Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Proclamation No. 1081

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Territorial extent  Philippines
Date enacted  September 21, 1972
Enacted by  Ferdinand Marcos
Date signed  September 23, 1972

Proclamation № 1081 was the proclamation of Martial Law in the Philippines by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was announced to the public on 23 September 1972, and was formally lifted on 17 January 1981.



At the height of armed communist insurgency in the Philippines, Philippine Military Academy instructor Lt Victor Corpuz led New People's Army rebels in a raid on the PMA armory, capturing rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, a bazooka and thousands of rounds of ammunition in 1970. In 1972, China, which was then actively supporting and arming communist insurgencies in Asia as part of Mao Zedong's People's War Doctrine, transported 1,200 M-14 and AK-47 rifles for the NPA to speed up NPA's campaign to defeat the government. Prior to the 1975, the Philippine government maintained a close relationship with the Kuomintang-ruled Chinese government which fled to Taiwan (Republic of China), despite the Chinese Communist Victory in 1949, and saw the People's Republic of China as a security threat due to its financial and military support of Communist rebels in the country.

Citing an intensifying Communist insurgency, a series of bombings, and the controversial assassination attempt on then-Defense Minister (now Senator) Juan Ponce Enrile, President Marcos enacted the Proclamation which enabled him to rule by military power.

He initially signed the Proclamation on 17 September 1972, but it was postdated to 21 September because of his superstitions and numerological beliefs concerning the number seven. Marcos formally announced the Proclamation in a live television and radio broadcast from Malacañang Palace a further two days later on the evening of 23 September 1972.

Martial law was ratified by 90.77% of the voters during the Philippine Martial Law referendum, 1973 though the referendum was marred with controversy.

After the constitution was approved by 95% of the voters in the Philippine constitutional plebiscite, the 1935 Constitution was replaced with a new one that changed the system of government from a presidential to a parliamentary one, with Marcos remaining in power as both head of state (with the title "President") and head of government (titled "Prime Minister"). Under the new government, President Marcos formed his political coalition–the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL; English: New Society Movement)–control the unicameral legislature he created, known as the Batasang Pambansa.

In an effort to isolate the local communist movement, President Marcos went to China in 1975 to normalize diplomatic relations. In return for recognizing the People's Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, and that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai pledged to stop supporting the Philippine communist rebels.

The government subsequently captured NPA leaders Bernabe Buscayno in 1976 and Jose Maria Sison in 1977. The Washington Post in an interview with former Philippine Communist Party Officials, revealed that, "they (local communist party officials) wound up languishing in China for 10 years as unwilling "guests" of the (Chinese) government, feuding bitterly among themselves and with the party leadership in the Philippines".

President Marcos formally lifted Martial Law on 17 January 1981, several weeks before the first pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines for the beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz. After the lifting of Martial Law, the CPP-NPA was able to return to urban areas and form relationships with legal opposition organizations, and became increasingly successful attacks against the government throughout the country. The violence inflicted by the communists reached its peak in 1985 with 1,282 military and police deaths and 1,362 civilian deaths.

Incidents in Proclamation № 1081

Based on interviews of The Washington Post with former Communist Party of the Philippines Officials, it was revealed that "the (Communist) party leadership planned – and three operatives carried out – the (Plaza Miranda) attack in an attempt to provoke government repression and push the country to the brink of revolution... (Communist Party) Chairman Sison had become convinced by early 1971 – less than three years after the party was founded – that it would take only a well-timed incident to spark a great upheaval leading to an early Communist victory. Sison had calculated that Marcos could be provoked into cracking down on his opponents, thereby driving thousands of political activists into the underground, the former party officials said. Recruits were urgently needed, they said, to make use of a large influx of weapons and financial aid that China had already agreed to provide."

General orders

General Order № 1 - The President proclaimed that he shall direct the entire government, including all its agencies and instrumentalities, and exercise all powers of his office including his role as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

General Order № 2 – The President directed the Minister of National Defense to arrest or cause the arrest and take into his custody the individuals named in the attached list and to hold them until otherwise so ordered by the President or by his duly designated representative, as well as to arrest or cause the arrest and take into his custody and to hold them otherwise ordered released by him or by his duly authorized representative such persons who may have committed crimes described in the Order.

General Order № 3 – The President ordered that all executive departments, bureaus, offices, agencies and instrumentalities of the National Government, government owned or controlled corporations, as well all governments of all the provinces, cities, municipalities and barrios should continue to function under their present officers and employees, until otherwise ordered by the President or by his duly designated representatives. The President further ordered that the Judiciary should continue to function in accordance with its present organization and personnel, and should try to decide in accordance with existing laws all criminal and civil cases, except certain cases enumerated in the Order.

General Order № 4 – The President ordered that a curfew be maintained and enforced throughout the Philippines from twelve o’clock midnight until four o’clock in the morning.

General Order № 5 – All rallies, demonstrations and other forms of group actions including strikes and picketing in vital industries such as in companies engaged in manufacture or processing as well as in production or processing of essential commodities or products for exports, and in companies engaged in banking of any kind, as well as in hospitals and in schools and colleges are prohibited.

General Order № 6 – No person shall keep, possess or carry outside of his residence any firearm unless such person is duly authorized to keep, possess or carry any such firearm except to those who are being sent abroad in the service of the Philippines.


Proclamation No. 1081 Wikipedia