MANILA—Activist Satur Ocampo noticed a fellow detainee in agonizing pain while they were urinating outside their prison cell, one of the few privileges allowed by their jail guards during then President Ferdinand Marcos' martial law.
It turned out, he said, that a barbecue stick was previously stuck in the man’s genitalia as a form of torture during Marcos’ "brutal" regime.
Ocampo, now 79, and fellow human rights victims on Thursday retold their own stories of torture and detention to correct what they called "historical revisionism" of former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.
“Can you just imagine the pain and the abominable practice being perpetrated on our people at that time?” he told a forum in Makati City.
Ocampo was joined by former Senators Aquilino 'Nene' Pimentel Jr. and Rene Saguisag, and Loretta Ann Rosales, seeking to dispute Enrile’s claim that no one was arrested for their political beliefs under Marcos.
“It’s time to come out and be partisan for the truth,” said Rosales, a former human rights chief.
“Mr. Enrile, unfortunately, does not seem to know when to take the right side of history. He is a person who adjusts according to demands of what is politically expedient for him and what is beneficial for him.”
Rosales recalled how she once played dead after a long torture session involving electric shock.
“But they knew when you’re going to die or when you’re still going to survive. So they just kept on,” said the long-time activist, who was also sexually abused by her captors.
It turned out, she said, that these abuses were not sanctioned because the captors stood in attention whenever the “official torturers” came in.
“Aba’y sabi kong ganun, ‘Dalawa ang levels. May official torture, may unofficial torture,’” she recalled.
Electrocution was also a form of torture often used on Ocampo, a journalist at that time.
One torturer, he said, was particularly “very brutal”: Rodolfo Aguinaldo.
“He would remove my blindfold (and say,) ‘Look into my eyes! I’m going to give you hell!” said Ocampo, whose head was also occasionally dumped in a toilet bowl.
Pimentel said he was not tortured like Ocampo and Rosales, but was arrested 4 times during martial law.
“But every time I was released, there was an additional penalty of house arrest and the house arrests were longer—years,” Pimentel said.
Saguisag, who recalled being arrested for describing Marcos as a “super subversive,” said the “psychological stress was beyond words.”