The Socio-Political Apostolate of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, "Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan," issued a statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law in the country.
September 21, 2022, marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, by Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., former president of the Philippines. It was in effect from 1972 to 1981.
During Martial Law, freedom of expression was restricted. Several human rights violations occurred.
Over 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed during this time period. Several political prisoners, also known as "desaparecidos," have yet to be found, reports According to Amnesty International.
Human rights activists say those who survived and witnessed the rigors of martial law during the 14-year period should never forget, but rather learn from their experiences.
The Socio-Political Apostolate of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, together with the Loyola House of Studies, Social Action and Political Involvement, and the Loyola School of Theology Student Committee on Social Involvement, Advocacy and Outreach, held a series of programs to mark the 50 years of Martial Law, including "Photo and Book Exhibit and #NeverAgain: The Stories of Martial Law Survivors."
The organizations presented two activities that exposed the dark ages of Martial Law under Marcos, Sr.
Here is the Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law issued by Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan or The Socio-Political Apostolate of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines.
On September 21, 1972, then-President and soon-to-be dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. declared Martial Law in the Philippines. Thus began thirteen years of authoritarian rule, characterized by grave abuses of power, unimaginable excesses, extra-judicial killings, rampant violation of human rights, and the plunder of the country's coffers by Marcos Sr. and many of his relatives, subordinates, and close associates.
Fifty years later, together with other Church groups, civic-oriented movements, and millions of other Filipinos, the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA) and Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) invite the country to collectively remember the truths about this dark period in our history.
Every commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law has become a reminder and an invitation for us to remain steadfast in our commitment to truth and justice. There is no denying that the present
reality that confronts us challenges our fidelity to shared democratic ideals and actively alters our collective memory. Indeed, our recent experience tells us that we have a lot to learn and unlearn as much as to do to give justice to the sacrifices made by our freedom-loving fellowmen.
We stand in solidarity with those who experienced the atrocities of Martial Law and became victims of violence and unnecessary suffering. We remember this day especially for them and their families so that their truths and sacrifices will not be forgotten and that their struggles and pains will not just be buried without any resolution or healing. We continue to call for genuine accountability from the perpetrators of Martial Law's evils and demand that the victims get the justice they deserve.
We also remember September 21 for the Filipinos who courageously struggled against the authoritarian regime in pursuit of democracy, justice, peace, and a better life for all. We honor them as they remind us of the ideals we must continue to strive for as we move forward in pursuit of the common good and the integral development of every Filipino.
Amidst calls to "move on," we insist on the necessity of memorializing and remembering so that the facts and truths concerning the dictatorship and Martial Law are not muddled by post-truth narratives that rob our people. When we collectively forget and distort the truth of our history, we also begin to lose part of our identity as a people. We cannot allow truth to be buried under webs of lies. Historical revisionism must be rejected; impunity and deceit must not triumph. We will never sacrifice the truth for sham stability and unity.
We pray that, as we collectively remember September 21, 1972, we may be moved by the Holy Spirit to personally and collectively call for accountability and justice from the perpetrators of the atrocities of Martial Law. Only when reparations and justice are served can we take real steps towards healing as a country. We will never forget.
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