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 | Beaten up before questioning 'because they wanted to introduce themselves' 1
This is the narrative of a farmer from Hinunangan, Southern Leyte who was arrested by military intelligence in Tacloban City on February 6, 1986, tortured for a month in a safe house, then detained until his release in April under the amnesty program of then President Corazon Aquino. Even before his interrogation began, he said his captors started beating him up because “they wanted to know me first because I was a new detainee.”

This is the English translation of his affidavit, which was written in Bisaya:

On February 6, they arrested me and forced me into a jeep. When I tried to resist, they beat me up. Then they tied me up and then forcibly loaded me onto their vehicle and took me to their safe house.

Even before they started questioning me, they beat me up because, they said, they wanted to introduce themselves to me because I was a new detainee.

They also threatened to place me in solitary confinement and apply electric shock. I was handcuffed for a month.

After a month at the safe house of MIG 8 in Barrio Marasbaras, Tacloban, Leyte I was taken to Camp Lucban in Catbalogan, Samar where I was again interrogated and, because they were not satisfied with my answers, they hung me up for half a day.

Besides the pain I felt all over my body, I also suffered hunger. After this, they jailed me and after two weeks, the OIC Mayor Aquilino Catalan of Catbalogan, Samar visited me but the military warned me not to tell him of what I suffered at their hands and I obeyed out of fear.

Soon after, I was released through the amnesty granted by President Corazon Aquino.