‘We are twice victims of injustice’ – Martial Law victims

‘We are twice victims of injustice’ – Martial Law victims

Source:  Remate.ph

ON THE 40th year of the imposition of martial law, victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship pressed on their fight for justice and indemnification as they rallied once more at the foot of the historic Mendiola Bridge.

“We fought for justice under the dictatorship yet, 40 years later we are still victims of injustice,” Bonifacio Ilagan, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA said. “Many of our colleagues sacrificed their lives in the hope that one day they will see their countrymen free from want and fear.”

Ilagan pointed out that, “many of our colleagues were killed, disappeared, tortured and jailed, but after filing and winning the landmark human rights violations case vs. Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii, those who were responsible for these atrocities have not been punished. Worse, they are back in power.”

Martial law activists have pushed for the passage for the indemnification bill since 1998.They lambasted President Aquino for “sitting on the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill.”

The human rights group expected more from the current administration, saying that “Noynoy, the son of a martial law victim should deliver justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable for the crimes committed against thousands of Filipinos. But, the Marcos’ Victims Compensation Bill is again in for a tough ride.”

Senator Chiz Escudero has, on many occasion, said that the report by Committee on Justice and Human is ready for the plenary debates. “We have received the same reply for the longest time. Is the government serious about this? Or are the senators intimidated by the presence of a Marcos in the Senate,” Ilagan asked.

The group is also apprehensive with some of the provisions in the bill that they believe do not reflect the interests of the ML victims. Thus, it reiterated its earlier position, among others, the recognition of all 9,539 victims and class suit plaintiffs who won the case against Marcos both in the US and in the Swiss courts.

The members believed that the passage of the indemnification bill into a law is a step towards justice, “not so much for the compensation but more importantly, the recognition that injustice was committed to thousands of people during martial law. This should serve both as a reminder and a warning to all the administrations that people will not take injustice blindly. As proven in our recent past, there are many other avenues to pursue justice,” said Ilagan.

“We have no material wealth to pass on to our children and families. But so long as oppression and exploitation remain, this undying fervor to struggle for what is right and just will be our legacy to them and to the Filipino youth,” they said.


‘Marcos victims should never be forgotten’

‘Marcos victims should never be forgotten’

Source:  GMANetwork.com

The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ surprise burial at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery was greeted with widespread street protests Friday by outraged students, martial law victims and politicians who likened the former president’s family to a “thief in the night” as the rest of the country quietly slept.

Former President Benigno Aquino III, whose father and namesake was assassinated in 1983 by Marcos forces, said stories of courage and sacrifice during martial law “should never be forgotten” in the face of Marcos’ transfer at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Loved ones lost

“Former President Aquino believes at a time like this, it is fitting that we hear the voices of others: learn about their stories, the persons behind the statistics, their loved ones lost to the regime of martial law. They should never be forgotten,” Aquino’s spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said in a statement.

Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, were widely believed to have masterminded the assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. His death led to public discontent that culminated in a “people power” revolution that ousted Marcos in 1986 and sent him into exile in Hawaii, where he died subsequently.

The Marcos family were accused of plundering the country’s coffers, while thousands went missing or were tortured during the brutal two-decade regime.


Imelda, his son, Ferdinand Jr. and daughters Imee and Irene were later allowed to return home, where they have since regained political clout. Marcos Jr. became a senator but lost the vice presidential race in May, while Imee is the governor of the family’s stronghold of Ilocos Norte.

Opposition lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose brother Hermon was among the thousands who went missing, said that he was “contemplating” filing a motion to order the exhumation of Marcos who was “stealthily interred in LNMB.”

The Marcos family “has once again violated the rule of law and disrespected judicial processes,” he said.

Clandestine burial

“The clandestine burial of Marcos is in the malevolent mold of the Marcoses’ propensity for abuse, deception, deviousness and underhandedness,” Lagman said.

Human rights lawyer, Manuel Jose “Chel” Diokno branded the burial as a “tragedy.”

“It appears that they went ahead with the burial because the SQA (status quo ante) order has not been reinstated. But our presumption was they (Marcoses) will not move the body because we can still file a motion for reconsideration,” said Diokno.

His father, the late opposition leader Sen. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno, was detained during martial law.

