Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc had the balls to look at the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the face and tell him off, after he inaugurated himself as president for the nth time.
I am reprinting below the piece that got her fired from Panorama magazine, that inspired other writers to carry on the fight. She is gone now, but her fighting spirit lives on. This piece, along with the explanation is from The Philippine Press UNDER SIEGE, published by the National Press Club and Committee to Protect Writers in 1984, when it had become even more dangerous to fight the regime.
I am also reprinting this piece to give the post-martial law generation an idea of how repressive a one-man rule is. When a man promises to fight drugs, criminality etc. on condition that you totally surrender your freedoms to him, that is a warning that he wants to impose a dictatorship. Beware of such politicians who promise to deliver a crime-free society on condition that he alone will decide everything for you and me.
The day after this article came out in Panorama magazine on July 12, 1981, three high-ranking government officials wrote Panorama publisher Hans Menzi threatening libel or subversion charges.
Comelec chairman Vicente M. Santiago, Jr. wrote that Letty’s statements about the Comelec “are utterly malicious, false and unfounded and directly tend to insult, ridicule and discredit an independent constitutional body if not the entire electoral processes, and more specifically, tend to cast doubts and malign the character, reputation, honor and integrity of its Chairman and individual Members, both in their official and private capacities.”
He also said that the article “has wittingly or unwittingly placed the Bulletin Today in the category of a subversive instrument against the present government,” adding that “Before we go to court, to seek redress, we are giving you an opportunity of publicly rectifying the libelous statements in question in the next issue of the Panorama,without prejudice to or the filing of actions for contempt, libel and damages.”
Justice Minister Ricardo Puno wrote that “the entire tenor” of Magsanoc’s article “impeaches the President’s integrity and capability as a person and a leader and thus holds him up to public contempt and ridicule.”
Minister Puno also reminded Menzi that “The law punishes acts which incite or tend to incite rebellion or sedition or the undermining in any manner of the faith and confidence of the people in their Government and/or its duly constituted authorities. It condemns seditious writings and the circulation of scurrilous libels against the Government or any of the duly constituted authorities thereof or those which tend to instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes, or which tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community or the safety and order of the Government.”
The Justice Minister ended with a warning that unless “commensurate and positive steps are taken to rectify the wrong resulting from the publication of the article. . . . the Government will be left with no other alternative but to seek vindication and redress pursuant to law.”
Minister of Local Governments Jose Rono wrote Menzi in his capacity as KBL secretary-general. His letter said: “It was indeed unfortunate that you allowed such a meaningful and historic event as the birth of the New Republic to be narrated with such a sarcastic tone and cavalier conceit, embellishing your account of the June 30 inauguration with seething mockery. . . I strongly suggest that you disassociate yourself and your publication from this sad article on the lnauguration.”
On the same day Menzi received these letters, Letty was forced to resign as Panorama editor, the first casualty in media after the lifting of martial law.
There Goes the New Society,
Welcome the New Republic
Bv LETTY JIMENEZ-MAGSANOC
How about lunch tomorrow? Can’t. Let’s go after The lnauguration. I am in great pain, doc, when do I have my operation? As soon as The lnauguration is over. What about going away with me for the weekend? No way, wait till after The lnauguration. What about school? After
The. . .
Even the weather held back its fury; typhoon Daling dilly dallied over Southern Luzon; the winds and the rains lashed at the city only in the afternoon after the morning of The lnauguration of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos as president of the Republic of the Philippines. “That’s one thing I can say about Marcos,” said a non-Marcos believer but a true believer of Amado Pineda’s weather forecast and had come to the inaugural rites burdened with a raincoat and an umbrella, “he certainly can control the
In fact President Marcos has been in total control of the country for the past 16 years. lnaugurated as the eighth president of the republic (not counting Ouezon and Osmena who were presidents of the Commonwealth under American tutelage), Marcos was also its sixth and seventh president. Those who are 30 years old today have known only one President throughout their lifetime and that is Marcos. He has been elected to a six-year term. Though the amended 1973 Constitution is silent on reelection, the April 7 plebiscite noted that reelection “is a matter for the people to decide”. Shortly before, the June 16 elections, the President expressed a tinge of disappointment as he said that a survey among 18-year-olds revealed that “they don’t know that I have been a soldier’ They only know me as their president. Nothing else.”
