Random Thoughts

DUTERTE MARTIAL LAW VS MARCOS MARTIAL LAW – Who’s afraid of martial law? Not me, who was among the first newsmen in the province arrested by the then Philippine Constabulary (PC) when Proclamation 1081 signed by then President Marcos was implemented in Pangasinan.

In fact, I spent few hours in the stockade ahead of Nestor Pulido, and less than an hour after Tony Hombrebueno and his group were rounded up and transported to the PC camp in Lingayen.

I got dragged into the hole because I was in front of a newsstand on Torres Bugallon Avenue (that’s A.B. Fernandez today) looking for newspapers to buy. One PC enlisted man alighted from a jeep and rudely ordered the newspaper vendor to go home and stop selling newspapers.

I got piqued by his conduct and with my youthful idealism, plus the instinct of a journalist in my system, I questioned the order in defense of the poor newspaper vendor.

The enlisted man referred me to his officer who turned out to be no other than PC Provincial Commander, Col. Vicente Eduardo, sitting in the front seat of the jeep. When I got near the officer, he ordered: “Get this one”.

I was made to climb into the back of the jeep and you know who I found there? It was the late Joe Fermill, then editor of the Pangasinan Courier, who was picked up ahead of me on his way to his The Courier’s office on Rivera Street.

I surmised that Joe was also arrested when he, too, questioned the mass arrests of students in an operation spearheaded by Col. Eduardo.

In the PC provincial command, it was like a sort of gathering of journalists, especially when Nestor Pulido arrived, his left hand hiding his teary eyes.

At that time, Jun Velasco, Manny Cornel, Fred Macaraeg and yes, Jimmy Lucas, who already joined his Creator (like Manny and Fred), had not been taken in.

Nestor said he was on board a Pantranco bus bound for his hometown Infanta to really escape martial law but along the way, the bus was flagged down. One sergeant manning a checkpoint recognized Nestor and asked him to alight.

As Joe Fermill and I were really not in the list but only happened to be there because we, as journalists, questioned the orders. It was then Assistant Provincial Commander, Lt. Col. Ernesto Venturina, who treated us not as detainees but as guests, eventually told us we could go home.  We became the first detainees to leave the PC stockade.

We bade goodbye to Nestor and Tony and told Nestor we would drop by and see Vic Millora in his house in Lucao to inform about his detention.

I am relating this story because of the Martial Law proclaimed in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte which I think is as not so harsh compared to the Marcos martial law in 1972 that arrested everyone opposed to his regime.

I doubt it there will be any mass arrest even if the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.

Probably, Mindanao is ripe for martial law with the many armed groups becoming more violent.

Law-abiding citizens should not be afraid of martial law. Only those who conspired with the armed bandits to spread terror in Mindanao should have a reason to fear.

Drawing from the traumatic experiences under the Marcos martial law, soldiers can be expected to be more civil and respectful of human rights.

Besides, the constitution provides that martial law can only be allowed for 60 days unless Congress extends it, unlike during Marcos time when the constitution did not prescribe any limitation on the period.

Also, unlike Da Apo’s one-man rule, martial law today allows for Congress and the Courts to continue to function as co-equal branches of the executive branch and no media will be shut down. This means the freedom of expression and of the press shall not be taken away from us unlike the 1972 martial law,

In Mindanao, the media is alive as shown by tons upon tons of news reports being sent by correspondents and reported by their outfits in Manila. (Incidentally, many of these reports are emanating from the fields where fighting is still going on). There is no censorship. –  Leonardo Micua


LESSONS IN EARTHQUAKE DRILLS — The 5.4 magnitude earthquake in Zambales we felt in Pangasinan Thursday night at 10:27 flooded my Facebook account with notifications and reactions from friends.

“Did you feel it?”, “Ang lakas”, “Let’s pray to God”, among others.

Of course, we are all afraid of earthquake and its devastation. I survived the 1990 powerful earthquake that destroyed Dagupan City.

I remember I was in the middle of A.B. Fernandez Avenue in Dagupan City to report to dwDw AM station where I worked at that time. I saw buildings tilt, their glass walls crack, water flowing like fountain in the middle of the streets.

I could not forget the bodies being lined up in front of a cinema while I was walking around the downtown area. It was really traumatic. Dagupan was literally war-torn. It was like the end of the world.

Then, little by little, the city rose from the rubbles as they say.

So every time we feel the earth shake, we are reminded of that nightmare in 1990 and we beg and pray to God it would not happen again.

I was reminded again of earthquakes when I took a brief vacation in Japan last week. No work, just vacation. (No, we were not part of the Pangasinan delegation invited by Japan International Cooperation Agency).

But Mayor Belen Fernandez invited us to join her and other Pangasinan officials led by Gov. Amado Espino Jr. in the last leg (also last day) of their official visit to Yokohama.

The JICA has chosen Pangasinan, out of the 81 provinces across the country, to pilot the GeoCloud Integrated Geographical Information System (GIS). GIS is an integrated geographic information system which mainly helps in the advancement of disaster prevention in the regions.

From Kawasaki City, we headed to Yokohama to join their trip before our scheduled flight back to the Philippines.

We were welcomed to Yokohama City Fire Bureau where we had some lessons about earthquake and how that city prepares for it.

Recall that the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku was a magnitude 9.0–9.1. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900, said a search made by this corner in Wikipedia.

At the Yokohama City Fire Bureau, we learned how the Japanese equip themselves with modern facilities, from its fire helicopter, fire boat, ambulance services, rescue troops, response teams, among others in case disaster strikes.

We were also made to experience a simulated earthquake with intensity 8. Nahilo ako dun ah.

In another lesson, we were taught proper use of fire extinguisher in case of fire, then we proceeded to a room where there was heavy smoke to learn what to do in case smoke fills a room during a disaster.

Another experience learned was inside another room, with everyone doing regular work, unaware of what would happen next, until a “strong earthquake” shook us. We were tested how we would react.

After surviving all the tests, I asked one Japanese official how we fared in our real-life tests and he replied, “Very good, very good!”

Earlier, I heard one Pangasinan town official talk about the Philippines being 20 years behind Japan in terms of technology, another said “It’s 50 years”. Still another said “It’s 100 years.

Of course, to say 100 years lagging behind is exaggeration, the group protested. “Tama na ang 20 years, okay na tayo dun,” the guv intoned. The consensus was reached.

On our return flight, I wondered. How prepared are we when a strong earthquake strikes?

Yes, we have our earthquake drills. But do we take them seriously?— Eva Visperas

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