Lagman was initially unconvinced that Marcos was to be buried yesterday, telling the Inquirer by phone that it was not possible since the petitioners could still file their motion for reconsideration until Nov. 28.

But less than an hour after the phone conversation, police officials confirmed that a burial for Marcos was taking place.

Lagman added the petitioners would also ask the Supreme Court to declare in contempt all those involved in the premature burial of Marcos without the Supreme Court decision having become final and executory.


On Nov. 10, Lagman, on behalf of the petitioners, filed a manifestation with the High Court that pending receipt of the Supreme Court decision, “they will definitely file motions for reconsideration which should not rendered moot by a precipitate Marcos burial.”

Singer Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement said the burial proved that “the Marcoses are unapologetic and extremely arrogant.”

“They struck a knife into our hearts and they are so proud of it,” Navarro said.

“Marcos was buried as he lived: holding nothing sacred. Neither tradition nor decency, neither the law nor the institutions meant to uphold them mattered to Marcos, whether in life or in death,” the movement said.

Naked contempt

“Today, the Supreme Court Justices who collaborated in this disgrace see the naked contempt in which the Marcoses hold the institution in which they serve,” the group said.

“In life and in death, Marcos is forever a thief,” it said.

Sen. Franklin Drilon branded the “stealthy” manner by which the burial unfolded as reminiscent of martial law.

“Marcos betrayed the country for decades; we should not allow him to continue to do so up to this day,” he said. “Like what Marcos did for 21 years, he caught us off-guard like a thief in the night.”

Sen. Francis Pangilinan for his part noted that the Liberal Party would support steps to remove the body from the site, including involvement in protest actions.

Congressmen also lambasted the burial, and expressed doubt on the Palace’s statements that it was caught unaware by the move. Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., one of the Supreme Court petitioners, said there was little relief now for Marcos victims, but expressed hope that the youth would pick up the fight.

Baguilat said the burial was “evidently planned in dark secrecy, and such plans can only hide sinister motives.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, described the “blitzkrieg” move as a “dastardly act characteristic of the Marcoses.”

Marcos’ Martial Law: What happened to one torture victim

Marcos’ Martial Law: What happened to one torture victim

Source:  News.ABS-CBN.com

Everything happened 42 years ago, but the horrors he went through are still vivid in the memory of Boni Ilagan, a human rights victim during Martial Law.

Ka Boni, as he is called by his peers, was a student at the University of the Philippines when former President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. He now heads the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), a human rights organization.

“Noong idineklara ang Martial Law, underground na ko, pero two years after, 1974 ako ay inaresto, ni-raid yung bahay na aming tinutuluyan, kasama ko si Jose Lacaba, isang kilalang journalist kahit noon,” said Ilagan.

He said their arrest had no legal niceties as they were beaten black and blue for more than an hour before being brought to Camp Crame, the headquarters of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary.

Handcuffed, Ilagan thought that the military’s move to bring him to Camp Crame will end the beating and begin the recognition of his human rights.

“Pero hindi pa ko nakakaupo, sinipa na kagad ako at pinagsusuntok, isinalya ko sa pader at pinagsusuntok ulit. After that, nagkaroon na ng methodical na sistema ng pagtatanong at pagto-torture, iyun na iyung hawak na nila yung mga nakuha nila sa aming mga papeles,” said Ilagan.

This is not the first time that Ilagan is talking about his experience, but emotion still swelled through his throat during the interview.

“Ang ginamit sa akin ay yung tinatawag na San Juanico Bridge, plinantsa ang aking talampakan,” said Ilagan who took a pause and a thousand-yard stare before moving on with his sentence.

“May isang pagkakataon na pinilit nilang pasukan ng tingting ang aking ari,” said Ilagan while shaking his head.

Ilagan’s incarceration ended in 1976, but his release did not end his agony.

When he was released, Ilagan decided to continue his studies, but later found out his sister, Rizalina Ilagan, disappeared.

Prior to his sister’s disappearance, she was seeking for help as some of her peers from the underground movement were already beginning to disappear from their safehouse.

“Siya ay dinukot kasama ng siyam na iba pa at hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa sila nakikita. Well dun sa 10, may tatlong nakita pero patay na. Yung dalawa natagpuan sa bangin sa Tagaytay at yung isa ay nahukay sa isang common grave sa Lucena,” Ilagan narrated.

