As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, posts a series of testimonies from human rights victims of the Marcos regime. Thousands of Filipinos were murdered, tortured, or disappeared in the 14 years the country was under a dictatorship.

After the fall of the Marcos regime in 1986, close to 10,000 human rights victims – the survivors themselves or their families – filed a class suit against the Marcos estate. A US district court in Hawaii ruled in January 1995 that the victims are entitled to a share of the ill-gotten wealth recovered from the Marcoses: a total of $2.7 billion for their torment and torture.   

However, the legal victory remains only on paper. The Hawaii ruling has to be enforced in the Philippines by a local court. The Makati Regional Trial Court is currently hearing the case but the Marcoses have so far been successful in blocking compensation to the plaintiffs.

So far, only $10 million, or $1,000 each, has been awarded to the victims and their kin. The money is not even part of the $2.7-billion compensatory and exemplary damages awarded by the Hawaii court but is from a settlement with Marcos crony, Jose Yao Campos, who has real estate properties in Texas and Colorado.

MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS | 'After he was lured back to the Philippines, he disappeared' 1

This narrative is from the affidavit of Priscilla Mijares, whose husband, the lawyer and journalist Primitivo, was forcibly disappeared in January 1977 after he was lured home from the US by agents sent by the dictator.

A former president of the National Press Club, Primitivo became very close to Marcos but, after he was sent to the US in 1974, turned against the dictator, testifying before the US Congress on the human rights situation under the regime, and later authored the groundbreaking book, “Conjugal Dictatorship.” This sealed his fate.

On May 30, 1977, the Mijares’ son, Luis Manuel, who was only 16, was lured from their home and suffered the same fate as his father.