The yearly commemoration of the imposition of martial law is always an occasion for critics to compare President Rodrigo Duterte with former President Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the country for two decades.
It is also the time to raise the fact that a third of the nation was placed under military rule and still is under Mr. Duterte.
The claim is that the past is being revived through the recent move of Mr. Duterte on Mindanao.
A big difference, however, lies in the character of the two martial laws in which the first under Marcos was remembered for its many instances of repression while that in Mindanao is being put into good use in making the region secure amid threats from terrorist extremism.
The other contrast relates to public support. While the measure in the past was mainly pushed by the military and the police brass with modest support from the public, Mindanao under military rule gets the biggest backing from the residents who are enjoying an unprecedented sense of security.
In both cases, however, history would show that the declarations were necessary to preserve the exercise of democracy.
Palace spokesman Sal Panelo said, “It is only when it is clothed with abuse by its enforcers that it (martial law) becomes obnoxious.”
It can even be argued that its application would require an extreme exercise of political will to save the country from ruin.