“Dun sa aming pagsisikap na alamin ang nangyari, nalaman namin na yung tatlong babae dun sa sampu ay repeatedly ginahasa at in-execute silang lahat. Sa katunayan itong kasong ito ay isa sa maraming ebdensya na kasama sa aming pag-file ng kaso sa Marcos Estate sa Hawaii nung 1987,” he added.

Rizalina’s name, along with other martyrs who fought for freedom during Martial Law, is etched in gold on a black-marble Wall of Remembrance.

The wall that was erected at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City has yet to carry all the names of martial law victims.

To date, 75,730 cases of human rights victims have been filed before the Human Rights Claims Board.

Bobbie Malay, a volunteer of Bantayog ng mga Bayani, is among those who sift through documents.

She said it’s not easy to choose whose name gets to be etched on the wall since there were many people who fought against Marcos.

“Kinailangan ng maraming tao ang sinasabing magtago. Bukod pa dun sa pamumundok dahil maraming-maraming trabaho doon sa resistance movement na kailangan gampanan ng mga taong tutol sa disktadurya” said Malay, who herself was among those who went underground after her husband, Satur Ocampo, was arrested in 1974.


But stories like these are different from what is peddled today in the internet.

Professor Ricardo Jose of the University of the Philippines noted that the internet provides a different version of history during martial law.

Jose, a historian who also heads the UP Third World Studies Center, said he was still in high school when Marcos declared Martial Law and the version being circulated in the internet is different as newer versions of the story only tackled the infrastructure built and public order implemented while Martial Law was in effect.

“So martial law, sige, 1972 to 86, ang dini-discuss lang yung achievements. So ano yung achievements, yung makita, yung CCP yung mga highways , hindi pinapakita yung other side, yung human rights abuses, yung abuses dun sa ekonomiya, yung pagpasok natin sa utang, that’s not discussed too much in schools” said Jose.

The historian said that during Martial Law, there was news blackout and the only pieces that get printed are news that government wanted to give out.

“Talagang yung news, suppressed yung news. So hindi namin malaman kung ano ba talagang nangyayari. Then hindi nirereport for example yung nangyayari sa Mindanao, nagkaroon ng malawakang digmaan sa Mindanao that time, pero news blackout nun,” Jose said.

“Ibang opposition members nawawala na lang, then gradually lumalabas yung mga kwento na ganun. And then the press could not report it, pag kinuwento ng press, pag nireport ng press kinukuha yung magazine na yun. Even foreign media, kung minsan let’s say yung Time magazine or Asiaweek, critical sa gubyerno, hindi iyan lalabas sa newstands,” said Prof. Jose.


Browsing through the pages of an old textbook used by the Department of Education (DepEd), Martial Law was written only on a section of Araling Panlipunan which chronologically discussed the achievements of Philippine presidents.

Louie Zabala of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said the books previously issued by DepEd that discussed Martial Law were very superficial.

“Hindi lang sya simpleng manipis, kundi may paglilihis pa sa totoong pangyayari na naganap dahil kung makikita natin, halos binibigyang diin yung pag-glorify dito sa martial law sa halip na bigyang diin ang mga karanasan ng indibidwal at ilang mga grupo ng mga tao, so as makapag-paalala, magsilbing tagapag-paalala ito sa mga kabataan natin kaugnay ng madilim na bahagi ng kasaysayan natin,” said Zabala, who used to teach history as part of the Social Studies subject at F. G. Calderon High School, a public school in Manila.

According to Zabala, high school students under the K-12 system will no longer have history lessons since the course was moved to elementary.

“Sa kasalukuyan, lalo sa high school, dahil na-phase out na iyung Philippine History subject at ibinaba ito sa elementary hindi na ito itinuturo sa mga mag-aaral natin sa mga secondary schools. Pero bago ang implementation ng K-12, yung pagtalakay sa martial law ay bahagi lang ng pagtalakay doon sa isang bahagi ng nagawa ng bawat pangulo ng Pilipinas. Pero para ihiwalay yung martial law bilang isang hiwalay na paksa dito sa kasaysayan ay walang masyadong pagtitipon at pagbibigay-diin sa mga librong ginagamit sa mga pampublikong paaralan,” said Zabala.

