MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS | 'Unbearable torture pushed my brother to try to drown himself'
The online news portal of TV5
As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, InterAksyon.com posts a series of testimonies from human rights victims of the Marcos regime. Thousands of Filipinos were murdered, tortured, or disappeared in the 14 years the country was under a dictatorship.
After the fall of the Marcos regime in 1986, close to 10,000 human rights victims - the survivors themselves or their families - filed a class suit against the Marcos estate. A US district court in Hawaii ruled in January 1995 that the victims are entitled to a share of the ill-gotten wealth recovered from the Marcoses: a total of $2.7 billion for their torment and torture.
However, the legal victory remains only on paper. The Hawaii ruling has to be enforced in the Philippines by a local court. The Makati Regional Trial Court is currently hearing the case but the Marcoses have so far been successful in blocking compensation to the plaintiffs.
So far, only $10 million, or $1,000 each, has been awarded to the victims and their kin. The money is not even part of the $2.7-billion compensatory and exemplary damages awarded by the Hawaii court but is from a settlement with Marcos crony, Jose Yao Campos, who has real estate properties in Texas and Colorado
Now 60 years old and doing business at a market in Manila, Francisco “Kiko” Luneta of Batangas City can still vividly recall how he and his six siblings – Maxima, Romeo, Jose, Domingo, Franco, and Ernesto - were tortured by the military starting in 1974.
Their youngest brother, Ernesto, suffered the most, according to Francisco. After his torturers threw him in a pool, Ernesto tried to commit suicide by gulping water and drowning himself.
“Ayaw na n’yang umahon. Gusto na niyang mamatay kasi di n’ya na kaya ang torture [He didn’t want to get out of the pool anymore. He wanted to die because he could no longer endure the torture],” says Francisco, who began having a hearing problem after his tormentors repeatedly knocked his ears and head until his eardrums broke.