Again, on that bright balmy (even the sun tempered its heat when the Marcoses arrived) morning of June 30, he took the oath of the presidential office administered by Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, before 28 state visitors to the inaugural headed by US Vice President George Bush and an estimated one million people at the Rizal Park (typically a cool government newscaster spewing “monumental” and “historic” over the airwaves had escalated the figure to five million).
ln turn, the thrice-inaugurated president inaugurated the New Republic during his inaugural address that lasted for about 18 minutes. Punctuated with ringing phrases reminiscent of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speeches, it heralded renewal of purpose, unity, optimism and change – from the New Society (Whatever happened to that? ) to the New Republic. “Today, we proclaim here the birth of a new republic; new in structure and character, and ordained to preside over a new time of ferment and change in our national life. . . This is the vision of rebirth that we hold out to the nation today – of a new people and a new government that will be stable, strong and capable of leading the way to the national future,” the President proclaimed. (Giveaway t-shirts echoed the newness: “a new mandate, a new republic, a new destiny.”)
But with the economy appallingly inadequate and the mounting cries against cronyism, political corruption in high and all places people waited to hold on to something more tangible than abstract ideals and soaring rhetoric on rebirth and the New Republic. It came toward the end of the President’s speech and it made the single strongest point of an otherwise uninspired inaugural address. The President said: “There is no injustice that we cannot eradicate, no corruption that we cannot extirpate, no hardship or crisis that we cannot surmount. . .”
But it seemed not enough from a man who is both writer and scholar (authored books on Today’s Revolution: Democracy, Notes on the New Society of the Philippines and the continuing series on Tadhana: The History of the Filipino People); from a man to whom words come easy in flowing abundance; of whom it cannot be said that he’s a prisoner of the clever pens of clever men. When then Vice-President Mondale at a dinner in his honor in Malacanang stood up to give his remarks following President Marcos’ speech he said it was extremely difficult to follow a man whose ‘eloquence and brilliance” had impressed him when he first heard President Marcos address a joint ‘session of the US Congress. To accentuate the praise, Mondale had then read his prepared speech; the President
had spoken extemporaneously and dazzled with his perceptive grasp of history and foreign affairs.
Despite the President’s commanding presence, his inaugural address was not unlike an entry in an oratorical contest of “l Speak for Democracy”.
If one sat entranced during the inaugural address, it was because it was delivered by a man who is considered today to be no less than the world’s most powerful president.
First elected in’65, he won re-election in ’69, the only Filipino president thus far to win a second term. Before his term ended in 1973, he proclaimed martial law in September, 1972 and ruled by decree until
January, 1981. By that time, President Marcos did not need the sweeping, unchecked powers that martial law conferred on him. Amendments to the 1973 Constitution proposed and approved in a referendum in 1976 included the controversial Amendment 6 that empowers the President/Prime Minister (as Marcos had both titles then) to override the lnterim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National Assembly “for any reason that in his judgment requires immediate action.” And soon came a confusing flurry of decrees, proclamations and executive orders, the most widely criticized being the Public Order Act issued last September and now “part of the law of the land” as are all presidential decrees.
The act provides that “whenever in the judgment” of the President, a grave emergency threatens or exists he can order the restriction of the ”movement and other activities of persons and entities with a view to preventing them from acting in a manner prejudicial to national security or the maintenance of public order.” The order includes but is not limited to preventive detention of persons suspected of acting in a manner “prejudicial” . . . etc. The restrictions range from closure of media considered subversive to banning entertainment to controlling school admissions. ln pursuance of this decree, the president can issue search warrants “for the seizure of any document or property subject of the offense or used or intended to be used as the means of committing the offense.”
Today, President Marcos holds the powers bestowed on a head of state from both the 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions reinforced by the 1976 and 1981 amendments. Yet with all the awesome powers at his disposal, he needed, he said, to go before the people “to be judged” on his performance in office for 16 consecutive years. “l want a mandate” he often repeated after the “yes” win in the April 7 plebiscite that changed the structure of government from a parliamentary to a semi-parliamentary system with full powers of government vested in the president where they had once been the prime minister’s before the approval of further amendments to the ’73 Constitution. One of the plebiscite questions that won the electorate’s nod asked: “Do you want the president to be directly elected by the people?’ Elections was set by the National Assembly on June 16. Marcos with all the built-in advantages of an incumbent plus the disarray of the supposedly United Opposition and his inept if not outright weird rivals (12 altogether) won 87 per cent of the votes. The Opposition’s boycott strategy suffered a resounding numerical defeat but claimed a “clear moral victory”.