But DepEd said that’s not necessarily correct.

Undersecretary Jesse Mateo explained that the curriculum provided by the department laid down history in progressive terms.

Mateo said the curriculum is presented in a manner that will allow the students to learn history in their community, before moving to the history of the nation, correlating it with history of the region and that of the world.

“Ang problema natin ay kailangan pa natin ng mga supplementary materials para mapaganda ang pagtuturo nung history na to. Kasi ang gusto nating mangyari yung bata mismo ang magkaroon ng critical thinking. Bibigyan natin sya ng facts,” said Mateo.

The education official explained that one cannot simply focus all his efforts over martial law, in trying to inject history in the instruction of elementary students.

“Hindi mo naman pupwedeng gumawa ka ng isang textbook lang tungkol sa kwan. Kasi yung textbook na yun tungkol sa isang history ng isang grado, tapos paakyat ng paakyat yun, yun ang konsepto na yun,” said Mateo.

Martial law–‘grisly one-stop butcher shop for human rights abuses’

Martial law–‘grisly one-stop butcher shop for human rights abuses’

Source:  Inquirer.net

THERE has never been a more opportune—or important— time to read about Martial Law. Between the current discussion on emergency powers or the debate over the possible burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, there has never been a greater need for explanatory reportage on what happened beginning in September of 1972 when Filipinos first heard of Proclamation No. 1081.

Perhaps this is also because there is a noticeable wave of denials about the human rights violations committed by the Marcos regime. Perhaps it is because even Malacañang’s online gazette—whether intentionally or not—initially omitted references to Martial Law and Marcos’ subsequent exile.

So there has never been a better time to read “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again” by Raissa Robles, edited by Alan Robles (Filipinos For A Better Philippines, Quezon City, 2016, 268 pages).

This oversized book has an outsized purpose. “This is merely a short and compact introduction to the atrocities and torture committed by the Martial Law regime,” the journalist Robles writes in her introduction. “It is not a detailed history of Martial Law nor is it a biography of Ferdinand Marcos. Those elements are mentioned in order to put the atrocities in context.”

Yet “Never Again” is extremely detailed in its chronicle of the Marcos machine’s brutality during that particular period in time. The “Never Again” part of the title clearly establishes how the author feels about martial law, but that never gets in the way of her reportage.

That does not dull the bloodletting conclusions: “Marcos’ regime was a grisly one-stop butcher shop for human rights abuses, a system that swiftly turned citizens into victims by dispensing with inconvenient requirements such as constitutional protections, basic rights, due process and evidence.”

Tortured and abused

Relentlessly and precisely, Robles tells the stories of those who were tortured and otherwise abused by the authorities during the Marcos years. This includes the ones whom we may already know about and those we don’t. It includes those who survived (Pete Lacaba,

Hilda Narciso) and those who didn’t (Eman Lacaba, Luis Manuel Mijares). It is proof that Proclamation 1081 is not a mere announcement but a turn of the screw that was spelled out with lost lives and scarred futures.

Robles surveys the twisted landscape of the particularly chilling is Robles’ explanation of the various techniques employed by interrogators—some with illustrations or photographs—such as the “San Juanico Bridge,” “Pompyang” and “Wet Submarine.” This is complemented by a recollection of the centuries-old tradition of torture in Philippine society, as well as the legacy of such actions, stretching into the post-Marcos years.

This isn’t hysterical all-caps polemical yelling. This is a logical and exhaustive presentation of the facts dealing with arrests and torture during Martial Law, backed, literally by 40 pages of notes, sworn statement, evidence and affidavits at the end of “Never Again.” There are many sub stories told virtually in the victims’ own words, or those of the activists and investigators.

While dealing out the horrifying truth, “Never Again” is masterfully designed by Felix Mago Miguel and features an illuminating foreword by Rene Saguisag.

While those who grew up and lived during martial law will find answers in “Never Again,” it is those who didn’t have to live through Martial Law, those who were born after it, who should consider this book a must-read. Any credible reflection on what martial law really was requires a reading of “Never Again.”

While physically big, “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again” is also figuratively the big book of Martial Law, standing as a definitive chronicle of this terrible time in Philippine history, especially for those who will inherit its consequences.

