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Martial law, past and present

Raul Ilogon

DO you know that Martial law was declared six times in the Philippines?

The first one happened in 1896 during the end part of the Spanish regime. The Spanish colonial government declared martial law in response to the Aguinaldo-led revolution.

The second was a localized martial law on Feb. 15, 1944. The civil government of free Philippines in Mindanao declared martial law in the southern portion of Bukidnon due to Japanese offensive. Major Teljenes Velez was designated as military lieutenant-governor.

The third martial law was declared on Sept. 21, 1944 by President Jose P. Laurel of the Japanese-sponsored puppet government during World War II.

I belong to a generation who experienced martial law thrice. Yes, as in three times!

The 4th martial law was my first. It was declared by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on Sept 21, 1972. It was the bloodiest and so far the longest. It was lifted on Jan. 17, 1981 but its brutality lasted up to time President Marcos was driven to exile in Feb 25, 1986.

I have been climbing mountains and doing outdoor activities since I was 18. That is more than half my lifetime. During my time the challenge was not the mountain itself but rather in how to get there and how to get out after the climb. First, we have to make sure all stakeholders in and near the mountain is well-informed of the coming climb. Next, we have to hurdle all kinds of checkpoints by our military and the “other side”.

During the climb, we are not weary of wild animals or snakes but rather from the Cafgus and the “other side” as well. Worst of all was when we were caught in between.

We experienced being held for hours when the military thoroughly checked contents of our heavy backpacks. Not to be outdone, the “other side” detained  about 300 mountaineers against their will   during a mountaineering federation climb in Mt. Apo. I also experienced being held and interrogated for almost an hour by Cordillera Liberation Army in the Mountain Province.

The 5th martial law was my second. It was shortlived, only seven days, Dec. 7 -13, 2009. It was declared by President Gloria Arroyo in Maguindanao after so many died in the massacre, including journalists. It was lifted almost as soon as it was implemented.

Now, I’m living in my third martial law, the 6th for the Philippines. This current martial law was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 23, 2017 for the whole island of Mindanao because of the “war” in Marawi. It is supposed to end by Dec. 31, 2017 but was extended for the whole year of 2018 by Congress.

Before martial Law, criminals from Lanao del Sur operated in our city almost at will–carnapping, kidnapping, murder and shooting incidents. I might be wrong but I have not heard of any convictions from these crimes. After committing the crimes here, they took refuge in Marawi, never to be caught and convicted. Marawi is their safe haven.

Terrorists bombed our city, killing our people for no apparent reason other than to terrorize and wreck havoc in the hearts of the people.

Before martial law, anxiety ran high, fearing for another bombing that has claimed so many lives in the past. The last were innocent victims that included a provincial board member and physicians attending a convention in our city. At that time, Cagayan de Oro experienced great economic success. It was branded as the convention capital of the Philippines. But when the bomb went off, our economy took a dip.

When the “war” in Marawi broke out, the terrorists had more than enough reason to bomb and retaliate to somehow relieve them of the pressure in Marawi. But since the declaration of martial law, no terrorist activity like bombing was ever successful. Instead, several terrorists from Lanao were caught red-handed. Not only terrorists but also criminals were apprehended in military checkpoints or in their hideouts.

When martial law was declared, Marawi ceased to become a safe heaven for criminals. The suspected killer of an RTA enforcer had no choice but to come back to our city where he was immediately arrested.

But when martial law was declared, our tourism industry like hotel and restaurant, tours and outdoor activities like whitewater rafting took a beating. Tours, hotels and whitewater rafting bookings were cancelled. The tourism industry was greatly affected by martial law.

But experience has taught us that every time a bomb goes off, the affected are not just tourism industry players. Our city, our economy, as a whole, always take a dive.

Tourist arrivals has dropped because of martial law. But because of martial law, terrorism and criminal cases have dropped as well.

Pili lang mo.

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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