Statement on the 50th Anniversary of Martial Law

The Center for Women’s Resources joins the Filipino people in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, one of the darkest moments in Philippine history. Fifty years ago, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. plunged the country into an unsurmountable crisis characterized by massive plunder, corruption, elite rule, and political repression.

But while the dictatorship signaled crisis and the death of democracy, it gave birth to the fiercest resistance of women and the Filipino people. Today we salute and pay our highest tribute to those who dared to resist and fight back. We remember Elsa “Liza” Balando, a trade union activist killed by military forces while voicing the workers’ demands for better working conditions; Rizalina Ilagan, an activist and community organizer who was forcibly disappeared; Liliosa Hilao and Nimfa “Nona” Del Rosario, student writers, and activists; Maria Lorena Barros, a young woman leader, writer, and instrumental in mobilizing women’s resistance against the Marcos dictatorship. We honor and remember the tens of thousands who were killed, disappeared, imprisoned, and tortured, in the course of fighting tyranny.

The tyrant was ousted in the people’s uprising in 1986 yet the Philippines has never totally recuperated. Our economy continues to be underdeveloped, debt-ridden, and foreign-controlled. While those in power continue to live lavishly, the majority of Filipino people, including women suffer from poverty and lack of basic services, and human rights violations.

Five decades on, massive disinformation, misinformation, political deceit, and brazen electoral fraud have installed Marcos Jr. to the Philippine presidency. He is hell-bent on systematically denying the grim history of his father’s regime. At the same time, we see the same patterns of corruption, lavish lifestyle, adherence to neoliberalism, and total disregard for women’s and people’s rights and welfare.

Today, we reaffirm our commitment to fight back. We will remain steadfast in holding tyrants, plunderers, and rights violators accountable – in the halls of parliament, on the streets, and in our communities. We will carry forward and strengthen our movement, to continue our collective education and mobilize against all forms of injustice.

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