44 Years After Martial Law

44 Years After Martial Law

Source:  PhilStar.com

Having served a strongman dictator, the late president Ferdinand Marcos, former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Francisco Tatad do not see incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte doing another martial law rule in the country.

Enrile and Tatad were former defense and information Ministers, respectively, during the Marcos’ martial law regime in the country. Both are now retired from politics.

On the other hand, President Duterte has openly expressed his admiration to the late president Marcos who he described demonstrated “brilliant leadership” of the country during his close to 20 years of rule.

Following the Sept. 2 terrorist bombing that killed 15 people and injured 60 others at a night market in Davao City, President Duterte declared the entire country under a state of lawlessness. Fears were raised that President Duterte is eyeing the re-imposition of martial law in the country as a next move.

Enrile, who is regarded as the real architect of the martial law apparatus of Marcos, laughed off such fears as nothing but a figment of imagination. Tatad, who read Proclamation 1081 declaring martial law all over the country on Sept. 21, 1972, shared Enrile’s amusement to such scenario of President Duterte doing a Marcos.

Enrile and Tatad were one in saying the country’s 1987 Constitution has effectively defanged the powers of the President to declare martial law.

With strongman-rule image of President Duterte, Enrile finds funny the claims by sworn enemies of the incumbent administration to stir fears of martial law after state of lawlessness.

“What seems to be is not the reality,” Enrile said and chuckled at his own quip.

Tatad could not agree more at Enrile’s attempt to sound enigmatic as senior elder statesman. Much younger than his former collegue at the Senate, the 67-year old Tatad cited the need to provide light and guidance on a fair account of Philippine history as presented to generations of Filipino people.

The late president Marcos ruled for almost two decades that were marked by widespread human rights abuses by the police and military authorities, not to mention amassing of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their so-called crony businessmen.

Ex-Senators Enrile and Tatad were among the featured guests at Kapihan sa Manila Bay last Wednesday when we also discussed about the renewed national debate on the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

The debate was ignited anew after President Duterte gave the official go-signal to allow Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani which by its name is reserved for war heroes, that include ex-presidents of the country. The Marcos family originally set the burial rites this coming Sept. 18, Sunday.

However, anti-Marcos groups filed petitions against it before the Supreme Court (SC). Acting on the petition, the SC issued a temporary injunction last month pending resolution of the issue. While still conducting oral arguments against the Marcos burial, the High Court issued another status quo ante order effective until Oct. 18.

In effect, the SC status quo ante order means the waxed remains of the late president would stay at its present site in refrigerated crypt in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Among the petitioners included the group SELDA, or Samahan ng nga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detention at Aresto, an organization of former political prisoners convicted and jailed for common crimes during the martial law regime.

Our equally articulate guests at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay led by SELDA national coordinator Aglipayan Fr. Dionito Cabillas and ex-labor leader Danilo Mallari, a human rights (HR) compensation claimant among the HR victims during martial law faced off with Enrile and Tatad.

Mallari narrated in detail how he suffered during the Marcos regime as a 37-year-old labor leader who was among those tortured and detained by the military for their alleged seditious activities. Mallari, now 67 years old, has a pending compensation claims for HR victims he filed in Philippine court in 2001.

Todate, Mallari rued, he has yet to receive a single centavo from the Congress-created HR Victims’ Claims Board headed by the country’s first woman Police General now retired, Lina Sarmiento. Fr. Cabillas, for his part, reiterated SELDA’s stand that the ends of justice for HR victims will not be written off by any compensation from the State. But if Marcos will be buried at the Libingan, Fr. Cabillas pointed out, it would be injustice again for the martial law HR victims.

Naturally, this elicited vehement arguments from both Enrile and Tatad in defense of the late president. The two Marcos ex-ministers chorused the fact that it is the State that pays for the compensation on alleged HR abuses. Therefore, they argued, it was not Marcos but the alleged HR abuses committed were in the performance of the duties of the State to protect the nation from lawless elements during the martial law regime.

Enrile and Tatad reminded Filipinos at the time Marcos issued Proclamation 1081 there was clear and present danger posed by communist insurgents and other heavily armed groups operating all over the country wanting to take over control of the government.

On a lighter note, Fr.mCabillas immediately told us during our breakfast forum that the Aglipayan Church considers Enrile as a member of their flock. The 92-year-old Senator is only too happy to confirm that he was indeed baptized at age five years old in Aglipayan rites at their Church that still stands in Cagayan. But Enrile said he was rechristened in Catholic rites after his adoption.

