Torture victims ask: 'Healing without justice, forgiveness sans apology?'

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2016 10:52 AM | Updated as of Nov 09 2016 11:22 AM

MANILA - Over three decades after the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, victims of alleged human rights abuses under his Martial Law rule continue to cry for justice and apology from the strongman's family.

Thousands of Martial Law victims held mass actions across the country on Tuesday, lamenting a Supreme Court ruling that allowed the burial of Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery -- a condonation, they said, of the abuses committed by the Marcos regime.

Among the protesters was Bonifacio Ilagan, a youth activist who was tortured and imprisoned from 1974 to 1976. He insisted Wednesday that martial law victims will never be able to move on from the horrors of the authoritarian regime as long as the Marcoses refuse to apologize to them.

"Paano maghihilom kung iyung hustisya ay hindi namin nakakamit? Sabi nila magpatawad na raw, e papaano magpapatawad, hindi naman humihingi ng tawad iyung mga sinasabi naming nagkasala at patuloy nilang itinatanggi iyung mga ginawa sa amin noong Martial Law," Ilagan told radio DZMM.

"So that we can move on, aminin ng mga Marcos na ang Martial Law ay lumabag sa mga karapatang-pantao ng 'di mabilang na mga Pilipino, aminin nila na sila ay nagnakaw at ibalik nila ang kanila ninakaw."

(How can we heal if we have yet to achieve justice. They said we should forgive, but how can we do so when those who were responsible have yet to apologize and are still denying the atrocities done to us under Martial Law?"

(So that we can move on, the Marcoses should admit that Martial Law violated the rights of countless Filipinos. They should admit that they stole from public coffers and they must return their ill-gotten wealth.)


Ilagan was a 23-year-old student activist at the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños when he was arrested from his house in Novaliches, together with journalist Jose Lacaba.

He said he and Lacaba were beaten black and blue before being brought to Camp Crame, the headquarters of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary.

For the next two years, Ilagan suffered "systematic torturing" at the hands of state forces.

"Pinilit nilang pasukan ng tingting ang aking ari, pinalantsa ang aking talampakan at ako ay umihi ng dugo matapos ang ilang araw na pagka-torture sa akin," he narrated.
(They inserted a stick into my genitals, they put a hot iron to my feet and I peed blood after several days of torture.)

He said his fellow activists endured even worse at the hands of torturers.

Lacaba was tortured after being forced to take a "truth serum", another detainee was thrown into a swimming pool with his hands tied behind him while scores of women were raped by their torturers.

Ilagan's sister, Rizalina, was also abducted, tortured, and raped before becoming one of thousands of desaparecidos or victims of forced disappearance.


Survivors of Martial Law will continue sharing their experiences with the public especially now that the highest court recognized the right of Marcos to be interred alongside the country's heroes, Ilagan vowed.

"Sabi po ng majority ng mahistrado natin, it has become a political issue. Therefore, magpapatuloy kami sa aming pampulitikang tungkulin na ipaliwanag sa taumbayan ang aming karanasan," he explained.

"Ito po ay hindi usapin laman ng isang bangkay. Ito po ay usapin ng kasaysayan ng ating bayan. Ito po ay usapin ng pagkilala sa katarungan at kapayapaan... Iyung henerasyon po ng ating mga kabataan ang at stake dito -- iyung paniniwala nila na nangyari ang itinatanggi ng mga Marcos."

(The majority of magistrates said that it has become a political issue. Therefore, we will continue upholding our political duty to explain our experiences to the public.

(This is not just an issue of a corpse. This is an issue of our country's history, an issue of recognizing justice and peace. What is at stake here is the younger generation and their belief about what the Marcoses are denying.)

Voting 9-5 with one inhibition, the SC junked Tuesday seven consolidated petitions that sought to block the Duterte administration's green signal for transferring the remains of Marcos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani from a mausoleum in Ilocos Norte.

Petitioners are set to file a motion for reconsideration asking the high court to reconsider its ruling.

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