MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS | 'Pray, pray all the prayers you know, your time has come' 1

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.


Domiciano Amparo was one of five persons arrested by government troops in the Mountain Province town of Sagada in 1984. Buried up to his chest in the ground, his captors stomped on him, kicked his face until he lost all feeling there, rode him like a horse, made ashtrays of his shoulders until, feeling he would no longer make it, he was advised to “pray, pray all the prayers you know, your time has come …”

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