Never Again

‘Out with the old and in with the new.’

More than half a century ago, Proclamation No. 1081 officially declaring Martial Law in the entire Philippines was signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos. The declaration was said to have been prompted by various plots against his administration.

To this date, debates have become endless on whether Martial Law served the country better or worse. Marcos supporters and loyalists claim that Martial Law brought about improved peace and security in the country. Meanwhile, Marcos critics cite several cases and instances where various human rights violations and political persecution were committed. No resolution is foreseen in the near future on this issue. No fundamental change has transpired to generally improve the Filipinos’ quality of life.

History should have taught us a lesson. At many instances after 1972, there have been opportunities for us to reform our political, economic and social system.

We have been given the chance to elect five different Presidents, yet we remain dissatisfied over the impact of their leadership on our daily lives. We elected two Aquinos within the 46-year period from the time Martial Law was declared. They were given twelve years to contribute to the significant development and maturity of our social and political structures. Yet, we remain growth laggard and underdeveloped.

We were given the chance to draft our constitution in 1986, and revise them at several instances to effect critical institutional reforms to suit the challenges of our modern times. However, possibilities for constitutional change are still remote despite the President’s support for the constitution’s revision. This is due to lack of people’s support and/or interest to study the merits of the proposals for charter change.

We had 11 local elections since 1972 to put into power representatives at the city and district levels of governance. Forty-six years after, it seems that we have allowed the power of the purse to significantly overcome the power of the ballot.

Sadly, the accountability for these failed opportunities rest on our shoulders--- Filipinos.

We are ultimately the culprits for our nation's seeming underdevelopment. We have allowed the same families to concentrate the nation's resources within the confines of their comfort. We have tolerated the sins of politicians, and reinstated them into power instead of penalizing them.

Great introspection is required amongst us, Filipinos, so that we can advance (not regress) politically, socially and economically.

Martial Law was never an absolute failure, nor was it an absolute success. It is meant to teach this nation a lesson about power and governance, not an endless debate which has gone on for 46 years.

Never again, it is. Never again to Martial Law. Never again to another EDSA People Power. Never again to outmoded and antiquated gimmicks. Never again to old figures who have abused our country's resources.

Our people must refuse old and tired ways. Our nation needs new energy and vigor. Else, we will remain mired in the depths of poverty and underdevelopment.

As the popular line from a teleserye puts it…

‘Out with the old and in with the new.’

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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