Military terrorism persists in the country. Military rule remains a reality 40 years after Ferdinand Marcos' formal declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972 and 26 years after his regime was overthrown in a people's uprising in February 1986.
Marcos used martial law to perpetuate himself in power and strengthen the rule of foreign big capitalists, big bourgeois compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists
Despite the much-vaunted restoration of democracy, there is little to distinguish succeeding regimes from the despised Marcos fascist dictatorship. Even without a formal martial law declaration, state terrorism is able to prevail. The exploiters and oppressors backed up by martial law continue to lord it over
This has been made possible through the intensified militarization of the country since the time of Corazon Aquino's regime up to that of her son Benigno Aquino III. The current regime bears the notoriety of launching massive and incessant military operations and maintaining a heavy military presence in peasant and urban poor communities nationwide.
To preserve the rotten and bankrupt semicolonial and semifeudal system, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other armed minions of the reactionary state have been expanded and given major roles to play since 1972. The AFP's ascendance in many aspects of Philippine society is a manifestation of the continuously worsening crisis of the ruling system, which has made it necessary to strengthen the coercive forces of the state and suppress the people's growing resistance.
Marcos beefed up the AFP from 60,000 to 100,000 troops upon the declaration of martial law and further expanded it to 250,000 in mid-1975 after integrating the forces of the PC-INP. After martial law, the AFP's size further swelled to 200,000 and the PNP from 115,000 to its current size of 140,000. These figures do not include paramilitary forces like the CAFGU and other armed groups controlled by the military whose numbers have also grown severalfold.
The AFP not only serves as the strongest bastion of the reactionary ruling system. It is also US imperialism's most reliable instrument for ensuring its dominance over the country. The AFP is the US' most unflinching ally in the protection of its strategic interests in the Philippines and in stabilizing the reactionary political system, safeguarding foreign investments and suppressing the anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces. Towards this end, US imperialism has taken tremendous efforts to strengthen the AFP's organization, supply it with weapons and train its personnel on current US doctrine.
The AFP and PNP, in fact, trace their origins to the first mercenary troops from Macabebe, Pampanga who were used by the American colonialists to pursue Filipino revolutionaries resisting US occupation troops from 1899-1903. These forces later evolved into the Philippine Scouts (which later became the Philippine Scout Rangers) and the Philippine Constabulary.
Key officers of the AFP are sent for training to US military institutions such as West Point Military Academy, Annapolis Naval Academy and Fort Benning and are recruited as agents of the imperialist Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The AFP is supplied with weapons through the US Foreign Defense Financing Program, and arms procurements from other countries under the AFP Modernization Program are supervised by US military advisers.
On the other hand, every counterrevolutionary campaign waged by the Philippine puppet government is patterned after US doctrine. The current Oplan Bayanihan is practically an exact copy of the US Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009.
The AFP was able to establish its politico-military power in all aspects of Philippine society during martial law's formal 14-year existence. The extent to which the Philippine social system has been militarized is boosted further as tens of thousands of former military officers occupy positions in the civilian bureaucracy. They are either appointed to various government agencies or elected to congress or local government posts. Militarizing the bureaucracy serves the purpose of accommodating retired ranking military officers who are cronies of reactionary politicians. In the same way, the AFP is able to use the civilian bureaucracy to advance its counterrevolutionary programs.
Using the military to deliver services that should be provided by civilian agencies of government has also become a widespread practice, and has become even more rampant under the US-Aquino regime's Oplan Bayanihan through the AFP's "peace and development organizing teams." Civil-military operations feature military troops conducting censuses and medical and dental missions, constructing and repairing schoolbuildings that are eventually used by them as barracks for as long as a year and even grotesque scenes of soldiers providing human rights education to schoolchildren.
This is an insidious effort to erase from the people's collective memory the evil role played by the reactionary military in sowing fascist terror and preserving the exploitative and oppressive ruling system. With the people's consciousness anesthesized into accepting the pervasiveness of the military and turning a blind eye to military abuses, their militant resistance to militarization wanes until they become tolerant of repression.
But all these efforts by the AFP, the Aquino regime and their US imperialist master are in vain. An institution that is puppet, repressive, corrupt and mercenary to the core can never be deodorized and will never evolve into a positive force in society.
With open fascist rule during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship, the people became witness to militarization at its worst. Marcos' martial law has left a poisonous legacy of pervasive militarization and persistent military repression, perpetuated in the guise of "peace and development operations." This is the truth that must be brought to the fore with every commemoration of the martial law declaration.
There is no fitting response to relentless military repression other than for the people to tirelessly expose the truth and persevere in their resistance.
* Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines, issued by the party's Central Committee. It is published bimonthly on the 7th and 21st of each month in Filipino and translated into English, Cebuano, Ilokano, Waray and Hiligaynon.