Many years ago, we were shocked. We cried out in grief. Our civil liberties are trampled upon. And yet, we stood firm together to fight for justice.
On August 21, 1983, thirty nine years ago, the Filipino people witnessed the Marcoses focus on their own interests — they were hellbent on staying in power. Even as the whole world watched over Ninoy Aquino on his way back to the Philippines from the US, he was mercilessly assassinated at the airport by a gunman who was promptly killed off by state forces.
On August 21, 1971, fifty one years ago, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and numerous individuals were arrested and detained. The suspension of the writ came in the string of events, in the context of the plan hatched by the dictator and his cabal of military generals that eventually led to the imposition of martial law.
Recalling August 21 brings back memories of the impunity by which Marcos Sr. held government power in his hands. Marcos disposed of his political opponents while he and his family plundered the nation’s treasury, brokered deals favorable to him and his cronies, and drowned the nation under gigantic foreign debts that would take several generations to pay for.
During that time, the events of August 21 stood as a reminder and a beacon of light, shining over a nation fed up with the autocratic and despotic Marcos rule. The Filipino people saw that a corruption-laden government whose economic and political excesses were in plain sight, while the majority of the Filipino population wallowed in poverty and crisis, did not deserve to be allowed to continue staying in power. Calls for justice and an end to the dictatorship rose louder and louder. Those from the opposition banded together and expressed their indignation and protested against the dictatorship.
Today, what CARMMA recalls is not just the Marcos excesses and dictatorial rule.
CARMMA especially remembers when we as a people raised our fists and marched forward with banners demanding “Justice of Aquino, Justice for All!” We remember when wave after wave of rallies and mobilizations calling for justice were repeatedly seen, not only in Metro Manila, but also in key cities all over the country. It was a movement that culminated with the People Power Uprising that kicked out the Marcoses from Malacanang, ending the dictator’s hold on power in 1986.
Decades after August 21, 1983, we remember that the struggle for justice is not over. With the Marcoses back in power, CARMMA continues the decades-long call — “Justice for Aquino, Justice for all!” — that remains relevant to this day.
We can never forget. Tuloy ang laban.