Non-profit org seeks contributors to expand database of ‘Martial Law Index’

October 13, 2023 - 6:04 PM
A bookstore owner shows a page of a book containing a newspaper clipping of the declaration of martial law, in Manila, Philippines, May 19, 2022. Picture taken May 19, 2022. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

A non-profit organization is inviting the public to help expand its “Martial Law Index” dedicated to curating data during the nine-year Martial Law era.

Developh on Monday, October 9 announced that it had updated the index, sharing a glimpse of its website through a short video.

“The Martial Law Index is a curation of resources and materials concerning the Dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ rule and the 1972—1981 martial law period,” it said on a social media post.

“Aimed at aggregating work from citizen archiving initiatives and alternative online sources (e.g. Google Drive folk archives), the index is yet another gesture towards better presenting [and] preserving artifacts from the period in a more legible domain,” it added.

Developh said the Martial Law Index was launched in May 2022 “in response to faulty access of government martial law documents and an ongoing culture of disinformation, repression, and revisionism.”

The org also said the public can help expand the Martial Law Index database by the following:

  • Submit new entries on anytime by accomplishing a Google Form
  • Volunteer to maintain the database and add more materials, metadata and tags
  • Contribute curated selections of materials and accompanying annotations

Developh said those who are interested may send them a message through their social media account or shoot them an email at [email protected]

The org has a Facebook and an account on the X (formerly Twitter) platform.

The Martial Law Index is its way of “curating [and] mirroring [government] papers, documentaries, scholarly papers, and the like from and on the Martial Law era.”

“While drive links, Facebook posts, threads, and the like are being circulated — they oft lack context, curation, and mirrors. We wanted to integrate existing libraries [or] materials and create a replicable website that can also be rehosted and copied,” the org said in a Facebook post in 2022.

“We are missing lots of documents and are looking to grow our archive, annotate mindfully, and expand with other collections,” Developh added.

Martial Law was imposed by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. from 1972 to 1981 in a bid to supposedly quell communist insurgency and restore order, but critics said it was declared to extend his presidential term.

The nine-year period saw curfews being imposed, public assemblies being forbidden and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, a legal remedy that protects citizens from unlawful arrests and indefinite detentions.

Martial Law also saw the curtailment of civil rights and liberties, prevalence of extrajudicial killings and unsolved disappearances, media suppression and economic recession, among others.

It was also during this period when the word “salvage,” which originally means to save, became part of the local language to denote extralegal killings.

London-based human rights organization Amnesty Organization said that “some 70,000 people were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured; over 3,200 people were killed” in its imposition.