As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, InterAksyon.com 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.
Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo was a journalist when he joined the underground revolutionary movement to fight the Marcos regime after Martial Law was declared. In 1976, he was captured and subjected to severe torture that included electric shocks and lighted cigarettes pressed on his skin. But he acknowledges that one of his worst tormentors was a young, long-haired Constabulary officer, Rodolfo Aguinaldo, who would later become governor and congressman of Cagayan before he was assassinated by the New People’s Army.
Ocampo escaped in 1985 and returned underground, surfacing as spokesman of the National Democratic Front for the short-lived peace talks of 1986-87 that collapsed after the Mendiola Massacre. Recaptured in 1989, he was released without being found guilty of any crime in 1992. Since then he has been a leading figure in Philippine leftist politics.
In this video, Ocampo talks of how yoga training helped him endure the torture and of his encounter with Aguinaldo, who told him during one session, “Look into my eyes, I’ll give you hell.”