A most important and historic document, Proclamation No. 1081, contained the formal proclamation of Martial Law in the Philippines by President Ferdinand Marcos. It was signed on September 23, 1972, then back dated to September 21, 1972, but only announced to the public on September 23, 1972. The document outlines the rationale for the declaration of Martial Law, stating that “there is throughout the land a state of anarchy and lawlessness, chaos and disorder, turmoil and destruction of a magnitude equivalent to an actual war.”

This proclamation marked the beginning of the authoritarian rule of President Marcos, which lasted for 14 years. Marcos assumed powers essentially as a dictator as he declared, “in my capacity as their commander-in-chief, do hereby command the armed forces of the Philippines, to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well as any act of insurrection or rebellion and to enforce obedience to all the laws and decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.”

With Proclamation No. 1081, President Marcos then signed several General Orders and Letters of Instruction that cemented his authoritarian powers, which included arresting persons without due process, suspending the writ of habeas corpus, curtailing the freedom of the press, prohibiting strikes and mass actions, among others. This proclamation also stopped the democratic process allowing him to rule the Philippines, essentially without legitimate Elections and opposition, until his ouster in 1986.