MARTIAL LAW @ 50

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.

On September 21, 1972, late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1081, effectively declaring Martial Law in the Philippines. He later addressed the nation on air that he had placed the country under military rule on the eve of September 23.

Marcos cited the growing communist threat, several bombing incidents, chaos and lawlessness, and the alleged attempted assassination of then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile as a pretext for imposing Martial Law.

Martial Law lasted for nine years, officially ending on January 17, 1981. However, Marcos had maintained decree-making powers beyond this period. Throughout his administration, a record number of crimes under international law and grave human rights violations were committed.

According to Amnesty International, the Marcos dictatorship was marked by 3,257 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 forced disappearances, and 70,000 incarcerations. Those persecuted included church workers, human rights defenders, legal aid lawyers, labor leaders, journalists, teachers, and students.

Sources: Amnesty International; Martial Law Museum; Official Gazette