His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
[Delivered in Malacañang, September 23, 1972]
First Address to the Nation
under Martial Law
MY COUNTRYMEN, AS of the 21st of this month, I signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under martial law. This proclamation was to be implemented upon my clearance and clearance was granted 9 o’clock in the evening of the 22nd, last night.
I have proclaimed martial law in accordance with the powers vested in the President by the Constitution of the Philippines. The proclamation of martial law is not a military takeover. I, as your duly elected President of the Republic use this power which may be implemented by the military authorities but still is a power embodied in the Constitution to protect the Republic of the Philippines and our democracy. A republican, a democratic form of government is not helpless government. When it is imperilled by the danger of violent overthrow, an insurrection or a rebellion, it has inherent and built-in powers wisely provided for under the Constitution.
Such a danger confronts the Republic of the Philippines. Article 7, Section 10, paragraph 2 of the Constitution provides and I quote:
“The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of all Armed Forces of Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection of rebellion. In case of invasion, insurrection or rebellion or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under law.”
I repeat: This is not a military takeover of civilian government functions. The government of the Republic of the Philippines, which was established by our people in 1946, continues. The officials and employees of our national and local governments continue in office and must discharge their duties as before within the limits of the situation. This will be clarified by the subsequent orders which shall be given wide publicity.
Thus, I also issued General Order No. 3 wherein I directed that in view of the proclamation of martial law, which proclamation and other orders incidentally will be read after this broadcast by the Press Secretary, in view of such a proclamation and in order to make more effective the implementation of such a proclamation without unduly affecting the operations of the government and in order to end the present national emergency within the shortest possible time, I have ordered that all executive departments, bureaus, offices, agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, government-owned or controlled corporations, as well as all governments of all the provinces, the cities, the municipalities and barrios throughout the land shall continue to function under the present officers and employees and in accordance with existing laws until otherwise ordered by me or by my duly designated representative.
I further read and I quote:
“I do hereby further order that the judiciary shall continue to function in accordance with its present organization and personnel and shall try and decide in accordance with existing laws all criminal and civil cases except the following cases:
“1. Those involving the validity, legality or constitutionality of any decree, order or act issued, promulgated or performed by my duly designated representative pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21,1972.
“2. Those involving the validity, legality or constitutionality of any rule, order or act issued, promulgated or performed by public servants pursuant to decrees, orders, rules and regulations issued and promulgated by me or by my duly designated representative pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972.
“3. Those involving crimes against national security and the law of nations.
“4. Those involving crimes against the fundamental laws of the state.
“5. Those involving crimes against public order.
“6. Those crimes involving usurpation of authority, rank, title and improper use of names, uniforms and insignias.
“7. Those involving crimes committed by public officers.”
In addition to these, I would like to announce that all schools will, in the meantime, be closed. They will be closed for one week beginning this coming Monday. This means all schools at all levels.
I have also issued General Orders for the government in the meantime to control media and other means of dissemination of information as well as all public utilities. And I asked the international and domestic communications, corporations and carriers to desist from transmitting any messages without the permission of my Office through the Office of the Press Secretary.
The carrying of firearms outside residences even if such firearms are covered by licenses but without the permission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is punishable by death.
Curfew is established from 12 o’clock midnight to 4 o’clock in the morning.
The departure of Filipinos abroad is temporarily suspended. Exceptions, of course, are official missions that may be necessary. Clearances will be given by the Secretary of National Defense.
In the meantime, rallies and demonstrations are prohibited. So, too, are strikes especially in critical public utilities.
I have ordered the arrest of those directly involved in the conspiracy to overthrow our duly constituted government by violence and subversion.
It is my intention beginning tomorrow to issue all the orders which would attain reforms in our society. This would include the proclamation of land reform all over the Philippines, the reorganization of the government, new rules for the conduct of civil servants and those in the civil service, the removal of corrupt and inefficient public officials and their replacements including those in the judiciary and the breaking up of criminal syndicates.
The persons who will be adversely affected are those who are active participants in the conspiracy and operations to overthrow the duly constituted government of the Republic of the Philippines by violence or by subversion.
