Profiles of Courage

Luis R. Mauricio

Journalists, news reporters, and columnists are always in a precarious position. They are always asked to report on the truth. However, the truth does not exist in a vacuum. The truth can be uncomfortable to those who hear it; it may be deleterious to certain people; and its most volatile, it may even threaten the status quo in society. They must report on it nonetheless, no matter who they may end up antagonizing.

For President Ferdinand Marcos in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, these were all applicable. Amid reports of increased state violence, widespread unrest, and socioeconomic injustices, news reaching the ears of the people would all but destroy the strongman’s image. Every move the government made, the people read about it in the newspapers, heard it on the radio and saw it on television.

As such, journalists and other media men of the pre-Martial Law era often clashed with the Marcos administration, as they were always the first to report on alleged malversation, corruption and other government fiascos. One bizarre scandal in particular rocked the Philippines in 1970. An affair between Marcos and American actress Dovie Beams hit the press, supplemented with recorded lascivious conversations caught on tape. One of the major news outlet covering this was the Kislap-Graphic Magazine, headed by Luis R. Mauricio, delivering the story in detailed fashion.[1] Mauricio had previously practiced law but was involved with journalism during the time of Marcos, becoming one of the latter’s most unrelenting critics. With his and his government’s reputation being tarnished by these reports, Marcos knew something needed to be done. Even with rumors of Marcos looking to perpetuate his power, journalists continued reporting all the same up until the fateful evening of September 22, 1972.[2]

Unbeknownst to many, Marcos had already been crafting a master plan to place the country under martial rule, under the claim of taking control in countering the flourishing Communist insurgency movement. Whispers of the possibility of the country being placed under Martial Law only grew louder as the clock ticked closer to the zero-hour. As Aquino delivered to the public a leaked document known as “Oplan Sagittarius,” hours later, a supposed assassination attempt on Enrile provided Marcos with enough pretext to put his plan into action.[3] Marcos knew where to strike. Upon declaration of Martial Law, he ordered the arrest of thousands. Critics, opposition leaders, political rivals, and of course, the people who had long antagonized him, the journalists, news reporters and columnists.[4]

Among those journalists arrested almost immediately afterwards were Teodoro Locsin Sr. and Napoleon Rama from the Philippines Free Press; Roberto Ordonez from the Philippines Herald; Rolando Fadul from Taliba; Max Soliven and Chino Roces from the Manila Times; Amando Doronila from the Daily Mirror; and, of course, Luis Mauricio from the Graphic.[5] Mauricio was forcibly dragged out of his home in the dead of the night and found himself with the likes of the previously mentioned Locsin, Soliven, Roces, and Doronila, and in front of the chief of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), Fidel V. Ramos, who implored them to cooperate and make things easier.[6] They were all included in the “National List Of Target Personalities” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Though they were from different news stations and outlets with varying temperament and predilection when doing their jobs, they all shared a common thread of being critical of the Marcos administration. It was seen as payback against them and their writings, which were branded malicious and slanderous.[7]

Marcos did not stop there. Alleging that errant newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities were all being used for propaganda by forces actively trying to usurp power, Marcos ordered for said facilities to be shuttered, seized and turned over to the government.[[8]] In the days following the declaration, the only remaining source of news was the Philippine Daily Express and the Kanlaon Broadcasting System, both of which were owned by a Marcos crony and only delivered news favorable to the administration. Marcos effectively had a stranglehold on all information to be received by the public, and he could shape it however he saw fit.[9]

Mauricio and those who were incarcerated with him filed for a petition for the writ of habeas corpus days into their imprisonment. All their petitions were consolidated and handled by the Supreme Court, but ultimately led to nowhere as they were all eventually released either way.[10] Upon their release, however, they were left powerless, as their freedom was entailed with the proviso that they must report daily to the military and that they must not write or publish. Many of them, adamant to continue letting the public know of what was actually happening in the country, went underground and helped in the so-called mosquito press. Some of them, like Doronila, opted to leave the country, albeit temporarily. According to Luis Teodoro, Luis Mauricio, instead of staying silent and biding his time, went back into law practice.[11]

 By the 1980’s, Mauricio had also become a member of the Civil Liberties Union of the Philippines (CLU), a group formed in 1937 dedicated to protecting the Filipinos’ civil rights and freedom. Albeit keeping a low-profile, the CLU constantly challenged the Marcos administration. It published stern statements condemning the unlawful arrests during the onset of Martial Law, deplored the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, likened the US encroachment in the Philippines to that of its invasion of Grenada, and offered an economic action plan to recover the declining economy of the country. Mauricio rose to the rank of commissioner within the group and became part of its Policy Studies Group.[12]

The Marcos administration robbed the newsmen of their voice, but many of them found their own ways to deliver their message to the people. Mauricio was among the fearless journalists who did not cease in reporting the controversies of the Marcos administration. It may even be noted that he indirectly helped in the opposition movement, which actively weaponized the Dovie Beams story, on which he was among the first to report on, to stain the nigh immaculate image Marcos theretofore created for himself.[13] Even after he was targeted by the mechanisms of Martial Law to suppress the opposition, Mauricio found his own way through the CLUP to help. He continued defending not only the freedom of the press but also the Filipinos’ civil liberties. Amid nationwide media silence, Mauricio’s voice found its way to be heard by the people.

