(UST Rector Fr. Leonardo Legaspi, O.P.’s message to students after Martial Law, published on The Varsitarian’s November 22, 1972 issue)


On September 21, 1972, the President declared a state of National Emergency and imposed Martial Law “to save the Republic and to form a New Society.” Under Proclamation No. 1081, a series of Orders, Decrees, and Regulations were issued with far-reaching effects on the academic community, the most immediate of which was the temporary closing of all schools since September 25, 1972. 

Schools have been permitted to open under certain conditions. The most important of these is the requirement that school administrators will assume the responsibility for the maintenance of peace and order and the enforcement of various emergency regulations within their respective campuses. The penalties for failure are severe, and they include the closing of the schools. 

In view of the changed realities, a reexamination of the University’s commitment and goals is called for. The basic goal of the University, according to its Statutes, is “Reaffirming its commitment to the development of a progressive and truly human society through the preparation of its students for mature and responsible citizenship, this University declares that it is its purpose to impart, cultivate and promote the sciences, both sacred and civil, in the light of reason illumined by the Catholic faith; to perfect the moral formation of its students and to provide them with a fuller knowledge of Christian doctrine.” This goal has not been affected by the present situation, and every student is urged to renew this commitment to the achievement of this goal. 

As announced by the President, the goals for the New Society are the very same goals that every Filipino ardently desires and earnestly hopes someday to be fulfilled. Certainly, they are no different from the ideas that many students uphold when they took to the streets and demand sweeping reforms. They are supremely worthwhile goals, and the University of Santo Tomas is fully committed to their fulfillment. 

The University likewise understands and accepts the grave responsibility that has been placed in its hands in insuring compliance, within its jurisdictions, with all Orders, Decrees, and Regulations as consequence of Proclamation No. 1081. To assume this grave responsibility, it has been given considerable powers. Please be assured that we will wield these powers wisely, fairly, and only when necessary. 

The state of National Emergency and Martial Law is a reality that we must all learn to live with. Its immediate impact would be on these activities of a political nature which heretofore have tended to disrupt your schooling. Now, with those disruptive factors eliminated, every student can now rededicate himself for a meaningful and constructive role in the New Society. This rededication should take the form of a more rigorous concentration on his academic studies. 

The Martial Law proclamation and the consequent implementing Orders, Decrees, and Regulations prohibit or regulate many of the activities which heretofore had been taken for granted on the campus. Today, the University is not only required to enforce these various prohibitions, it also faces severe penalties—including permanent closure—in case it fails. Consequently, I have directed all Deans, Regents, Directors, Heads of Faculties, and all Administrative Heads to prepare for my approval the required detailed implementing of instructions for your information and guidance. 

Kindly read them carefully and comply faithfully with these instructions. 

It is possible that you may think that Martial Law is a drastic measure. But you will also admit that the situation before September 21, 1972 was an extraordinary one requiring extraordinary remedies. Proclamation No. 1081 has provided us with the avenue for such remedies, and I ask you now, most earnestly to regard it, not as an obstacle but as a challenge—a challenge to all of us to redirect our energies towards goals that are relevant, constructive, and attainable. Today the reforms that we ardently yearned for are within our grasp. We must not let them escape us by our failure to meet the challenge squarely. 

Fr. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P.


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