VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizens resurface INACCURATE claims about Martial Law

Filipino social media users have resurrected a 2018 Facebook (FB) post blaming former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. for the martial law declaration by Ferdinand Marcos in September 1972. The post is based on inaccurate statements.

The post included a photo of Aquino's celebrity daughter, Kris, and a caption that read: “WALA UTANG ANG MGA PILIPINO SA AMA MO! | Bagkus Ang Ama Mo Ang Dahilan Kung Bakit Nagdeklara Nang MARTIAL LAW (Filipinos don’t owe your father anything! In fact, your father was the reason why martial law was declared)!”

A reader asked VERA Files Fact Check to verify the claim.

That the opposition leader during the Marcos dictatorship founded two rebel organizations which prompted the declaration of martial law is unsubstantiated.

The FB post also gave incorrect dates regarding the creation of the two groups, inconsistencies on when Marcos’ political enemies were arrested or self-exiled, and an incorrect claim about a 1977 court case against Aquino.

VERA Files Fact Check debunks these below.

On the MNLF-MIM

Claim

Rating

Ninoy Aquino organized the Moro Secession or “Nur Misuari’s MNLF-MIM” in 1968

False

The Moro secession is a separatist movement by Muslims that started in the late 1960s that rooted from resentment against slow economic progress in Mindanao, the loss of land from the influx of Christian migrants, and the threat of “political subjugation” and of the weakening or possible “extinction” of their religion and way of life in a Catholic-dominated Philippines.

In May 1968, two months after the Jabidah Massacre where several Muslim soldiers were killed by state soldiers in Corregidor, Datu Udtog Matalam of Cotabato established the MIM through a manifesto calling for the secession of Muslims from the country.

The Moro National Liberation Front, a splinter group that broke off from the MIM, was established in 1972 with Nur Misuari as its founding chairman.

On the CPP-NPA

Claims

Rating

Ninoy Aquino organized the CPP-NPA in 1968

False

That Aquino organized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), is a claim that has been fact checked by VERA Files in the past.

The CPP was founded by Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Dec. 26, 1968. Its armed wing, the NPA, was founded by Sison and Bernabe “Kumander Dante” Buscayno on March 29, 1969, according to a tracker maintained by Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Online post REWRITES and DISTORTS Aquino family history and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Enrile asserts unproven claim about Ninoy Aquino’s ties with CPP-NPA, MNLF)

Sison also said in a 2010 article that there was no formal alliance between Aquino and the CPP-NPA, but both parties were “informal and practical cooperators from late 1968 up to [Aquino’s] assassination (in 1983).”

On the dates of Aquino’s and Sison’s arrests, Misuari’s exile

Claims

Rating

Ninoy Aquino was arrested in 1972

True

Joma Sison was arrested in 1974, Nur Misuari “fled the country” beginning 1972

False

Aquino was indeed arrested at midnight on Sept. 22, 1972 by Philippine Constabulary general Romeo Gatan, a day after Marcos declared martial law.

The FB post, however, got wrong the years of Sison’s arrest and Misuari’s self-exile.

Sison was arrested on Nov. 10, 1977, not 1974, in San Fernando, Pampanga, with his wife Julie and three other comrades. He was charged with subversion and rebellion for leading the CPP and NPA.

Misuari went into self-exile in Saudi Arabia and Libya in 1976, and not in 1972 as claimed. He returned to the country 10 years later, after negotiating with Ninoy’s wife, former President Corazon Aquino.

On the ‘treason’ verdict vs Aquino

Claims

Rating

Ninoy Aquino was convicted with treason for collaborating with insurgency groups

Inaccurate

Aquino was not convicted with treason for helping Moro secessionists and the communist insurgency in 1968. He was convicted with subversion, murder, and illegal possession of firearms by a military court on Nov. 25, 1977. He was to be executed via firing squad but this was suspended after an international outcry.

The FB post, first published in August 2018, was reshared on FB pages and groups beginning Sept. 17, four days before the 49th commemoration of the declaration of martial law. It has so far garnered over 36,000 reactions, 19,000 comments and 85,000 shares, and its top generators include FB pages DU30 MEDIA Network, BBM for Peace, Unity & Progress, and The Real Change.

DU30 MEDIA Network was created in June 2016, BBM for Peace, Unity & Progress in October 2015, and The Real Change in September 2020.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Send us a message here or here.

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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