Address of then President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos on 23 September 1972, at 9:00 p.m. announcing that the Philippines has been placed under Martial Law (unofficial transcript of video from ABS-CBN archives).
My countrymen, as of the 21st of this month, I signed Proclamation №. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law. This proclamation was to be implemented upon my clearance, and clearance was granted at nine o’clock of the evening, of the same setting, 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 a helpless government. When it is imperilled by the danger of a violent overthrow, an insurrection, or a rebellion, it is inherent in sweeping powers wisely provided for in the Constitution. Such a danger confronts the Republic of the Philippines.
Article VII, Section 10, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution provides, and I quote:
The President shall be commander-in-chief of all [the] armed forces of the Philippines, and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress…
Official receipts were recovered from the area. These rockets can pierce steel 18 inches thick and the breach(?) reinforced a width of 36 inches thickness, as well as four sandbags stitched together. Also captured by our government troops in the 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 or M1 rifles, one telephone switchboard, seven telephone sets, some magazines for rifles, and many revealing, subversive documents.
The L___(?) who led 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 points unguarded in the long seacoast of the Philippines, which seacoast 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 not only 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 violence that is going on in Mindanao in Cebu, that 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 a great number of casualties among our government troops. At the same time, the economy of Mindanao and Cebu 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: that is to save the Republic and reform our society. I must 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, the economic, and political institutions in our country.
The plan, the order, is for reform in the removal of the inequities in that society, the cleanup of government of its corrupt and shady elements, the elimination of criminal syndicates, the systematic development of our economy, a 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 that we may not completely lose the civil rights and freedoms which we cherish. I assure you that this is not a precipitate decision, that I have weighed all the factors. If there were any other solution at our disposal, and which could solve these problems, we would utilize such a solution, and I would use it. But there is 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 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 organization 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 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 on our last line of defense. You are also witnesses to the patience that we have shown in the face of 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 citizenry, almost all of you, whose primary concern is merely to be left alone to pursue your lawful activities, this is the guarantee of the freedom that you seek.
All that I do and we in government must do is for the Republic and for you. Rest assured that we will continue to be fair. 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 and a new and brighter world. Thank you.