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.
Talk about deja vu experience and multi-awarded writer Bonifacio Ilagan, chairman of the First Quarter Storm Movement, would have a ready example.
Arrested and detained in 1974 while the head of the Marcos regime’s Philippine Constabulary was Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, the then chairman of Kabataang Makabayan in U.P, was again arrested in 1994 when FVR was already the president.
In both instances, Ilagan, now 61, was tortured my military men, who did not identify themselves.
“Marcos…Ramos, the styles of the miitary are just the same. It was better when I was arrested in 1974 because they brought me straight to Camp Crame. But in 1994, I was brought to a motel in Baguio after my arrest in Benguet. I thought that it was already my time to die because they did not record my arrest,” says Ilagan, also vice chairman of Selda or the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto.