7 Common Myths, Lies, and Misperceptions About Martial Law Debunked

Many Martial Law era Myths are still circulating on social media and even in our very Senate.

As the country faces the Corona Virus pandemic, our lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives try to come up with ways to alleviate the economic condition of those whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic.

The encounter between Sen. Marcos and Sec. Dominguez is yet another episode of catching the lies of the Marcoses red-handed.

Thanks to the vast collection of official data and figures available on the internet, a quick Google search could easily disprove one of these lies. Unfortunately, social media is filled with so much of the Marcoses’ lies and propaganda, many of which are being tried to be passed off as truth.

Our team has then compiled a list of some of the most common myths and lies about Martial Law that have been debunked.

1

Myth: There was peace and order because of Martial Law

Reality: Martial Law increased lawlessness and violence

In social media, Martial Law was supposedly declared due to the rising lawlessness, the Communist rebellion, and the increasing violence in Mindanao. The declaration of Martial Law then brought peace and order. The military patrolled the streets, curfew was implemented, and everyone felt safer.

However, the opposite was true. Lawlessness, the Communist insurgency, and violence in Mindanao all increased rapidly during Martial Law. The police and the military were especially violent to those they apprehended. The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines documents cases of those who were apprehended were not only killed, but beheaded as well.

2 Myth: The Marcos children were too young to have known of the horrors of Martial Law
Reality: They were active participants to their parents’ regime

After their removal from Malacanang in 1986, the Marcoses have been actively seeking a return to the Palace. They have been doing all that they can to highlight their father’s legacy, and distance themselves from the horrors of Martial Law. Imee Marcos has said that she was “too young” to remember what happened during Martial Law. Even the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said in a speech that Imee and Bongbong had no involvement during the Martial Law years. However, both Imee and Bongbong reached adulthood during the Martial Law years, and were active participants in the regime. Bongbong was the Vice-Governor of Ilocos Norte before his father was ousted. Imee was made Chairman of the Kabataang Barangay in 1975. Aside from that, she was convicted in the U.S. for the murder of the activist, Archimedes Trajano.

3 Myth: Martial Law was a golden age for the economy
Reality: The economy slumped during the Martial Law years

Many look back to the Martial Law years as a golden age not only because of the supposed peace and security, but also because of the economic growth during that time. However, this is half-true and only shows a part of a larger picture. The Philippine economy indeed expanded during the first few years of Martial Law. This was after it slowed down during Marcos’ second term in office. Unfortunately, crisis hit the international scene in the late 1970s with the crisis in oil and the lowering of sugar prices. The economy took a turn for the worse after Sen. Aquino’s assassination, and even reached the point of contraction. This was the only time in Philippine history where the economy contracted.

4

Myth: The Martial Law years were prosperous because of the infrastructure built
Reality: Poverty became ever-more widespread during the Martial Law Years

The Martial Law years saw a boom in construction. Many great edifices were built, such as the Heart Center, Lung Center, Philippine International Convention Center, San Juanico Bridge, and the Coconut Palace to name a few. Marcos was also credited to have the most infrastructure built during his term, more than any other President. The sad reality was that Marcos used these infrastructure projects to gain kickbacks and enrich himself. Infrastructure projects were overpriced, and massive loans were taken to pay for them. Unfortunately, the payment of these projects were passed on to the nation’s citizens. Poverty became even more rampant. To make matters worse, parts of the country experienced famines. Pictures of malnourished children made waves in the international press.

5

Myth: Martial Law saw innovations in agriculture, mining, and lumber industries…
Reality: …at the expense of the degradation of the environment

One of the reasons why there was economic growth during the early years of Martial Law was because of the innovations in sectors such as agriculture, mining, and lumber. Using his vast powers, Marcos awarded government contracts to his cronies. Pre-Martial Law environmental policies were changed by Marcos. And as a result, the country was estimated to have lost 7 million hectares of forest cover during the Marcos years.

6

Myth: The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant would have solved our nation’s energy crisis
Reality: The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant would have posed a great environmental threat if made operational

One of the greatest infrastructure projects of the Marcos years was the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). Construction of the plant cost about $2.2 billion, which ballooned from the initially proposed $500 million. As such, construction of the plant was surrounded with controversy over graft and corruption. Until today, the plant remains a white elephant, as it has never been used to generate power. There have been posts on social media claiming that the BNPP would have made access to electricity cheaper. However, they overlook the reasons as to why the plant was non-operational in the first place. Aside from the issue of graft and corruption, there is also the environmental issue. The government became skeptical to operate the plant with the disasters of the Three Mile Island Power Plant and the Chernobyl Power Plant. Its location also poses a problem, as it is in an earthquake zone and in close proximity to Mount Pinatubo.

7

Myth: The Marcoses were never convicted in court for their crimes
Reality: There have been landmark cases proving their corruption

During Bongbong’s run for the Vice Presidency in 2016, one of the main arguments of the apologists was that the Marcoses have never been convicted in court. That in fact, they have been acquitted numerous times by the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court. However, the Marcoses have already lost a number of cases in court. These include the Hawaii class suit for human rights victims of Martial Law, the forfeiture of Swiss funds and assets, as well as the role of Imee Marcos in the murder of Archimedes Trajano. In addition, Imelda Marcos was convicted by the Sandiganbayan in November 2018 for 7 counts of graft. However, she has still to face jail time.