendly with your guards. They’re human. Second, keep busy. Third, don’t let prison embitter you.”

Among the 22 Manila-based journalists arrested in the first sweep were: Chino, of course, plus Free Press’ Teodoro Locsin and Napoleon Rama, Daily Mirror’s Amando Doronila, Evening News’ Max Soliven and Luis Beltran, Manuel Almario of PNS.

All would add to Lubis’s guidelines: “Draw up a power-of-attorney for the wife.” This can ease burdens for her.

Story Two: Near midnight, Col. Generoso Alejo told Camp Crame detainees: “All journalists please follow me. You have a visitor.” Streets were, emptied by the 10-to-4 a.m. curfew.

Our visitor” was our jailer: PC commander general Fidel V. Ramos.

“Nothing personal, gentlemen,” he said. “I was ordered to neutralize you. Please cooperate. We’ll try to make things easy for you.”

Did we cooperate-–by forgetting? Eight out of 10 students today barely recall Benigno Aquino Jr.’s kangaroo trial. Or why he was gunned down. “The Philippines became a gulag of safe houses where citizens were tortured, maimed and salvaged,” Amnesty International reported.


Read full story at http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/opinion/2011/09/17/mercado-graveside-volleys-179999


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