Over the years, Bulatlat interviewed many activists who fought the Marcos dictatorship. Here are just five of the most powerful testimonies.
“Every night they took 10 men, made them dig their graves, then shot them dead. Every night they also took 10 women to the boat, and raped them.” — Abunawas Kali
Abunawas Kali was a young government employee in Maguindanao province during Martial Law. His two uncles, Amay Sandalia and Usop Kabalu, had survived the Manili massacre in Carmen, North Cotabato in 1971. The two men lost their respective wives — Pakutao Gani and Maysalam Kabalu, each with three children seven years old and younger — in the carnage by soldiers who shot dead 70 Moros inside a mosque.
Kali asked his two uncles to stay at his house and work in his rice mill in Bulibud village, Sultan Kudarat, along with another uncle, Hajitahir Rasul. Kali was then working in the municipal office in Parang and went home only on weekends. Rasul’s wife, children and sister also lived in Kali’s place.
In 1974, Kali was in Parang when soldiers of the 35th infantry battalion came to the house in Bulibud at dawn and fired randomly. They roused the sleeping residents, and made Kali’s three uncles line up on one side, and the two women and two children on another. The soldiers even wanted the 11-year-old boy to line up with the men, but his mother pleaded to keep him by her side. Then the soldiers shot the men, firing squad-style.
The women and children took the chance to escape, jumped into the river and swam to the other side. It was Kali’s aunts, Saynab and Sawad Rasul, and the latter’s two children, Udin and Bakungan, who lived to tell Kali about what happened. Kali’s niece, Bakungan vividly recalled the soldiers used “a gun with a magazine belt” — an M60 machine gun — to fire at the three men.
The soldiers then looted the Kali family home, carting away the antique Muslim heirloom. Then they burned the house and the rice mill, razing 75 sacks of rice and all of Kali’s important documents and belongings. The soldiers were also seen carrying away Kali’s uncle, Hajitahir Rasul, whose body was never found.
“Grabeng pagmasaker, grabeng ginawa ng militar sa Muslim,” Kali bitterly said, recalling the sad fate of his uncles.
That same year, in September, 20 more of Kali’s relatives were killed in the gruesome “Kulong-kulong massacre” in Palimbang town, Sultan Kudarat province. Some 1,500 Moros were killed when soldiers attacked the coastal town and gathered thousands of residents of seven villages, and detained them in the Tacbil mosque.
“Every night they took 10 men, made them dig their graves, then shot them dead. Every night they also took 10 women to the boat, and raped them,” Kali recalled the story by one of the survivors, his cousin, Bainkung Buwisan. Buwisan was then 14, and was raped, along with other women who were herded into a Philippine Navy boat where they were assaulted and raped. Those who resisted committed suicide by jumping into the ocean, or were shot dead by soldiers.
Kali said his cousin still clearly recalled the name of the Navy boat “Occidental Mindoro” and had the number “99.” Buwisan is now one of the Moro claimants under Republic Act 10638, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act.
“Even though I was pregnant, I was not exempted from torture.” — Loida Magpatoc
She was given the water cure. While she lay on her back, water dripped from a jar placed about three feet above her head. After about 15 minutes, she lost consciousness.
Sometimes, her captors played darts, using her face as the dartboard. The worst was the Russian roulette: a soldier placed a single bullet in a revolver, spun the cylinder, placed the muzzle against her head, and pulled the trigger several times.
One time, she was taken out of the camp and the soldiers told her she would be killed. Her cousin, who was arrested along with her, was “salvaged,” the military’s term for summary execution.
For five months, she was hidden from the public view. No visitors. No lawyers.
“They tied an electric wire to my thumbs. The wire was connected to a military field phone so each time they cranked it, it sent electric shocks. They interrogated me and every time I did not answer, they electrocuted me.” — Trinidad Repuno Herrera
On April 23, 1977, intelligence officers caught Herrera while she was on her way to Xavierville in Quezon City. “They grabbed me. I kept on shouting, asking for help. Later on I learned that someone recognized me and intelligence agents went around looking for people who knew me,” she said.
