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Never Again, Never Forget!

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Never Again, Never Forget!

Migrante Canada Statement On the 51st Anniversary of Martial Law September 21, 2023

Migrante Canada joins the Filipino people in and outside of the Philippines in marking the 51st anniversary of martial law. The anniversary calls tell us why: Never Forget. Never Again. We honour those who died, the missing, the survivors, and the families they have left behind. In honouring, we remember their courage and resistance. We also name the enemy, so we never have to go through it again.

Fifty-one years ago, with Proclamation 1081, Dictator Marcos placed the whole country under martial law. He strangled democracy, took away our civil liberties and freedoms, imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands. He shut down the newspapers and magazines, TV, and radio stations. No more Congress and the Judiciary, he simply usurped their powers. He took over all the businesses and industries he wanted because he could, and he wanted to. He ordered his minions, the military, and the entire state apparatus to be his fascist boots on the ground. Stripped of their moral compasses, the dictator’s uniformed beasts and birds of prey were let loose in the cities, countryside, mountains, villages, factories, convents, schools, and everywhere to fill their thirst and hunger for blood and flesh, but they were never satiated because the dictator wanted more. Marcos Sr. was President for 20 years, from 1965 to 1986, ruled as a dictator from 1972 to 1986 (the “lifting” of martial law in 1981 was cosmetic because he kept his martial law powers) until an angry people kicked him and his family out of the Palace in 1986. Amnesty International estimated that about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed during martial law. Missing estimated to be 398. Those were only the documented ones.

Overseas Filipinos were not spared from the long arm of the dictatorship. Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo, labour activists who were also part of the US-based opposition against dictator Marcos, were assassinated in Seattle in 1981. The US Federal Court held the dictator Marcos, Sr. and his hired guns legally accountable for the murder of Viernes and Domingo, the only time a foreign head of state has been held responsible for the deaths of Americans on American soil.

Fifty-one years later, the dictator’s son sits in Malacañang, and martial law seems to have not left.

 Marcos Sr. wielded Martial law then. Marcos Jr. does not need to declare martial law; he has the Anti-Terrorism Law, and he wields it in just the same way. He enjoys the support of Congress and the Judiciary. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC, he has given his marching orders to “Sustain the whole-of-nation approach to peace and development to prevent Communist terrorists, their front organizations, and other lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping, and regaining power.” It means that with a little more than a year in office, Marcos Jr has declared an all-out war against the people, a war with all the hallmarks of martial law. These include the extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, the bombings of indigenous communities, filing of false charges against activists and people’s organizations, arrests and detention, the incessant red tagging, the freezing of assets, the “drug war” killings, and constant attacks against media and critics.

With the NTF-ELCAC, Marcos Jr has released his own vicious, vile, bloodthirsty suckers and predators, his trolls, his mercenaries in media, and his online social media hacks against the people. Eager for prey, the NTF-ELCAC has extended its work to red tagging overseas Filipinos, including migrant organizers and migrant justice advocates, and posting military attaches in the consular and embassies abroad. The dark and murderous times are back.

As we raise the calls to Never Forget, Never Again, Migrante Canada remembers not only the victims of martial law, but also the victims of those killed and gone missing in all the regimes that succeeded the dictator Marcos, including those under the regime of Marcos Jr.

Migrante Canada remains vigilant and will continue to resist repression and to demand justice for the many victims from Marcos Sr. to Marcos Jr.

Now is the time more than ever to amplify our voices, march boldly on the streets, raise our banners and placards, light the candles to honour those who died and are missing, remember those who continue to be behind bars, to tell their stories, and to strike fear into the hearts of those who want to silence us. We call on our members and overseas Filipinos to join the events to mark the 51st anniversary of Martial law in your cities. #NeverAgain