San Francisco – Today, the 40th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines, the League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University (LFS-SFSU), the only overseas chapter of the League of Filipino Students (LFS), calls upon Filipino youth all over the world to link up with the broad masses in the homeland and to struggle for national democracy!
Marcos’ fascist dictatorship was marked by rampant human rights violations, with victims of extrajudicial killings, incarceration, and torture reaching over a hundred thousand. The Marcos administration, spurred by the dictates of US imperialism, also implemented a host of neoliberal economic policies, like the increasing commercialization of education, and the systematic export of cheap labor to foreign countries.
As part of the youth and student sector of the national democratic movement, LFS was a major force in arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the widest ranks of Filipino people who took to the streets, and, in a show of people power, toppled the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. As successors of this militant and revolutionary legacy, we remember and honor the brave men and women who were imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, and killed for the crime of speaking out and struggling against an aggressively anti-people, pro-US, pro-capitalist regime.
However, we must not think of Martial Law as a mere memory of a darker time in Philippine history. Because even with the Marcos dictatorship gone, the remnants of Martial Law still live on. It continued with every single president after the Marcos regime, who chose to serve their US imperialist masters at the expense of the Filipino people suffering. And now, the essence of Martial Law is being perpetuated, ironically, by the son of Ninoy Aquino, a key figure who opposed the Marcos dictatorship, and was assassinated. In the first two years alone of Noynoy Aquino’s presidency, there have been 101 political killings and 11 enforced disappearances, and hundreds of political prisoners remain wrongfully detained. Meanwhile, perpetrators of human rights violations like Jovito Palparan, Jr. and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remain free, and the people still yearn for justice. Thus, the EDSA “Revolution” remains incomplete, and the struggle for a just and equal society still continues.
While the head of the Aquino administration’s Commission on Human Rights would prefer that the youth simply stay inside the library and “study the lessons from Martial Law”, we know that we have a much bigger responsibility to our homeland, one that cannot be fulfilled within the four walls of a classroom. Because we are products of a labor export policy that began with the Marcos regime, we must realize that the problems we face as displaced citizens of the Filipino nation are still rooted in the same basic problems plaguing the Philippines: imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. Clearly, the struggle of the Filipino masses in the homeland and the struggle of Filipinos abroad are one. Therefore, as Filipino youth and students in the belly of the US imperialist beast, we must reclaim and carry on our people’s rich revolutionary history by coming together and actively advancing the struggle for true liberation and national democracy in the Philippines. It is the only way to truly honor those who fought for our freedom during Martial Law, and to ensure that it never happens again. ###
Bernardo Josue, Chairperson, LFS-SFSU