It has been 42 years since the late President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. Though most people believed it happened on September 21, 1972, the actual date of commemoration, there were also those who think it should be remembered on the 23rd, which was the day of the declaration, says a report on Rappler. The same report also said it was actually on the 17th that Marcos had actually signed the edict.
Still, no matter what the date had been when it was officially declared, the years of pain and suffering the Martial Law edict had brought are the ones that really matter.
People who disappeared
Younger generations who have not known what it was like to live under the Martial Law are quick to make light of the situation. These days, there have been jokes going around of young people who wish to experience the Martial Law as long as Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is the president.
Said in jest, the statement might sound great to their ears, but for those who suffered under the Marcos regime, the gift of freedom and democracy was the best that the country has received ever.
There were many people who just disappeared without a trace; the numbers are too many to count. No one knows for sure what really happened to these people.
People who were tortured
Many of those who were arrested during the Martial Law were tortured so they would spill the beans on their purported cohorts. The problem is that these people didn’t even have an idea why they were arrested and have no knowledge about the crimes they allegedly did.
Torture was so rampant that those who get arrested already fear the punishment that lie ahead. Only a few were spared: foreigners, people who had connections with the martial law officers, or well-known figures.
Most of the prisoners were denied their human rights, already declared as guilty, and had to prove their innocence, instead of the other way around.
Evil torture mechanisms
Sexual harassment was also rampant, no matter what gender or age the prisoner was. In an article on the Inquirer, Fr. Benjamin Alforque detailed how he underwent such horrific conditions that he turned away from God for a couple of months. Knowing he was studying to become a priest, his torturers would use sexual descriptions to try and break him. He was later made to witness horrendous sexual torture and harassment.
In a separate Inquirer article, various torture devices and procedures were detailed. In the ‘San Juanico Bridge torture’, the person is made to ‘lie on the air’ between 2 beds. Whenever the person falls or his body sags between the beds, he would be kicked or punished.
Others lamented how the prisoners were made to do a Russian roulette, wherein they are given a revolver with 1 bullet inside. They were then asked to spin the cylinder and pull the trigger to their heads. A number were also electrocuted in different ways, whether they had electrodes directly placed on parts of their bodies or on ice blocks they were forced to sit on.
Many were stripped naked and left without food, yet were forced to stay away for several days. Others were constantly beaten using what hard material was at hand, whether it was a piece of wood, rifle butts, or large soft drink bottles. There were also those who were subjected to punches, kicks, or slaps.
Some survivors also detailed how their hair, skin, or genitals were burned using cigarette lighters.
Those who survived the series of tortures they were subjected to continued to live in fear that they would again undergo the same shocking treatment. The tortures were so severe that many of those who did survive were sent to the mental hospital, instead.