The Marcos Regime- Martial Law – Albert Magat

Shattering and shaking the country for a period of time, Martial Law, which was ordered by Ferdinand Marcos, in September 21, 1972, was a very dark time for the Philippines.   At the time of Martial law, my grandfather, Renato D. Bulay, worked for the Philippine government.  He worked as an agricultural director and had pretty close ties with Marcos during Marco’s time as president of the country.  In fact, my grandfather was given orders to distribute certain amounts of food and agricultural supplies to many people to help boost Marco’s popularity so that he’ll be elected president once more after the time of Martial law.  Corruption, injustice and violence plagued the Philippines during Marco’s regime.  The people in the Philippines, at the time, were in fact uncontrollable, but Martial law was ensued by Marcos for other matters, which involved himself.  Mr. Bulay, who currently resides in Glendale, at the age of 67, shares his memories and opinions on a major event that will always be remembered by the world and especially the people of the Philippines.

My name is Renato N. Bulay.  I live here at 1411 E. Acacia Avenue Glendale.  I’m Filipino, about to be come an American citizen, waiting for my oat taking, as of now I’m still a Filipino.  I’m presently 67 years old going 68, and I was born in the Philippines September 27, 1934.

That was 1981, and I think at the time of martial law I was a Regional Director at Central Luzon Bureau of Animal Industry.  I had close ties with Marcos, I remember Marcos released 50 million pesos to our minister of agriculture Salvador Escudero III and they want me to use that for dispersal program, our life stock dispersal program in my region but actually I think we used for the snap election you know for the campaign of Marcos for his reelection you know and the money was released to me December 1st and I have to use it for only one month you know December 31 thinking that I would have some problems you know in the disposal of that money I just uh… kept the money in my bolt in the office and I did not use it for the program.  I did not use the money Marcos gave me.  Yeah, that’s right I felt that if I would use that money for the program it would be very hard to use that within one month you know, I might be held accountable.  They would suspect, there would be some irregularities especially that it was campaign time Since it was like such a large amount of money you wasn’t sure, the people would think that maybe I’d take some of it too as well.  That’s what I was thinking.

I was not affected personally during the declaration of martial law, although many government officials were purged or dismissed from their jobs for a suspected corruption and wrong doings I was spared and not removed from my present job because I had not done something wrong and I think I had very good performance in the implementation of the various and agricultural programs affecting animal production in the region where I was assigned.

At first I was very supportive of Macros’ ideas and actions because there was already chaos and big problems being undertaken by his political opponents and uh… he thinks this is the only way that he could bring back the country to a normalcy.  In the early stage of the implementation of the martial law we observed that it was functioning very well but later on problems uh, that problems were observed in the implementation as they said, due to the strong influence of Marco’s wife Imelda.  That is the cause of his downfall.

As I said during martial law there was already chaos.  Later part of martial implementation, many problems were being observed like the lifting of the habeas corpus.  As people, many individuals were being arrested and put to jail without due process particularly his political opponents, journalist and people in the media who were attacking his administration.  That’s why the social economic condition of the country was badly affected, living conditions became different and difficult because there was no longer democracy in our government and president Marcos was tagged as a dictator and one man rule.  To the extent, that the house of congress and senate were abolished economy, the economy was greatly affected and the implementation of various important projects and programs to solve these problems were placed under bad light and greater problems.  Yeah, there was curfew I think it was 10 o’clock p.m in the evening you know until 4 o’clock in the early morning.  Mobility of people were of course affected, there was no longer freedom of the press.

I think there was a necessity for martial law to be enforced during the time because the country was already in deep trouble, and chaos.  Many people of various sectors of society have conducted rallies and protests and killings everywhere because they became antagonistic against the Marcos regime.  They do not like Marcos anymore, he observed that by the enforcement of martial law he could bring the country back to normalcy as soon as possible.

Had Marcos rallied the people on his side by establishing good relations and have implemented good government system and proper implementation of various government programs in an honest way and that he did not become corrupt as greatly influenced, as I said, by his wife, he would have solved the problems in the Philippines and most importantly the establishment of harmonious working relationship with the different government functionaries particularly the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government, the problems should have been addressed to and ultimately the present predicament.

Well, as a leader, he could’ve been one of the greatest if not the greatest presidents the Philippines could ever had, because he is very intelligent and possessed the quality of a good leader.  If not for the problems that beset his administration as they said because of the strong influence of his wife that lead to corruption in every branches of the government.  As a person being Ilocano they said that he is noted for his thriftiness and frugality, which is the best-known characteristics and traits of people in this Philippine region.

Well as a government official myself during the Marcos regime, I intend to believe the Marcos rumors that he wanted to establish a one-man rule, which I believe then was a necessity during the time of martial law, but it was not put to good use and practice.  It was observed, many observed that in the earlier stage of each implementation, the president himself and many of government officials under his administration were doing well and good, but later on corruption was a common practice in the administration.

Yeah, the Philippines became a better country because democracy was restored like freedom of the press and people can move freely doing their work without any apprehensions. Yeah, martial law made a difference.

Personally, martial law did not affect my life because as a good public servant I was doing my job with dedication and perseverance before and after martial place ever took place.  In my case, I was never affected and I was able to serve the government for almost 38 years.


Interviewed by Albert Magat