Martial laws in the Philippines

September 21, 1972 is the date many remember as the date Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under martial law.

But unknown to many, there were two other occasions in the Philippines when the power of the Philippine President to declare martial law was invoked.

The first time was on September 21, 1944 by Philippine President Jose P. Laurel. The other occasion was on December 4, 2009, through Proclamation No. 1959 signed by President Macapagal-Arroyo officially placing Maguindanao province under a state of martial law.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on martial laws in the Philippines and in other countries:


President of the Philippines Jose P. Laurel of the wartime Second Philippine Republic (puppet-government under Japan) placed the Philippines under martial law in 1944 through Proclamation No. 29, dated September 21. Martial law came into effect on September 22, 1944, at 9:00 am. Proclamation No. 30 was issued the next day, declaring the existence of a state of war between the Philippines and the United States and the United Kingdom. This took effect on September 23, 1944 at 10:00 am.

The country was under martial law again from 1972 to 1981 under the authoritarian rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Proclamation No. 1081 (Proclaiming a State of Martial Law in the Philippines) was signed on September 21, 1972 and came into force on September 22 – exactly 28 years after similar proclamations by President Laurel. Martial law was declared to suppress increasing civil strife and the threat of communist takeover following a series of bombings and a government-staged assassination attempt on then Defence Minister Juan Ponce Enrile in Manila. The declaration of martial law was initially well-received by some sectors, but it eventually proved unpopular as excesses and human rights abuses by the military emerged, such as the use of torture as a method of extracting information. The well-known People Power Revolution of 1986 took place because of the many violated rights and abuse of authority of Marcos. The People Power Revolution eventually ousted Marcos, and he fled to Hawaii where he died in exile in 1989.

There were rumours that incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was planning to impose martial law to put an end to military coup plots, general civilian dissatisfaction, and criticism of the legitimacy of her presidency due to dubious election results. Instead, a “State of National Emergency” was imposed to crush a coup plot and to tackle protesters which lasted from February 24, 2006 until March 3 of the same year.

On December 4, 2009, through Proclamation No. 1959, President Macapagal-Arroyo has officially placed Maguindanao province under a state of martial law. The declaration also suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the province. The announcement was made days after hundreds of government troops were sent to the province, which would later raid armories of the powerful Ampatuan clan. The Ampatuan family was implicated in the massacre that saw the murder of 57 persons, including women members of the rival Mangudadatu clan, human rights lawyers, and 31 media workers, in the worst incident of political violence in the nation’s history. It has also been condemned worldwide as the worst loss of life of media professionals in one day in the history of journalism.

If you are into serious research work into Philippine martial laws, you may wish to visit the Country Studies website, particularly the site’s section on Philippines.


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