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Enrile errs in claiming Marcos' martial law observed Bill of Rights

Thousands of human rights violations were committed during the years the country was under martial law imposed in 1972 by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, contrary to former senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s claim that the Bill of Rights was upheld during that period.

The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) created under Republic Act No. 10368 to recognize and commemorate human rights victims of the Marcos regime documented at least 11,103 cases of human rights violations from the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972 to Marcos’ ouster on Feb. 25, 1986.

RA 10368, or the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, mandates the country “to recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.” It allocated P10 billion for reparation to victims of gross human rights violations during that period and for the establishment of a memorial museum and library.

Enrile, Marcos’ former defense minister and martial law administrator who eventually led the people power revolution that toppled the dictator in 1986, wrongly claimed that rights were upheld during martial law in his Facebook post dated Nov. 11. Justifying martial rule in his post titled “Aftermath of martial law,” he said:

After two months or so, martial law was stabilized...The Bill of Rights was assiduously observed.

Of the 11,103 cases on the HRVCB list, 2,326 were killed or disappeared and 3,355 were detained. The Bill of Rights in both the 1935 Constitution and the 1973 Constitution, which took effect during martial law, had guaranteed, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

At least 3,318 were exiled during the Marcos dictatorship in violation of the Bill of Rights provision on the liberty of abode, or the right to choose one’s residence, and the liberty to travel of every Filipino at the time.

At least 2,104 were tortured during martial law, according to the HRVCB. The 1973 Constitution contained no provision against torture. The right against torture was added in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution and was reinforced with the passage of RA No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.

Enrile, who briefly served as democracy icon Corazon Aquino’s defense secretary before their falling out, has given conflicting versions of what had transpired during martial law.

One of the most controversial was the purported ambush on his convoy on Sept. 22, 1972 that supposedly led to the declaration of martial law. At the height of the 1986 uprising, he said the ambush was faked. In his memoir, however, he made a turnaround and insisted the ambush took place.

Enrile has endorsed Marcos’ son, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., for the presidency. (JAC)


Anti-Torture Act of 2009, Rep. Act. No. 9745. (Sept. 2, 2009) (Phil.)

CNN Philippines. (2021, November 6). LOOK: Enriles endorse Bongbong Marcos’ 2022 presidential bid.

Enrile, J. P. (2021, November 11). Aftermath of martial law [Status Update]. Facebook.

Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, Rep. Act No. 10368, § 2, (Feb.25, 2013) (Phil.).

Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB). (2014). A summary of the accomplishments of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB). Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from

Mydans, S. (1986, February 23). 2 key military leaders quit and urge Marcos to resign; he calls on them to submit. The New York Times.

Proclaiming a State of Martial Law in the Philippines, Proclamation No. 1081, (Sept. 21, 1972) (Phil.) Proclamation No. 1081, s. 1972 | Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines

The fall of the dictatorship. (n.d.). Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.


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