Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. He was nearing the end of his second term as President of the Republic of the Philippines and could not run for a further term. Declaring Martial Law enabled him to stay in power indefinetly.
Immediately Martial Law was declared many people who had been clamoring for change went underground. Many of those who didn’t were picked up and imprisoned. Others were killed or disappeared. It was clear that the dictatorship would not tolerate any opposition.
Any meeting of three or more people was immediately suspect and people could be arrested under suspicion of trying to overthrow the regime. Permission had to be got by any group eg. unions, farmers organizations etc wanting to have a meeting which was then subject to monitoring by the regime.
The only institution that had tha freedom to gather people without interference was the Church. In such a situation many priests and religious took on the task of helping the poor come together under Church protection and eencourage them to do something about their situation.
This is how the Kristianong Katilingban (KK) or Christian Community was born, grew and flourished in this vacuum created by Martial Law. Community building/organizing became a major task of some parishes in progressive dioceses, especially in Mindanao and Visayas.
What also became apparent was that most of the poor lacked the confidence in themselves to bring about change in their lives. So hand in hand with community building, awareness of their human dignity was developed through seminars and small community actions. Slowly the members of the KKs grew in confidence and took on larger actions in defence of their land and lives. The regime reacted to the non violent actions of the KKs by accusings the priests of being violent people and supporting the rebels. The regime was more afraid of the non violence of the KKs than the violence of the rebels (New Peoples Army). The KKs had to be neutralised. The case of the Negros Nine was one way for the dictatorship’s to stop the non violent actions of the poor in Negros from securing a better life for themselves and from challenging the status quo.
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