On martial law anniversary, ATOM exhorts Filipinos to face challenges of the times

Marcos Declares Martial Law
“FM Declares Martial Law”—the headline of the September 24, 1972, issue of the Sunday Express, which was the Sunday edition of Philippines Daily Express. The Daily Express was the only newspaper allowed to circulate upon the declaration of Martial Law.

THE August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM), one of the spearheads of anti-dictatorship protests in the last few years of the Marcos regime, on Sunday issued a statement ahead of the 48th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

ATOM’s statement, with signatories that included some of the broad coalition’s original leaders, called for vigilance against an apparent drift against democracy, even as it called for a national sense of purpose among Filipinos in the face of a severe economic crisis worsened by the pandemic, among other grave challenges.The statement was signed by the ATOM Executive Committee members: Nori Santos, Edith Reyes, Nikko Dayrit, Mae Lagunday, Mildred Juan, Olive Vicencio, Reli German, Mon Pedrosa and Sito Santillan.

Below, full text of that statement:

Tuesday, September 21 once again marks one of the darkest moments in our country’s history — the imposition of martial law that was inflicted upon our people 48 years ago. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos used this as a license for massive thievery and State-sanctioned imprisonment, torture and killings of those who opposed him.

But even as we commit ourselves anew to resist the possible rise of another despotic rule, this should not distract us from confronting the dreadful challenges that today threaten to rend our society apart. Foremost of these is the continuing spread of the deadly Covid 19 pandemic that, as of last week, has infected more than 269,400 people and killed over 4,600.

Another peril that we should guard against is the move of this administration to scuttle our democratic institutions and declare a revolutionary government. Purportedly, this will provide the present dispensation with the needed instrument that would serve as a powerful cure-all for our problems. The grim reality is that this is nothing but a delusive fantasy that would hurl all of us to a desolate landscape of strong-arm rule, persecution, hopelessness and despair. Thankfully, the top officials of the defense establishment, the military and the police have all opposed this inanity.

The economic crisis that resulted from the pandemic is another grave problem that requires urgent attention. The successive lockdowns imposed by the government led to the shutdown of thousands of businesses, big and small. Millions of people lost their jobs and livelihood. And it does not help that billions of pesos have been chopped off from the 2021 national budget intended for the Special Amelioration Fund (SAF) for the poor.

So how can we help alleviate the pain, suffering and misery that pervade our land? The situation is not entirely hopeless. We have heard stories of how people who lost their jobs turned to their innate skills or learned new trades to create new livelihoods. Kind-hearted entrepreneurs resisted the urge to lay off employees even if they had to absorb some losses in their business. Some recipients of government aid even shared with others in need what little they got as assistance.

Madiskarte tayong mga Pilipino. Maawain at matulungin ang pusong Pinoy. Magiging isa sa mga susi ang mga katangiang ito upang matawid natin ang landas tungo sa isang mas matatag at mas maaliwalas na bukas.

Complementary to this, we must also unite and cooperate with each other to attain a common goal. And that is to bring our country back to as normal a situation as possible before Covid 19.

This means that whenever the situation and circumstances call for it, let us set aside the differences and disagreements that promote division and disunity. We should instead fuse our energies to bring life to our economy, reduce unemployment and more effectively address this pandemic.

For us at ATOM, we pledge to contribute to this goal, in the least by observing the protocols intended to arrest the advance of this deadly virus. This we aim to do within our families, our circle of friends, business associates and the communities we live in. We shall extend that help whenever there is the need and the opportunity to do so.

Tuloy pa rin ang laban ni Ninoy!

Image credits: Philippines Daily Express


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