The conduct of the plebiscites before and after martial law and the presidential election itself has been marked by suspicions of connivance, corruption and dishonest counting of votes by the Comelec.
But this is past history, whether glorious or disgraceful. And history is full of unanswered questions and unresolved suspicions. But these are but threads in the entire fabric of history though at the moment they choke our credibility and visions and strangle the freedoms, even the lives of those who are behind bars without charges or trial because they believe in an alternative course to history. But for now, let it be – let the threads dangle where they might; let loose ends hang untied. These all will come to pass; these all will fit whether coarsely or smoothly into the whole cloth of history when it presents its ultimate mandate.
With the people’s mandate (believe that or not) behind him, President Marcos has set off the signals flashing to restructure society; to eradicate corruption and injustice under the New Republic; and to redeem his campaign pledge to “go after erring officials, friend or foe”. That Marcos’ campaign slogan “There’s no substitute for victory” did not create an impact on the populace (only in the coffee shop circuit where wags and wits went to town with it) is indicative of the rising national expectation of a clean government. After the inaugural, someone suggested that for starters, Marcos in a dramatic display of the seriousness of purpose of his goals in the New Republic, publicly burn the effigies of his corrupt cronies, those who have been called “smarter than others” at the expense of others and the national economy. “It takes something like that to instantly restore public confidence in governments.” that someone added. It’s true. The first task of the New Republic is to restore public confidence in government. Only Marcos can do it. When Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural address, it was 1933, a period of the most cruel depression winter in American-history. One editorial writer asked, “Why don’t they smash windows? Why don’t they go and get it?” The answer to that question was that the people were waiting for what the new President Roosevelt had to say to them, what he had to-offer them. He succeeded. Though President Marcos’ inaugural address disappoints because of its verbose generalities, it is in the final analysis, only words, words, and more words. The verbiage still holds out a promise of action. Performance is the test of the New Republic. Will there be a “new government” after the inaugural? Only President Marcos can tell, only he can make or break a truly new Republic. It is not true as that elder statesman Lorenzo Tanada has said in a speech before the Manila Rotary Club that Marcos is the country’s number one problem.
The problem is a Marcos who with all his powers is powerless before corruption and the corruptors. lt is a Marcos astride the same tired tiger (the discarded and discredited New Society) carrying on under a different name, the New Republic. If that continues, the Filipino docile as he has been as the carabao these 16 years cannot but give way and tear at the Republic, whatever the kind.
When Duterte asked the people of Davao City to follow the city rules. did he imposed Martial Law? for 15 years fire-cracker ban has been well-implemented. No-smoking in public places was implemented and people follow without Martial rule. It will be no different if by chance he becomes president. He said there is no need for Martial Law if he becomes president and I believe him because he has done it in Davao. Martial Law is for those leaders who wants to perpetuate themselves in power and grab as many wealth as they can while in power as experienced.
Problem with Duterte, we are not supposed to take his word for anything he says, like “blood will flow”, I will abolish Congress…
So what are we to believe?
imo, mahirap ko nang paniwalaan pa muli si dutz.
marami nang nangyari.
marami nang nasabi.
iba naman pag meyor lang kaysa pangulo.
ang meyor, sumablay man, may governor ka pang matatakbuhan.
pag si digong na ang pangulo, sino pang tatakbuhan natin?
mahirap nang paniwalaan ang taong nagpakita na ng pagsisinungaling.
paiba-iba na siya ang mga sinasabi.
Alexander Wartz says
NO MORE MARCOS PLEASE !
to all CPMers and Marshall Law babies: i have goosebumps every time i play this video made out of the first EDSA Revolution. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooGtSV7UafI. credit to Jim Paredes of APO.
Thanks for this, taurusius.
Why do you have such a difficult handle to spell? What does it mean?
Dyak Rayan says
“Error loading link”
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn.
