It’s time indeed. Filipino “activists” have worn the old Martial Law scarecrow to tatters. The idea that vigilance involves raising a screeching fit whenever even just a hint of the dreaded two words M-A-R-T-I-A-L L-A-W are detected in a verbal or written message is now a mere quaint relic of a peiod when “freedom fighters” were regaled as “heroes”. As is becoming evident today, while freedom’s self-anointed guardians focused this “vigilance” on the imagined threat of “another Martial Law”, a whole new threat crept up from beneath Philippine society’s underbelly and took root.
Yet, it seems, certain “activists” haven’t gotten the memo yet. The issues today no longer revolve around “freedom”. The whole notion that an absence of “freedom” is the root cause of every problem in the Philippines has long been debunked. Thirty years of post-Martial-Law “freedom” has yielded hardly any change in the Philippines’ rigid feudal caste system that structurally underlies the Philippine economy. And, for those thirty years, a concerted effort by the oligarchy to indoctrinate entire generations of Filipinos with the Yellowtard “freedom-versus-authoritarianism” rhetoric effectively masked this non-change.
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It is therefore hardly surprising that newly-enlightened Filipinos today strongly question whether there really is any difference between being under the late former President Ferdinand Marcos’s Martial Law or not — more specifically, whether they are any freer than they were under Martial Law.
This is why all the noise about President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent declaration of Martial Law over Mindanao is so ridiculous. Hipster “activists” make this declaration sound like it will herald the Philippines’ return to the Dark Ages. This noise (which emanates mostly from Manila’s Starbucks cafes) largely rings hollow and falls on jaded ears nowadays. For one thing, Filipinos no longer regard “the Martial Law years” as a dark age. The difference in “liberties” played up in the immediate couple of years following the 1986 “revolution” has been eclipsed by the sameness of the situation revealed as post-“revolution” years turned into decades.
And so, now, the far bigger threat of Islamic terrorism looms in the horizon. Compared to the modus operandi of the Islamic State — an alien that gestates in a living human host and has concentrated molecular acid for blood — Martial Law is a mere mosquito bite. Nothing could save a once-thriving secular society after a fully-functional caliphate bursts out of its belly in a bloody spectacle. A mosquito bite, in comparison, can simply be scratched for relief.
Individual liberties count for nothing when the challenge is to muster a collective resolve to combat an alien culture that stands for everything that modern civilised society isn’t. When Filipino “activists” branded themselves as the “decent” lot to set them apart from those who dared take a path outside their daang matuwid (“straight and narrow”) they thought that the difference between them and the “others” meant the whole world of difference. That difference between traditional Philippine politics’ polar camps, say between the so-called Yellowtards and the Dutertards, now means nothing when regarded in the context of the terrorist threat now confronting the Philippines.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.