The late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Sr. presided over the Martial Law period in the 1970s and 1980s, which saw the civil liberties of tens of thousands of people routinely violated by state forces. Plagued by questions as to whether Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. intends to copy his father’s iron-fisted rule by repeating the Martial Law period, he has consistently said that Martial Law, “has its place but it is only for war.”
Recent events suggest there might not be a need to declare all-out Martial Law for the new administration to achieve the same results. There is another tool at the government’s disposal: the Anti-Terror Law, which was passed in July 2020 and affirmed as constitutional by the Supreme Court in April of this year.
“The Anti-Terror Law is enough of a shield against political opponents,” said public policy expert Bobby Tuazon of the Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG). “The country’s economic and political conditions are so dire that anti-government protests are inevitable, probably leading to political instability. Marcos Jr. will respond with an iron hand, including the full force of the Anti-Terror Law.”
He also mentioned the Marcos family’s restoration to power as having a chilling effect, practically encouraging impunity. In the current president’s latest State of the Nation Address, he excluded human rights, justice, and peace – issues that have hounded the previous regime and his father’s dictatorship.
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