Today in Philippine History, January 17, 1981, President Ferdinand E. Marcos lifted martial law

Monday January 16, 2012 ()

On January 17, 1981, President Ferdinand E. Marcos lifted martial law which he declared nationwide on September 21, 1972 through Proclamation No. 1081.

Citing the rising wave of lawlessness and the threat of a communist insurgency as justification, Marcos issued the proclamation which curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, closed down Congress and media establishments, and caused the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including staunchest critics then Senators Benigno Aquino Jr., Jovito Salonga and Jose Diokno. Many other political opponents were forced to go into exile overseas.

   Martial Law declaration
   Sunday Express issue of September 24, 1972 announcing the declaration of martial law.
By virtue of Proclamation No. 2045, Marcos lifted the state of martial law to show the Filipino people and the world that the situation in the Philippines was back to normal and that the 1973 Constitution and the government were working smoothly.

The termination of the state of martial law throughout the Philippines has the following conditions:

That the call to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insurrection, rebellion and subversion shall continue to be in force and effect; and

That in the two autonomous regions in Mindanao, upon the request of the residents therein, the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall continue; and in all other places the suspension of the privilege of the writ shall also continue with respect to persons at present detained as well as others who may hereafter be similarly detained for the crimes of insurrection or rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and for all other crimes and offenses committed by them in furtherance or on the occasion thereof, or incident thereto, or in connection therewith.

(The lifting of the Martial Law on January 17, 1981)

General Order No. 8 which empowered the Chief of Staff to create military tribunals, was also revoked and the military tribunals created by that order were dissolved "upon final determination of cases pending therein which may not be transferred to the civil courts without irreparable prejudice to the state in view of the rules on double jeopardy, or other circumstances which render further prosecution of the cases difficult, if not impossible".

It was also declared (in accordance with the constitution) that:

All proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, and acts promulgated, issued or done by the incumbent President constitute part of the law of the land, and shall remain valid, legal, binding, and effective even after lifting of martial law, unless modified, revoked, or superseded by subsequent proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, or other acts of the incumbent President, or unless expressly and explicitly modified or repealed by the regular National Assembly.


  1. Philippine News Agency archives
  2. Proclamation No. 2045, s. 1981, Official Gazzete of the Office of the President
  3. Video: Youtube channel of the Presidential Museum and Library


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