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[Pic Pocket] ‘United People’s Action’ Against Martial Law

Photographer PAU VILLANUEVA captures protesters as they remember and condemn the military rule of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

On September 23, 1972, former president Ferdinand Marcos announced that he has placed the whole Philippines under martial law—and 46 years later, people are still talking about it.

On one side of the political spectrum, it is hailed as one of the best periods in Philippine history. It apparently brought unprecedented peace and it supposedly laid the foundation for a lot of the good things currently enjoyed by the country. On the other end of that spectrum, however, it is deemed as one of the darker chapters of the country’s story, a time when the suspension of several rights supposedly led to rampant corruption, mass disappearances, killings, and other human rights violations. While some continue to laud it, others continue to loathe it and the latter showed force last Friday at Luneta.

Dubbed the United People’s Action, the event brought together thousands of anti-martial law protesters from various industries and age groups. Converging from different points in Metro Manila, they came together to remember the strongman’s reign during martial law and lambasted the atrocities it has long been attributed to. Their criticism came in the form of signs, chanting, and art.

Among the works featured at the event was a painting depicting the rotting face of the former president. It unfolds to reveal the faces of his son, Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Jr, current speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and incumbent Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. These are the three people accused of following the late Marcos’ footsteps. But even as their mugs surface from the bisected visage of the former strongman, the collective battle cry of the people at the rally remained the same: “never again.”

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