Martial law victims speak: ‘Do not forget our suffering’

(Photo by Dee Ayroso/Bulatlat)
(Photo by Dee Ayroso/Bulatlat)

“Until now, we bear the trauma then we are told to forget about the past. What about us, the victims?”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

MANILA – Sixty-four year old Felix Dalisay broke into tears as he recounted the day he thought he would die.

Sometime in 1973, Dalisay, a member of Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in the ‘70s, was arrested and brought to Libis, Quezon City, then an isolated place. One of his captors pulled the trigger just beside his left ear he thought he would die.

Dalisay was one of the martial law victims and petitioners asked to testify at the Supreme Court today, Aug. 31 during the oral arguments on the petitions against giving the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial.

“If Marcos would be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), they would also forget our suffering,” Dalisay told Bulatlat in an interview.

Like Dalisay, Maria Cristina Rodriguez was not at all prepared to recount what she went through during the Marcos dictatorship. She was arrested twice and was subjected to torture.

The moment her fellow human rights victims share their experiences, Rodriguez began trembling. “We were wiping our tears all throughout,” she told Bulatlat.

Re-traumatization

Rodriguez said allowing Marcos to be buried in the LNMB would cause re-traumatization to the victims.

Trinidad Herrera, an urban poor leader from Tondo who was arrested several times during martial law, told the Supreme Court justices how she was electrocuted: wires were attached first to her fingers until they bled; then on her nipples.

Former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales also said the electric shock was the worst. “Twenty-four hours continued torture, no sleeping. It went on and on until there’s an electric shock,” Rosales told the high court.

Another victim, Carmencita Florentino, said she was arrested along with her daughter and her husband from their home in Tatalon, Quezon City in June 1977. “I was almost raped,” Florentino told the justices. She added her daughter remains traumatized until now.

Dalisay said in Filipino, “Until now, we bear the trauma then we are told to forget about the past. What about us, the victims?”

Lina Castillo-Sarmiento said 75,000 victims filed their applications with the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB).

Created by Republic Act No. 10368, the Board is processing 17,000 cases.

Violation of reparation law

Lawyers for the petitioners maintained that a hero’s burial for Marcos violates several laws, including RA 10368.

Former Bayan Muna Neri Javier Colmenares said the symbolism of a hero’s burial for Marcos is the message in itself. “The victims will be forgotten, Marcos will be remembered forever,” he said.

Colmenares said giving Marcos a hero’s burial would render the right to reparation/ recognition of martial law victims practically diminished, if not obliterated.

CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon, during interpellation by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, said that in both in domestic and international law, reparations should go beyond monetary payment.

Gascon said Marcos’ burial in LNMB would expose victims to re-traumatization. “A place of honor [for Marcos] creates a continuing offense on the part of the victims.

The Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law states that victims should be treated with humanity and respect for their dignity and human rights, and appropriate measures should be taken to ensure their safety, physical and psychological well-being and privacy, as well as those of their families.

The Philippines is a signatory to international human rights conventions and instruments, including the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said, “Petitioners have been scarred for life your Honor, and seeing Marcos buried in LNMB will cause irreparable injuries.”

Cortez pointed out that RA 10368 recognizes the heroism and sacrifices of martial law victims.

Interpellating lawyer Ibarra Guttierez III, Sereno asked if Marcos’s burial would restore the victims dignity as stated in RA 10368. Gutierrez replied, “No. It does the complete opposite.”

Representative Edcel Lagman maintained the “cardinal sins of the late President nullified his status as soldier and President so he isn’t entitled to a hero’s burial.”

Lagman said giving Marcos hero’s burial will violate RA 289 or a law creating national pantheon for presidents and heroes. (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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