All public officials and employees, whether of the national or local government, must now conduct themselves in the manner of a new and reformed society. We will explain the requirements and standards or details as soon as possible.
But any form of corruption, culpable negligence or arrogance will be dealt with immediately.
The armed forces are already cleaning up their own ranks. I am directing the organization of a military commission to investigate, try and punish all military offenders immediately. For more than any other man the soldier must set a standard of nobility. We must be courageous, yes, but we must be humble and above all, we must be fair. As this is true of the soldier, it must be true of the civilian public officer. Let no man who claims to be a friend, relative or at presume to seek license because of this relationship.
If you offend the New Society, you shall be punished like the rest of the offenders.
Persons who have nothing whatsoever to do with such conspiracy and operations to overthrow the Republic of the Philippines by violence or sub-version have nothing to fear. They can move about and perform their daily activities without any apprehension from action or counteraction by the government especially after the period of counteraction which I have directed to be taken against the conspirators.
I repeat: This government is the same government that you, the people established in 1946 under the Constitution of the Philippines. There is no doubt in everybody’s mind that a state of rebellion exists in the Philippines. The ordinary man in me streets of our cities, the peasants, the laborers know it. Industrialists know it. So does the government functionary. They have all been affected by it.
This danger to the Republic of the Philippines and the existence of a rebellion has been recognized even by our Supreme Court in its decision in the case of Lansang vs. Garcia et al dated December 11, 1971.
But, since the Supreme Court promulgated this decision, the danger has become graver and rebellion has worsened and escalated. It has paralyzed functions of the national and local governments. The productive sectors of the economy have been grounded to a halt. Many schools have closed down. The judiciary is unable to administer justice. Many of our businessmen, traders, industrialists, producers, manufacturers have stopped their operations. In the Greater Manila alone, tension and anxiety have reached the point where the citizens are compelled to stay home. Lawlessness and criminality like kidnapping, smuggling, extortion, blackmailing, armed robbery, illegal traffic in drugs, gun-running, hoarding, manipulation of prices, corruption in government, tax evasion, perpetrated by syndicated criminals have increasingly escalated beyond the capability of the local police and civilian authorities. The usually busy centers of Greater Manila such as cinema houses, supermarkets, restaurants, transportation terminals and even public markets are practically deserted.
Battles are going on between the elements of our government forces and the subversives in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. In Luzon, particularly in Isabela, Zambales, Tarlac, Camarines Sur, Quezon and in Mindanao, especially in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Cotabato. If this continues even at the present rate, the economy of the country will collapse, the country will collapse in a short time. In one province alone, Isabela, which we shall adopt as an example, where the Communist Party and the New People’s Army have sought to establish a rural sanctuary, they are now in control of 33 municipalities out of 37. Other towns are infiltrated severely by these armed elements of the communists. In this province alone, the supposed invisible government of the Communist Party has been organized through the Barrio Organizing Committees known as the BOC’s totalling 207 in 25 towns. In early 1971 there were only 161 BOC’s in 12 towns.
In addition to the Barrio Organizing Committees, they have also organized the Barrio Revolutionary Committees or BRC’s. And in Angadanan and Cauayan of that same province of Isabela, the New People’s Army has established communal farms and production bases.
The New People’s Army has started to expand its operations to Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino as well as the Mt. Provinces like Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao, Bontoc and Benguet and even the two Ilocos provinces of Ilocos Sur and La Union have been infiltrated.
The New People’s Army and the Communist Party have also sought to establish in a similar pattern a rural sanctuary in the province of Camarines Sur and they are attempting to expand into Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte as well as Quezon province.
The armed elements of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Maois faction, have increased to about 10,000 which include regulars as well as farmers in the daytime and soldiers at night. This is an increase of 100 percent in a short period of six months. These parties increased their mass base to 100,000 and their front organization’s operations have increased tremendously also. An example of such a front organization is the Kabataang Makabayan, the most militant organization of the Communist Party which has increased its chapters from 200 in 1970 to 317 at the end of the month of July this year and its membership from 10,000 in 1970 to about 15,000 at the end of July of this year.
The Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan or SDK, an outspoken front organization of the Communist Party increased its chapters from almost none in 1970 to 159 at the end of July of this year, and now, has 1,495 highly indoctrinated and fanatical members.
