Not me. Even if it was declared all over the country, not just in Mindanao.
I am not a dissident. I am not a criminal. I am not a terrorist. I am not an extremist, much less a jihadist. I am not a renegade soldier. I am not a ninja cop. I am not a drug lord. I am not a drug pusher. I am not a plunderer. Most of all, I am not a corrupt government functionary.
I do not advocate extremism and terrorism. I do not believe in communism. I do not condone foreign intervention. I do not support subversion, rebellion, invasion and secession. I do not engage in destabilization plots, much more actively promote the overthrow of duly constituted authorities.
I express myself freely but responsibly. I exercise my religion but I am tolerant of other faiths. I do not harbor or coddle persons wanted by the law. I am a law-abiding citizen of the Republic of the Philippines. So, why should I be afraid of Martial Law?
Should I allow myself to be afraid because the ghost of Ferdinand Marcos still casts a heavy pall among the victims of military rule who want the rest of the Filipino people to remember what they went through and carry their pain in our consciousness as well? Not to disrespect their suffering, but the same respect should also be accorded to those who ‘survived’ the era without a scratch, as it were. Without a dent in their physical and psychological makeup because they chose to follow the path of least resistance. Does that make them any less patriotic?
I was very young but old enough to remember the choices I had to make straight out of puberty into early adulthood. The so-called First Quarter Storm was a nebulous nomenclature to chew on while playing jack-stones with my cousins back home in the boondocks. And Martial Law was a sort of bogeyman used to keep youngsters like us from roaming the streets after midnight.
But the parish priests were real. There were two of them in our town who turned out to be rebels recruiting young people – children, essentially – to attend teach-in’s being held in some dark corners of the kumbento. Those priests were indoctrinating us not about the Word of God but of the teachings of Mao. Not about the Bible and Christianity but of the Little Red Book and Communism.
In short, I did the sensible thing and stopped after attending a couple of sessions. The priests were some kind of folk heroes to vulnerable minds and not a few were attracted to their swashbuckling ways and followed them up in the mountains. The president of my school’s student council famously disappeared into the forests, never to be seen again.
The point being, it was their choice. To go underground. To be called subversives. To practice an ideology contrary to what was, and is, enshrined in the law of the land. Whether they were in too deep or were just germinating didn’t matter. Red became the color of their existence. And they were the reason for Martial Law.
There were abuses, of course, which are well-documented. But there were also benign cases. Those caught jaywalking – yes, jaywalking – were brought to Camp Crame and made to cut grass. And some women detainees I knew said their months-long stay at the stockades were uneventful.
Be that as it may, the Marcos era Martial Law was a decidedly different animal than the one that is written in the Cory Constitution – with enough safeguards put in place, the framers say, to prevent the advent of another dictatorship. Besides, the Armed Forces of the Philippines today is different from the Armed Forces of Ramos and Ver. They are now mostly professional soldiers, whose sole purpose is to defend and protect the Republic from enemies both within and outside.
Thus, why all the ruckus about human rights violations, cruelties and violence that MIGHT happen? Is President Duterte’s Martial Law not acceptable because the Americans are not behind it? That no American senator speaking in behalf of the American president will tell their much-hated non-puppet that “The time has come, you should cut and cut cleanly”?
Unlike the 70’s when it was literally ‘dark’ as far as the reporting of atrocities and abuses by the military are concerned, today the same will be told in ‘real time’ and living color by the vociferous social media – fake news or alternative facts notwithstanding. Isn’t this the era of (too much) information? When even the most innocuous things like “makeup transformations” go “viral” in the Internet and people with lots of spare time in their hands announce to the world wide web what they are eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Terrorism is the scourge of modern times. It has inched slowly to our shores whether we accept the fact or not. They are the enemy, and they wear black. Evil, ominous, menacing, without mercy. You don’t know when it will stare you in the face. And if it does, would the oligarchs and elitists and their minions who have been living off the fat of our land and the blood of our people as much as offer an arm to defend you?
Not in a million years. But I will sleep soundly at night knowing that the soldiers of our Republic will be out there in the war zone – in a heartbeat, because theirs is not to question why – putting their own lives on the line, in the service of God and country. Would anybody else do that for you in this horrifying time?
So, yes, Martial Law. Bring it on.