Editorial: The days before martial law in 1972

What binds people of a certain age, as seen on Facebook or maybe triggered by the recent photo exhibit at Art Portal Gallery on Davao City in the early 80s, is reminiscing about simple pleasures of the past and how they were shaped by that particular time in history.

There is a large dose of nostalgia when they talk of how far a peso can go, cinemas that feature “double with” films, the unpaved roads leading to beaches, the segregation of boys and girls in schools and the unforgettable taste of ice cream and snacks inside one of Aldevinco’s stalls.

But 46 years ago, in the early 70’s there is also another kind of reminiscing.

Former Mindanao Times editor now Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, a young journalist at that time, has a trunk-full of memories on the years prior to and during 1972. Since news doesn’t travel as fast as it is now, Mindanao Times which was a weekly then, wrote about vague whispers of something big about to happen that made the political opposition anxious and the media jittery.

We take the liberty of reprinting the column of Atty. Cesar E. Nunez, the TIMES’ former editor in chief, to take us back to the days shortly before martial law in 1972.

“President Marcos has issued public statements advertising to something terrible that is about to happen in this country – and charged Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. of giving aid and comfort to the Communists. Mr. Marcos’ charges, of course, were denied and made a basis of counter-charges.

“The charges and counter charges only served to aggravate the fears and anxieties of the people, many of whom are beginning to suspect that a situation is being created to justify the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

“Something big, as the President had viewed it, may really be happening and that the situation may be explosive. But, I believe, the President is not justified in unduly alarming the people.

“We expect from the President an example of calmness and confidence – not scary statements that are still to be substantiated.”

Two weeks after this came out, the Mindanao Times, like all other newspapers, radio and TV stations in the country were shut down. It returned a couple of weeks later with the galley sheets already passing through the scrutiny and approval of the Philippine Constabulary at the barracks.

It was a tough time for the media, but as Sec. Dureza would say, it took creativity and maybe a sleight of hand, to bring the news out.

Posted in Opinion