March 23, 2023

Batas Militar – (Martial Law) / 1997 / ABS-CBN /

(Martial Law) / 1997 / ABS-CBN / Producing Company: Foundation for Worldwide People Power / Producers: Eugenia Apostol, Felly Arroyo / Executive Producer: Kara Magsanoc / Director for Film and Field Production: Jon Red / Director for OBB: Mike Alcazaren / Director for Postproduction: Jennifer Ifurung / Assistant Director: Amparo Po / Writer: Lito Tiongson / Script Consultant: Jose Lacaba / Videographers: Ruben Lee, Boy Araneta / Online Editors: Dave Hukom, Reggie Guilo, Ron Dale, Paul dela Cruz, Bob Serrano / Music Director: Jaime Fabregas / Sound Effects Producer: Carol Garcia / Head Researcher: Fe Zamora / Narrator: Joonee Gamboa

Manila News-Intelligencer (B_WORKS_Batas_Militar_1)


President Ferdinand Marcos and his generals on national television during the 1986 EDSA Revolt (Photo courtesy of PTV 4)


The 90-minute documentary tackles the dark period of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, beginning from his re-election as President in 1969, to the declaration of martial law in 1972, until the EDSA People Power Revolution that overthrew his regime in 1986. Composed of footage and photos from actual events, the documentary chronologically narrates the horrors of martial rule. It first presents how Marcos appealed the murder conviction against him in the Supreme Court and won acquittal, after which he won government positions, became a Senator, then rose to the presidency. Interviews with Imelda Marcos defending her husband’s “compassionate society,” denying human rights violations, and justifying the vision of “The New Society” are juxtaposed with footage of the violence of the Marcos dispensation, such as torture, summary execution, bloody demonstrations, and arrest of opposition leaders and student activists. The irony is heavily emphasized with the “Bagong Lipunan” (New Society) hymn of the government embedded in the sequences that reveal the tyranny of the regime. The documentary details Marcos’s political moves and corruption to keep himself in power, discusses events such as the First Quarter Storm and the bombing of Plaza Miranda, analyzes crony capitalism, and enumerates the Rolex 12, which is the collective name of 12 of the closest and most powerful advisers of Marcos who were mostly members of the military.

The documentary also chronicles the struggle of Marcos’s erstwhile political opponent, Senator Ninoy Aquino, such as his 40-day hunger strike; his anti-Marcos activities in the United States; his speeches that exposed the Jabidah massacre of Muslims in 1968 by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Oplan Sagittarius, which is an outline of the imposition of martial law; and his death on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport. His death is described as the final straw in the struggle against the Marcos regime, one of many factors that incited the people to hold the historic People Power Revolution that freed the Filipinos from martial law.

The documentary includes more than 50 interviews with the architects and victims of martial law, some of whom include General Romeo Espino, then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Blas Ople, then Secretary of Labor; Juan Ponce Enrile, defense minister during martial law who would eventually dissociate himself from the dictator; Imelda Marcos, the First Lady; Satur Ocampo, co-founder of the underground National Democratic Front; Bernabe Buscayno, former commander of the armed New People’s Army; Raul Manglapus, a delegate of the 1971 Constitutional Convention; Jovito Salonga, opposition leader from the Liberal Party; Dodong Nemenzo, political scientist who would become president of the University of the Philippines; Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, who called on the people to protect the anti-Marcos military on EDSA; and Corazon Aquino, who would be catapulted to the presidency after the ouster of Marcos.

Batas Militar won the Best TV Special Award in the 10th Gawad CCP Para sa Telebisyon in 1997.


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