Other than presiding his own coffee shop talks, what’s keeping Enrile busy these days after his last stint at the Senate? “I’m raising crabs,” Enrile disclosed. He wisecracked he is not promoting the “crab mentality” industry, or pulling down others like crabs do to each other.

Even as they are both already on their twilight years, so to speak, Enrile and Tatad pledged to continue their public service in correcting falsehoods peddled 44 years after martial law was imposed in the country. The two ex-Marcos ministers are speaking for the much-maligned martial law regime be given at least its side of the story for more fair accounts of the country’s history.

Women victims tell SC of Martial Law torture

Women victims tell SC of Martial Law torture

Source:  Rappler.com

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno puts the spotlight on the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act during the oral arguments on a hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Women victims tell SC of Martial Law torture 1

Martial Law victims attend the oral arguments on the hero’s burial for the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler


MANILA, Philippines – Victims of horrifying acts of torture during Martial Law recounted their painful experiences before Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday, August 31.

Etta Rosales, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) who experienced the atrocities of the dictatorship, recounted: “They had a gun and they threatened me to answer the question, otherwise they [would] shoot [me].”

She was also raped, tortured, and went through electric shock and Russian roulette.

Rosales is among the petitioners asking the Supreme Court to stop the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which President Rodrigo Duterte had allowed supposedly for the country to be able to move on from that period of history.

Another petitioner in one of the cases, Trinidad Herrera, told the Chief Justice about her terrible experience under the dictatorship.

“‘Pinatanggal nila ang aking blusa at ‘nilagay ang linya ng kuryente sa suso ko. Pumasok pa ang kuryente sa katawan ko hanggang di ko na nakayanan,” Herrera tearfully recalled during oral arguments on the petition against a hero’s burial for the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

(They ordered me to remove my blouse and they applied electric shock on my breast. Electricity went through my body until I couldn’t take it anymore.)

“They even put water on the floor so that the electricity would enter my body,” she added in Filipino.

Another victim, Fe Mangahas, shared: “They would scare me again by touching me and breathing down my neck and then I felt something like naihi ako (I peed). I figured it was blood because at the time I did not realize I was two months pregnant.”

“When they found out I was pregnant I was released, but I was asked to report weekly about my whereabouts. I had to do this every Saturday for a year,” she added.
Other victims also detailed what they went through when they were captured by uniformed men.

Maria Christina Rodriguez said her captors burned her skin with cigarette. Her fingers were swollen because of bullet-pressing.

Maria Christina Bawagan said her thighs were hit until they looked like rotten vegetables. She was sexually abused, with her captors inserting objects into her vagina and touching her breasts while blindfolded. She said she may never know who exactly tortured her, but she clearly remembered their voice.

Each of these women remembered the exact date they were captured and went through the life-scarring experience.

Sereno asked the petitioners, who are claimants for compensation under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act, to speak before the court. She told them, “The Court is listening.”

Not about the money

During her interpellation of former Akbayan Representative Ibarra Gutierrez III, lawyer for one of the petitioning groups, Sereno asked if the monetary compensation for the victims was not sufficient.

Gutierrez responded: “No, your Honor, because the law explicitly acknowledges to recognize the [victims and their heroism and sacrifices].”

He also said that money is not equivalent to the restoration of dignity of the victims.

The late strongman’s state burial, he said, would “prolong and extend” the suffering of the victims.

Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) Chairperson Lina Sarmiento, who was one of the resource persons invited, said that out of over 75,000 claims, they have only finished processing 17,000.

HCRVB can only start distributing the compensation after every case has been settled because the P10 billion funds allotted will be divided according to the intensity of human rights violations experienced by each victim.

Sarmiento said they are hoping to finish the work before May 12, 2018, when their office expires.


Also appearing as a resource person, CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said the state has an obligation for “non-repetition” of the trauma they experienced during Martial Law.

“There is a commitment on the part of the state [to] non-repetition, [that] the victims should not be exposed to re-traumatization,” he told Chief Justice Sereno.

Gascon stressed that local and international laws acknowledge reparations as a “positive act that the stake must undertake to [prevent] impunity.”