Why still want that kind of regime
Why elect a man who is clear in
He will impose MARTIAL LAW?
But then I guess the ghosts of
The past still wonder around
Thus chained forever
Hadhad Partylist says
Journalism, in the last analysis, its a balance between “CRAFT” and “BUSINESS.” You cannot trade your craft if you do not have patrons (at least according to the reality on the ground). The trick of the business is to churn out your paper without biting the hands that feeds you. Ironic? Hypocrisy? That’s called reality in those days…. How about now?
In fairness to Gen. Menzi, I think he was only pressured to force LJM to resign because of the article.
Remember that he was also the publisher (WHO magazine) ?, a lifestyle magazine which slowly transformed into a political magazine during the early 80s.
In fac t, there was a joke during that time that Menzi is a closet supporter of the opposition as that magazine published by Liwayway publications contain articles critical of Marcos.
Until LJM was forced to resign and Menzi has to toe the Marcos line.
Aside from that, it was a period of infighting inside Bulletin Today due to editorial, management and labor problems.
And in my opinion, it hastened the forced resignation of LJM.
Still, LJM was really an epitome of
Irineo B. R. Salazar says
http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/riding-the-tiger/ – the press today, and the tragedy of the Inquirer no longer being the beacon it once was, is also mentioned in this article which closes the year in my blog…
Rio Locsin wearing only a long shirt is my best memory of Panorama, I guess that was after Magsanoc.
The Philippine Panorama, which was the Sunday magazine of Bulletin Today, was a beacon of press freedom during the years when media was either controlled or intimidated by government. And holding fort as Editor-in-Chief was Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. She held her ground, wrote what others would not even dare think or speak for fear of retribution, until she was finally forced to resign after a biting write-up on the New Republic of Ferdinand Marcos.
She then went on to be one of the moving forces of the “mosquito press” that defied government censorship during the tumultuous final years of the Marcos regime. She went to war with her pen as her sword, and proved that words can slay dragons. She was a class on her own.
That era of press freedom, that which comes with great responsibility, passion, dedication and nobility of purpose, has of late become a hazy part of our history. Today’s media panders to the sensational, the inane and whatever power and money can buy. In a way, Letty’s reward is that she left this world before she sees the profession she loved and served so well completely go down to the dogs.
Goodbye, Ms Jimenez-Magsanoc, keeper of the flame, icon of journalistic integrity and peerless defender of the free press. May your life and work inspire those who follow in your storied steps.
I like the above four-paragraphs as a very heart-warming eulogy in honor of Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. – Den
Waray waray says
thank you @ Den for the beautiful eulogy. So very well said. And probably express the sentiments of our generation..
i liked the article “There Goes the New Society, Welcome the New Republic,
by LETTY JIMENEZ-MAGSANOC”
likewise, i liked what @Den wrote about LJM above. well said.
Salamat Raissa for sharing this. I grew up hearing this song all over. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxy7RkZSWck . Dahil isang uhuging bata palang ako nung panahong iyon, ang hindi ko makakalimutan ay ang ipagbawal ni Marcos ang Voltes V tv series dahil napaka violent daw nito. Kaya ngayon I am wondering how a self declared dictator in the person of Duterte can capture so much attention and support. Tapos si Bongbong ay kumakatok din sa pintuan ng kapangyarihan as VP. Parang wala talaga tayong natutunan sa isang madilim na bahagi ng ating kasaysayan. Nagtataka rin ako sa pananahimik ng NUJP at ng NPC sa alleged claim na pagpatay sa 3 journalist na naglayong i expose si Duterte. Is this a silent declaration of support to Duterte by these groups? Mayor pa lang iyan nagawa nya na yan. Paano pa kung maging Presidente sya.
Mayor pa lang iyan nagawa nya na yan. Paano pa kung maging Presidente sya. . . . martial_law_baby asked this question.
The answer: is ‘President’ Duterte will be the country’s number one problem, like as originally spoken by elder stateman Lorenzon Tanada on Marcos, below –
‘It is not true as that elder statesman Lorenzo Tanada has said in a speech before the Manila Rotary Club that Marcos is the country’s number one problem.’ (Ed. in Ch of PANORAMA – LJM above article)
Candidate Duterte is likened also to Marcos: speaks of ‘verbose generalities. It is in the final analysis, only words, words, and more words. The verbiage still holds out a promise of action. ‘
If he does what he speak, he will be the country’s number one problem. If he does not do it, again, he will be the country’s number one problem.