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References:

Abaya, Hernando J. The CLU Story: Fifty Years of Struggle for Civil Liberties. Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1987.

“Breaking the News: Silencing the Media Under Martial Law.” Martial Law Museum. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://martiallawmuseum.ph/magaral/breaking-the-news-silencing-the-media-under-martial-law/.

G.R. No. L-35538 (1974), accessed June 3, 2021. https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1974/sep1974/gr_l_35546_1974.html.

Marcos, Ferdinand E. “Letter of Instruction No. 1, s. 1972.” Official Gazette of the Philippines. September 22, 1972. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1972/09/22/letter-of-instruction-no-1-s-1972/.

Mijares, Primitivo. The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. 1976 Ed. Martial Law Chronicle Project. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://martiallawchroniclesproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-Conjugal-Dictatorship-of-Ferdinand-and-Imelda-Marcos.pdf.

Teodoro, Luis V. “Forgetting or Not Knowing: Media and Martial Law.” LuisTeodoro.com. October 5, 2002. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.luisteodoro.com/forgetting-or-not-knowing-media-and-martial-law/.

____________. “The Press on the eve of Martial Law: On a Learning Curve.” Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility. September 1, 2008. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://cmfr-phil.org/media-ethics-responsibility/ethics/the-press-on-the-eve-of-martial-law-on-a-learning-curve/.

[1] Primitivo Mijares, The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, 1976 Ed., Martial Law Chronicle Project, accessed June 3, 2021, 62, https://martiallawchroniclesproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-Conjugal-Dictatorship-of-Ferdinand-and-Imelda-Marcos.pdf. Dovie Beams herself recorded these tapes, supposedly for her own protection as she was receiving threats on her life. These tapes would be weaponized by the opposition as they played them over loudspeakers, shattering the larger-than-life stature and persona of the strongman Marcos.

[2] Ibid., 54-55. This was the actual date Martial Law was proclaimed. It was later backdated to September 21, widely believed to be due to Marcos’s superstition about the number ‘7,’ and arrests followed that night and early morning of September 23.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Luis V. Teodoro, “The Press on the eve of Martial Law: On a Learning Curve,” Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility, September 1, 2008, accessed June 3, 2021, https://cmfr-phil.org/media-ethics-responsibility/ethics/the-press-on-the-eve-of-martial-law-on-a-learning-curve/.

[5] Luis V. Teodoro, “Forgetting or Not Knowing: Media and Martial Law,” LuisTeodoro.com, October 5, 2002, accessed June 3, 2021, https://www.luisteodoro.com/forgetting-or-not-knowing-media-and-martial-law/; Teodoro, “The Press on the eve of Martial Law;” “Breaking the News: Silencing the Media Under Martial Law,” Martial Law Museum, accessed June 3, 2021, https://martiallawmuseum.ph/magaral/breaking-the-news-silencing-the-media-under-martial-law/. This list was compiled from the aforementioned sources.

[6] Primitivo Mijares, The Conjugal Dictatorship, 62; “Breaking the News: Silencing the Media Under Martial Law.”

[7] Teodoro, “Forgetting or Not Knowing: Media and Martial Law.”

[8] Ferdinand E. Marcos, “Letter of Instruction No. 1, s. 1972,” Official Gazette of the Philippines, September 22, 1972, accessed June 3, 2021, https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1972/09/22/letter-of-instruction-no-1-s-1972/.

[9] “Breaking the News: Silencing the Media Under Martial Law.”

[10] G.R. No. L-35538 (1974), accessed June 3, 2021, https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1974/sep1974/gr_l_35546_1974.html. In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Joaquin P. Roces, Teodoro M. Locsin, Sr., Rolando Fadul, Rosalina Galang, Go Eng Guan, Maximo V. Soliven, Renato Constantino, and Luis R. Mauricio, Petitioners,vs. The Secretary of National Defense; the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines; the Chief, Philippine Constabulary, et al., Respondents. Many insisted on waiting for the decision on their petition, but the Supreme Court decision was likewise insistent that it is moot.

[11] Teodoro, “Forgetting or Not Knowing: Media and Martial Law.”

[12] Hernando J. Abaya,. The CLU Story: Fifty Years of Struggle for Civil Liberties (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1987), 140-41, 145-47. Several members of CLUP were arrested during the first day of Martial Law. Members of this policy studies group, which had published the alternative economic agenda in 1984, also included Hernando J. Abaya, Renato Constantino, Vivencio R. Jose, and Merlin M. Magallona, among others.

[13] Protesters from the University of the Philippines reportedly often played the recorded conversations between Marcos and Beams on loop using the campus radio station, broadcasting the strongman, revered by his loyal supporters, making lewd and vulgar statements and requests.

Arado, Reynaldo

Mauricio, Luis R.

Birthday: N/A

Death: N/A

Parents: N/A

Spouse: N/A

Children: N/A

 

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