The crucial point which indicates an increase in the capability, the area of operations as well as the manpower and firepower of the New People’s Army is the M/V Karagatan or Palanan incident in Palanan, Isabela, last July 4th and 5th of this year. This was a landing by an ocean-going ship of a reported 3,500 M-14 rifles of which only about 900 were recovered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. About 30 rocket launchers of the M-40 variety of which only 6, were recovered from the area. This rocket can pierce steel 18 inches thick at and reinforced concrete of 36 inches thickness as well as 4 sandbags put together. Also captured by our government troops in this Palanan landing were two. Browning automatic rifles which were originally looted by defector Victor Corpus, from the arsenal of the Philippine Military Academy, five garand M-1 rifles, 1 telephone switchboard, 7 telephone sets, some magazines for rifles and many revealing subversive documents.
This landing of military armaments and equipment in Palanan, Isabela indicated:
1. That the claim of the New People’s Army that they are well funded and have plenty of money has basis in fact.
2. That they now have sources of funds and equipment not only from inside the Philippines but also from outside our country.
3. That the Communist Party and the New People’s Army are capable of landing armaments, military equipment and even personnel in the many unguarded points of the long sea coast of the Philippines, which sea coast is twice that of the United States. The defense establishment has submitted that there have been attempts to infiltrate the military organizations as well as the Office of the Secretary of National Defense. There have been various incidents and attempts to sabotage not only the operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines but the operations of the national government. It has been reported that the communications system of the Philippine Constabulary is being utilized by the subversives. The subversives have organized urban partisans in the Greater Manila Area and they have been and still are very active. They have succeeded in some of their objectives.
The violent disorder in Mindanao and Sulu has to date resulted in the killing of over 1,000 civilians and about 2,000 armed Muslims and Christians, not to mention the more than 500,000 of injured, displaced and homeless persons as well as the great number of casualties among our government troops.
At the same time, the economy of Mindanao and Sulu is almost completely paralyzed.
I assure you that I am utilizing this power for the proclamation of martial law vested in me by the Constitution for one purpose alone, and that is, to save the Republic and reform our society. I wish to emphasize these two objectives. We will eliminate the threat of a violent overthrow of our Republic, but at the same time, we must now reform the social, economic and political institutions in our country. The plans, the order for reforms and removal of the inequities of our society, the clean-up of government of its corrupt and sterile elements, the liquidation of the criminal syndicates, the systematic development of our economy, the general program for a new and better Philippines will be explained to you. But we must start out with the elimination of anarchy and the maintenance of peace and order.
I have had to use this constitutional power in order that we may not completely lose the civil rights and freedom we cherish.
I assure you that this is not a precipitate decision, and that I have weighed all the factors. If there were any other solution at our disposal and within our capability which could solve this problem, we would have utilized such a solution and I would have chosen it. But there was none. I have used the other two alternatives of, first calling out the troops to quell the rebellion and I have suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. But the rebellion has not been stopped.
I repeat, it has worsened. Thus, it was discovered that when the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was lifted on January 11, 1972, the organizations of the Communist Party had expanded their area of operations as well as increased their membership.
So, these two remedies, calling out of the troops and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, are unavailing. You are all witnesses to this. You have witnessed the events of the last year. We have fallen and we are falling back on our last line of defense. You are also witnesses to the patience that we have shown in the face of the provocation. In the face of abuse and license, we have used or attempted to use persuasion. Now, the limit has been reached, for we are against the wall. We must now defend the Republic of the Philippines with this stronger power granted by the Constitution. To those guilty of treason, insurrection, rebellion, it may pose a grave danger. But to the ordinary citizens, to almost all of you whose primary concern is merely to be left alone to pursue your lawful activities, this is the guarantee of that freedom that you seek. All that I do is for the Republic and for you.
Rest assured that I will continue to do so and I have prayed to God for guidance. Let us all continue to pray to Him. I am confident that with God’s help, we will attain our dream of a reformed society, a new and brighter world.
Marcos, F. E. (1978). Presidential speeches (Vol. 4). [Manila : Office of the President of the Philippines].