Victims of human rights violations during martial law on Wednesday recalled the torture they had endured from the police and the military under the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
On the first day of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court (SC) on consolidated petitions opposing the government’s plan to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), torture victims were each given a chance to air their sentiments and to recount how they were tortured during martial law.
Former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales was first to speak before the SC justices, recounting how she was sexually molested and how she was subjected to various forms of torture such as electric shock, water cure and a Russian roulette routine, wherein a gun was pointed at her while she was undergoing interrogation.
“It was just a continuing thing. I lie there for 24 hours of continuing torture, there was no eating or sleeping,” Rosales said.
Rosales, a daughter of a late soldier, said she was tortured in a police camp for two straight days and was detained for almost a month.
Her sister, Maria Cristina Pargas-Bawagan, also suffered torture in a police camp in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
Bawagan said she was arrested for alleged possession of illegal documents, which she knew nothing about.
“I was blind-folded, my mouth was gagged. My legs were paddled. They put sharp object over my breasts,” Bawagan said.
Bawagan said the following day, her torturers raped her by fondling her breasts and inserting a long object in her genital.
Bawagan said she was placed under solitary confinement for five day before her mother was able to find her and pick her up.
Fe Buenaventura-Mangahas, a history professor in a university during martial law, said she was subjected to mental torture as she was isolated in a dark room for days. She was interrogated by men who asked lewd questions.
She said policemen also brought her to PNP headquarters in Camp Crame and made her watch how other women were being tortured.
“I could hear women screaming,” Mangahas recounted.
Mangahas said she was only released after she had profuse bleeding.
“I did not know that I was two-month pregnant. When they were interrogating me, akala ko naihi lang ako, but then when I looked it was blood. I was rushed to the hospital and that was only when I found out that I was pregnant,” Mangahas said.
Meanwhile, Gilda Narciso, a youth activist, recounted how she was gang-raped by her torturers.
“They handcuffed and blind-folded me, and a lot of hands were all over my body. And they put their penises, one at a time in my mouth, fingered my vagina. That went on for the whole day,” Narciso said.
Land reform activist and urban poor leader Trinidad Herrera said she was about to go abroad to serve as one of the judges in an international competition on urban housing design, when policemen arrested her in April 1977 and brought her to Camp Crame.
Herrera said that during her interrogation, her breasts and fingers were electrocuted using a live telephone wires.
“Nilagyan pa ng tubig yung sahig para mas malakas ang kuryente,” Herrera said.
She said her interrogation and electrocution went on for about six hours until she passed out.
“Hanggang sa mawalan ako ng ulirat at nilipat ako sa camp Bicutan kung saan nandun yung iba pang urban poor leaders,” Herrera said.
“Nararamdaman parin ng katawan ko ang pahirap, ngayon na matanda na ako,” she added.
Meanwhile, labor leader Felix Dalisay, who is now 64 years old, said he had undergone tortures by “Fifth Session” a codename for the Fifth Unit of the Philippine Constabulary (now Philippine National Police) for almost three years under detention.
“Yung Fifth Session or the Fifth Constabulary sila yung pinaka notorious torturer nung martial law…Nandyan yung suntok, sipa, electrocution, bullets pressed between your fingers,” Dalisay said.
Dalisay said he has a hearing problem in his left ear due to the various tortures he endured.
“Masasabi niyo po bang forget about the past? Sa amin po hindi po ganun kadali yun. Hanggang sa ngayon ‘pag naaalala namin ay naiiyak parin kami, naaawa sa sarili namin,” Dalisay told the SC Justices.
“Hanggang ngayon hindi pa nakaka tanggap ng compensation ang lahat ng mga biktima ng martial law. Payagan man yan ng SC na ilibing siya (Marcos) diyan [sa Libingan ng mga Bayani], hindi po kami titigil sa pagtutol. Habang buhay po namin dadalin yan,” he added. —NB, GMA News