– On the 51st anniversary of the declaration of martial law, the Philippines pauses to remember and reflect. Retired Catholic bishops Deogracias Iniguez Jr. of Kalookan and Antonio Tobias of Novaliches have taken the lead in this act of remembrance by holding a mass at the EDSA Shrine. The message is clear and resonates deeply with many: “Never again! We remember in our prayers the victims of martial law. We also pray that this darkest period in our history may never be repeated!” This sentiment was echoed by the EDSA Shrine on their Facebook page.

The mass, scheduled for 12:15 p.m., is not just a religious gathering but a powerful statement against the atrocities of the past. Radio Veritas, a church-run station, has been instrumental in spreading the word about this significant event.

Liberal Party president Rep. Edcel Lagman emphasized the importance of remembering the past, stating that Filipinos must ensure that the memory of this dark era in Philippine history is “perpetuated to repel any attempt of repetition.” He added, “We celebrate anniversaries not only to commemorate past achievements but also to condemn past horrors.”

It was on September 21, 1972, that the then-president’s father signed Proclamation 1081, which placed the Philippines under martial law. This period, which lasted until January 17, 1981, saw the country grappling with widespread human rights abuses. The martial law era was marked by 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 forced disappearances, and 70,000 incarcerations.

The EDSA Shrine, built in 1989, stands as a testament to the 1986 people power revolution, a movement that eventually led to the ousting of the then-president in February 1986. The shrine also played a pivotal role in the 2001 EDSA revolution, which saw the removal of former president Joseph Estrada.

In a show of solidarity and remembrance, the University of the Philippines (UP) will hold a noise barrage at noon. UP president Angelo Jimenez has urged members of the UP System to actively participate in activities that commemorate the suppression of freedom during the martial law era. He encouraged everyone to use car horns and other materials to create noise throughout the campus, stating, “This activity is intended to demonstrate that the University will continue to be a bulwark of academic freedom and human rights in the light of attempts at historical revisionism and red-tagging to suppress dissent.”

As the nation remembers, it is clear that the wounds of the past are still fresh, and the call to ensure that such atrocities are never repeated is louder than ever.

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