Thursday, September 20, 2018

Testimony of the priest who lived during Martial Law: I was honestly captivated by the acuteness of Marcos' thinking



The late Ferdinand Marcos and : Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, photo from Facebook. 
As the anniversary of the Martial Law takes place since its inception on the 21st of September back in 1972, the testimonies of the people — who lived during that time — are again all over the place.

The late former President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. announced and implemented the nationwide takeover of the military government in the country two days after he signed it, September 23, 1972.


While others call it the dark chapter in the Philippine history, Marcos regime was also coined as the golden age of the Philippine economy.

The said event  had been controversial due to the series of alleged injustice and human rights violation done during the administration of the strongman from the North.

With some still in anguish due to their claim of being denied of their rights during the late strongman's era, there are also people whose testimonies are extremely positive as opposed to what is usually fed by the mainstream media.

One of those is a priest who witnessed the Martial Law with his own two eyes: Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino. 

Entitled as 'LIVING THROUGH MARTIAL LAW...My testimony', Fr. Aquino narrated how life was like during the time of Pres. Marcos.

Far from what people most of the time say that such era made the country chaotic by the person they labelled as a 'dictator', Fr. Aquino's walk down the memory lane contradicts what the history books tell us.

"I was in fourth year high school the day we woke up, on September 23, went to school, and were told that there was no school. My father drove me and Jet through town, and there was an eerie quiet. There were soldiers at radio stations, and there was no broadcast, except a brief announcement that we were to tune in at 6 that night.", the priest started.

According to Fr. Aquino, long before the realization of Martial Law, days before it were 'sheer chaos'.

"But the days before were sheer chaos: There were demonstrations and rallies almost every day. The thoroughfares were impassable because activists wanted the streets to themselves.", he said.

"Earlier we were told of UP students who had occupied the university for some time, until they were driven off by the elements of the military.", the Martial Law witness added.

Sharing how it all began, he wrote, "Through the blurry black and white monitor came Marcos' image and a stern voice that announced that as of September 21, he had placed the entire country under Martial Law".

"Curfew was announced, and all were warned that carrying firearms was punishable by death.", Fr. Aquino continued as he recalled a part of his past.

With Marcos still practicing the rule of law, the priest mentioned, "He however assured the nation that the courts would continue to administer justice, although by then he had had the leaders of the opposition arrested".

More than being a disciplinarian, Fr. Aquino also stated how the late President wanted his countrymen to look presentable.

"The day after, there were soldiers stationed at Bonifacio Street, Tuguegarao's "calle de comercio" and any man who sported long hair was immediately given a free, rather rough hair trim.", he said.

Reminiscing how peaceful those days had been, Fr. Aquino said, "Many heaved a sigh of relief. There was order. The streets of Manila were free of the noisy and raucous hordes. There was no fear about walking about in the evening because everyone knew that misbehaviour could have dire consequences".

The Catholic priest also recalled that despite allegations after allegations against the then-government, there was 'no general scare', as far as he can remember.

"We did not hear of EJKs. In fact, the term did not even exist then. There were allegations of torture and disappearances, but there was really no general scare, as far as I recall.", he narrated.

Sharply remembers how the Ilocano President played fair versus the opposition, Fr. Aquino elaborated how the former President would invite into a debate duel those who opposed his decision to implement his constitution-based ruling.

"Marcos repeatedly challenged those who opposed Martial Law to public debates. None engaged him. I still remember clearly that the leaders of the opposition at that time were invited as a group to debate with Marcos, but the seats remained empty. My father, ever the wise man, explained that it was not because they feared the debate but because they did not want Marcos to appear like some invincible hero. There was, indeed, the possibility that he could best them all!", said Fr. Aquino.

The priest then mentioned how he was amazed by Pres. Marcos' thinking that led to the military-dominated government.

"When I went to college seminary, one year after martial law was declared, I read "Today's Revolution: Democracy" for the first time, and I was honestly captivated by the acuteness of Marcos' thinking. I admired the fact that he offered a theoretical framework for Martial Law -- I continue to admire that. Whatever else might have been his motives, that will not negative the fact that his book(s) provided one with sense that he knew what he was doing, and that he was set on getting some things done", he recounted.

He also wrote his opinion anent the judges at that time who decided in Marcos' favor, saying they were brilliant.