Though she had been arrested several times already, Herrera felt that this arrest was to be different. She was brought to the police station along United Nations Avenue in Manila.
“When we arrived (in the police station), there were already nuns looking for me. The police said my friends were very fast in locating me. The nuns spent the night at the police station to look after me,” Herrera said.
The next day, Herrera was brought to Camp Crame in Quezon City. “I was brought to a small room. It was very cold. I was freezing,” she said.
Though Herrera was only in her 30s at that time, she recalled how she was tortured as if it was only yesterday.
“They tied an electric wire to my thumbs. The wire was connected to a military field phone so each time they cranked it, it sent electric shocks. They interrogated me and every time I did not answer, they electrocuted me,” Herrera tearfully recalled.
“My thumb bled,” she said, “but they did not stop. I was already shouting and still they did not stop.”
“When they stopped, I thought it was already over. But they tied the wires to my nipples. I thought I would explode,” she said.
Soldiers tried to force Herrera to sign a blank paper. “I refused. I insisted on seeing my lawyer,” she added.
“Naked, they electrocuted me. Naked, they beat me up. I have chosen to forget the details because it still pains me.” — Romeo Luneta
Tatay Romy said he was arrested by the military on the belief that he was Jose or Pepe, a younger brother, who, according to the military, was then a high-ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Five other siblings Ernesto, Domingo, Maxima, Franco and Francisco were also activists. Tatay Romy was the first to be arrested.
Francisco, 59, said he was arrested in the early morning of May 12, 1974. That afternoon, Domingo was also arrested at the house of Fidel Agcaoili, another activist who was also arrested. Pepe was arrested in 1975 somewhere in Navotas.
On April 12, 1974, Franco’s wife Margarita and two-year-old daughter Ningning were among the eight individuals who were abducted by state agents in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. They remain missing to this day.
When asked about the torture, Francisco just said: “All types of [kawalanghiyaan] cruelty.” But Francisco said their brother Ernesto suffered the most.
“Hands tied, he was drowned in a swimming pool. The torturers would revive him and repeat the process over and over again,” Francisco said. “They would also pour hot water on him, followed by cold water that made his body shake involuntarily,” he added. Long after Ernesto was released from prison, Francisco said, his brother’s legs still trembled.
Ernesto was beaten up repeatedly to the point that his legs and arms became bloated, said Francisco.
Ernesto died last year. Domingo died in 2007. Only five of them, including Maxima, Franco and Pepe are still alive.
Lifting his shirt, Dela Fuente pointed at the soft spot just above his stomach and said, “They would hit this with their hands, formed into a ‘cobra’ and I would cringe in pain.” — Danilo Dela Fuente
Dela Fuente, along with seven others, was arrested on Feb. 25, 1982. At around lunchtime that day, while Dela Fuente and other union organizers were having a meeting, elements of the Philippine Constabulary and military intelligence group raided their headquarters.
Dela Fuente was first brought to Camp Crame where he saw other activists rounded up from different parts of Metro Manila. They were asked to line up outside one of the buildings as military assets identified them. He remembered seeing then Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo, known for torturing activists. “Nang makita niya si Alan Jazmines, sabi niya, ‘Suki!’ Tuwang-tuwa ang gago. Nangigigil.”
At Camp Crame, Dela Fuente experienced what he called as “cobra.” Lifting his shirt, Dela Fuente pointed at the soft spot just above his stomach and said, “They would hit this with their hands, formed into a ‘cobra’ and I would cringe in pain.”
Days later, his body became numb.
He was later transferred to Fort Bonifacio. Along with three other activists, Dela Fuente was blindfolded with a five-inch masking tape. His captors told him, “Ano? Nakita mo na ang wala?”
Many times, his head was banged on the wall. He was also subjected to electrocution.
The mental torture, he said, was just as bad.
Every night, they would hear the door open. When soldiers hit the door with truncheons, they knew one of them would be taken out. Minutes later, they would hear screams. “Nakikilala namin sa boses kung sino ang kinuha,” he recalled.