Either way, he looks like he is already now the country’s number one problem candidate.
Ms Babes says
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn.
Why still want that kind of regime
Why elect a man who is clear in
He will impose MARTIAL LAW?
But then I guess the ghosts of
The past still wonder around
Thus chained forever
Vhin AB says
Ang ipagbabawal ng susunod na diktador ay ang FB, Instagram, YouTube at iba pa na puwedeng kumontra at mag expose ng kabulukan. Hindi kayang i-handle ang kritisismo kaya yung mga nagtanggol sa kanya sa FB etc at nagsasabing di na raw bale na maging diktador ang tyak na unang aaray. “Well, u got what u were looking for, stupid kids” ang tangi kong masasabi.
why would you compare Duterte sa nasirang si Marcos
imulat naman natin ang mga mata natin…sa panahon ng mga tumangkilik sa Yellow movement hindi ba mas maraming pinatay at namatay na mga journalist!
looking back and Davao City ay dating ‘killing field’ mga pulis nakabulagta…mga tao takot!…ditto ngayon respected ang mga pulis may 911…and we respect ang buhay ng tao ditto!…btw I am originally from Zambales…pero niyakap ko na ang Davao kasi kasing safe din siya ng Olongapo City! Remember Dick Gordon was also a ‘strong leaderp’ nalinis niya from SIN city to Scene City ang Gapo!
Iba ayaw ng strong leader kasi ayaw nilang sumunod… martial law baby din po ako!!!
I will answer you next year.
What courage. What balls. Incomparable. LJM we owe you!!!
David Sta. Maria says
A debt that can only be repayed forward.
Yes, we owe her. Bravo, LJM.
Sec. Abad says ‘Ask Congress if there is any PORK in the 2016 Nat’l Budget.’
here goes – one lawmaker gives this –
‘Taking up the cudgels for his colleagues in Congress, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said there is nothing wrong with lawmakers allotting funds for farm-to-market roads, financial assistance to indigent patients and students and workers’ training.
“They can call those appropriations ‘pork,’ but they are intended for our poor people. They do not go to our pockets,” he said.’
There is nothing wrong lawmakers alloting funds – He (lawmaker too) can call it PORK – we can call it PORK also. So what if PORK is for poor people? (Basta there is PORK, pork pa rin.)
Whether there is PORK or not, Congress cannot be interferred by the Executive Dept. Only Congress loves PORK.
Summa total: There is still PORK (reading from this news report) So, what’s new? None. Still PORK abound for, by and of Congress lawmfakers.
‘They do not go to our pockets’ . . . said lawmaker.
Yea, PORK goes to your deposits!
Can anybody believe this lawmaker?
Let’s all piss-off!
The 2016 P3-trillion national budget contains pork in abundance to feed the hungry crocodiles of congress – and what else is new under the daang matuwid despite the SC declaring the PDAF/DAP funds unconstitutional?
Kalahari . . . More ‘newer’ hocus-focus’ on ‘How To Eat That Pork’ from the 2016 P3-trillion Nat’l Budget!
Back to the Roman empire, middle ages
Before election time he will ”burn” out him self i guess…
Would anybody believe ‘Anything Ghosts Under Marcos’? Except God appearing in the ‘New Society’. . .
Could have been titled ‘There Ghosts the New Society’. . .
. . . in the final or end of things such as the Marcos Regime, the pen was much stronger than the dictator Ferdinand M. Marcos, – Letty Jimenez Magsanoc.
She left us but with a burning light-reminder to KEEP UP THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION in all its forms. RIP Ma’m Letty Jimenez Magsanoc. Thanks and many thanks. And Rest in Peace.
Yet, her fight has not ended yet. It continues. . . the corruptions goes on. Why is that? Is it because there are more corrupts effectiively sickening the people?
i was in high school then. it was the time when the sunday bulletin was without it’s companion magazine panorama only to reappear the following week. only letty jimenez magsanoc was no longer the editor in chief and there was no explanation for the replacement. and to think martial law was already “lifted” during those times.