"Was martial law good or bad? I lived through martial law. Like most things in life that one remembers, it is an ambivalent era of our history. The Supreme Court upheld it, and I am not prepared to say that all the justices then were cowards. If anything at all, they were brilliant. But there were dark, perhaps blood-stained patches as well.", said the priest.

He concluded his post saying that he will not be of support to the "never again" movement as he believes that "Martial law is always a power the President may exercise -- and should exercise -- when the survival of the Republic depends on its judicious imposition and wise management".
Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, photo from Bombo Radyo
Read the complete Facebook post of Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino below:

LIVING THROUGH MARTIAL LAW...My testimony

I was in fourth year high school the day we woke up, on September 23, went to school, and were told that there was no school. My father drove me and Jet through town, and there was an eerie quiet. There were soldiers at radio stations, and there was no broadcast, except a brief announcement that we were to tune in at 6 that night.

But the days before were sheer chaos: There were demonstrations and rallies almost every day. The thoroughfares were impassable because activists wanted the streets to themselves. Earlier we were told of UP students who had occupied the university for some time, until they were driven off by the elements of the military.


At 6 that evening, we tuned in the TV at home, at Mercedes Village. There was TV but no cable service, which meant that my grandfather had to construct such a high antenna that installing it alone caused him to scrape his knee very badly. Through the blurry black and white monitor came Marcos' image and a stern voice that announced that as of September 21, he had placed the entire country under Martial Law. Curfew was announced, and all were warned that carrying firearms was punishable by death. He however assured the nation that the courts would continue to administer justice, although by then he had had the leaders of the opposition arrested.

The day after, there were soldiers stationed at Bonifacio Street, Tuguegarao's "calle de comercio" and any man who sported long hair was immediately given a free, rather rough hair trim.

Many heaved a sigh of relief. There was order. The streets of Manila were free of the noisy and raucous hordes. There was no fear about walking about in the evening because everyone knew that misbehaviour could have dire consequences.

Soon, we were told that officials of civil government had to coordinate with their military counterparts. In fact, since I was a Boy Scout leader at that time, I had to haggle, plead with the Philippine Constabulary for permission for encampment or jamboree. And anyone who took the overnight trip to Manila by land knew that at midnight, the bus had to park somewhere and wait for 4 am when curfew was lifted.

I think that things started to go wrong when the military habituated itself with calling the shots. We did not hear of EJKs. In fact, the term did not even exist then. There were allegations of torture and disappearances, but there was really no general scare, as far as I recall. But people knew there was so much that they could not do. "Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, bisikleta ang kailangan" said Ariel Ureta, trying to be humorous. And after his program -- so we were told -- elements of the military picked him up, and gave him a bicycle to fulfil his wish at Camp Crame.

True, the chambers of Congress were silent -- but that also meant that what the President wanted to be done did not have to go through the rigmarole of political horse-trading. For the first year or so, I think that the general sense was that martial law was a welcome respite from the uncertainty, the mayhem and the increasing aggressiveness of the Communist Party.

Marcos repeatedly challenged those who opposed Martial Law to public debates. None engaged him. I still remember clearly that the leaders of the opposition at that time were invited as a group to debate with Marcos, but the seats remained empty. My father, ever the wise man, explained that it was not because they feared the debate but because they did not want Marcos to appear like some invincible hero. There was, indeed, the possibility that he could best them all!

But Martial Law was a case of something welcome that overstayed its welcome. Military commissions dispensed judgement fast -- not necessarily justice. In this respect, it is true that justice hurried is justice buried!

When I went to college seminary, one year after martial law was declared, I read "Today's Revolution: Democracy" for the first time, and I was honestly captivated by the acuteness of Marcos' thinking. I admired the fact that he offered a theoretical framework for Martial Law -- I continue to admire that. Whatever else might have been his motives, that will not negative the fact that his book(s) provided one with sense that he knew what he was doing, and that he was set on getting some things done.

Was martial law good or bad? I lived through martial law. Like most things in life that one remembers, it is an ambivalent era of our history. The Supreme Court upheld it, and I am not prepared to say that all the justices then were cowards. If anything at all, they were brilliant. But there were dark, perhaps blood-stained patches as well.

I will not join the "never again" movement, because that is not what our Constitution ordains. Martial law is always a power the President may exercise -- and should exercise -- when the survival of the Republic depends on its judicious imposition and wise management.
The late Senator Ninoy Aquino and Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, vintage photo 
Source: Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino's Facebook

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