There were lots of insights, points of view and arguments to whether martial law had negative or positive effects to politics, economy, society and culture of the Philippines. Some may say that martial law was the darkest episodes in the country’s very recent past and some may applauded Marcos for imposing such system that results to a more “disciplined Filipinos ”. But most of them who experienced martial law, considered it as one of the horrible memory of the past. Impressive at first, but on the latter part caused pain in way that a leader betrayed his fellowmen.
Politically speaking, Marcos’ dictatorship and “crony capitalism” had a great impact and it contributed to a less competitive and an incompetent government. Marcos appointed his friends, families and to people that he has an “utang na loob” even though these are not qualified and cannot fulfill their duties well. This closed the door for those who are much competent and the one that the Filipino people needed, for 20 years Marcos and his cronies owned Filipino people which gave a hard time attaining stability. Although he has nice visions for the future, programs for economic development, concerning farmers, the tourist sector, and even improvement in infrastructures were not properly planned that resulted to the Philippines to have debt-driven-growth.
Masagana 99’s outcome was rice production dramatically increased from 4.4 million tons to 5.5 million tons in the first year of the program and by 1978; the Philippines became self-sufficient in rice. In fact, it even began exporting rice. Marcos created the Department of Tourism to intensify the tourism industry in the country. This industry did not only generate employment but earned foreign exchange for the country from tourist receipts. World-class hotels, convention and cultural centers and tourist amenities were constructed. Public beaches, resorts, gardens and parks, golf courses were developed. Historical and cultural sites were, likewise, preserved. With all these plus, the world-renowned Filipino hospitality, tourism became the fourth largest dollar-earning industry in the country.
In fact, in 1980 tourist arrivals reached more than one million which generated an approximately $450 Million of tourist receipts. Marcos established science education system, accelerated manpower skills training to respond to regional industrial needs; a regional agricultural education programs; emphasis on work-oriented programs; a policy of bilingualism; the National College Entrance Examination which classifies students by profession or vocation; and a “Study Now, Pay Later” plan which is intended to help poor but deserving students and n 1985, President Marcos implemented the National Service Law (Presidential Decree No. 1706, dated 8 August 1980).
It provided for the training of students not only for military service but also for civic welfare and law enforcement under the direction of the Ministry of National Defense. But because of his close relationship to the U.S. he tends to borrow a lot of money that amounted to $28 billion during his term which is far from a less than billion dollar before his term. Despite having such achievement during his term, lasting effects became superior among them all, on the latter part Philippine suffered from a large amount of debt that until now government is still paying for this.
I believe there’s a much lasting effects when we talk about “culture”, people suffered, they were torture and forced to shut up. That’s why when we attain democracy; we’re like hungry for freedom, starving for a more comfortable way of living. Martial law was not just about suffering, let us accept the fact that Marcos also done such good things in improving Philippines, but the wrong thing there is that the way he governed and implemented Martial Law. There’s no such perfect government or leader, what is important today is that we don’t waste the lessons that we learned from our past so that the tendency to repeat it will be avoided. And with this, we can appreciate the kind of freedom we have right now, Martial Law may be painful but the thing is WE LEARNED TO APPRECIATE AND UNDERSTAND THAT FREEDOM IS NOT ABSOLUTE.