Martial Law victims: 9-5 is just a number, not the truth

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2016 12:31 AM

"Huwag matakot, makibaka!" 

This phrase that has been a staple call during street protests in the Philippines first became a catchphrase during the Martial Law era when Filipinos were roused to voice their resentment against atrocities under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

Three decades later, hundreds of Martial Law victims and their kin who are still seeking justice gathered at the University of the Philippines in Diliman to chant the familiar battle cry` in a somber, more reverberating tone that echoed both anger and frustration after the Supreme Court announced that former president Ferdinand Marcos who led the decades-long military rule will be buried at the final resting place of Filipino heroes. 

The crowd that gathered before the Oblation told tales of a dictatorship, the torture, and silencing of those who opposed and criticized Marcos policies. 

"I was about 18 years old and my only demand was to bring back the student council and the student papers that were banned during Martial Law," former lawmaker Neri Colmenares said.

"I was electrocuted. I was burned with a cigarette. A loaded gun was placed in my mouth. It was traumatic for a teenager who neither killed nor harmed anybody," Colmenares recalled.


"What did I go through? Nothing much. They just inserted a stick into my private part, they just ironed my feet, they just made me pee blood," Bonifacio Ilagan, another Martial Law victim, said. 

"I'm still lucky I'm alive. My sister was abducted, tortured, and raped before she and three other girls were killed," Ilagan added.


The protesters decried how nine magistrates voted for the burial of the late strongman at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on the grounds that Marcos is a former president and a soldier, while only five justices dissented.

"Nine-five? That's just a number. That's far from the truth," Edita Burgos, wife of democracy icon Joe Burgos and a mother whose son was abducted, said.

Other victims saw the Supreme Court ruling as a revision of history and scoffed at Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos' call for "unity, peace and reconciliation."

"Paano magkakaroon ng reconciliation kung hindi nga nila inaadmit na may human rights violation noong Martial Law? Pwede bang sabihin ng isang rapist sa isang rape victim na 'Kalimutan mo na yun'?" Colmenares said.

"Yes, we need forgiveness but we also need justice. We cannot correct a mistake with another mistake," Burgos added.



With Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the late dictator will be remembered, and his victims will soon be forgotten, Colmenares warned.

"That's a horrible and tragic ending to the saga that is Martial Law," he said.

But November 8 will never be forgotten, other victims who attended the UP rally said.

Filipinos who lost their spouses, siblings, limbs, and even their sanity during the military rule said it is not just the same day when Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines in 2013, but it will also be remembered as "the day nine magistrates decided to bury Marcos along with the atrocities committed during his authoritarian rule."