Written by: Christian Riel S. Villanueva
Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan
The Martial Law Period was a dark chapter in Philippine history where human rights violations were prevalent throughout the country. It was a time where then-President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. exercised a one-man rule over the entire country for almost 14 years. In this article, we aim to tell one of the stories of those who suffered during the Marcos years, and take it as an opportunity for the victims of the period to be remembered and never be forgotten.
Miguel is one of those victims. In 2014, his son Manolo filed a claim on his father’s behalf to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) for reparation and recognition as a human rights violations victim of the Marcos regime. Manolo supported his claim with the testimonies of individuals who were present during his father’s arrest, just before his disappearance.
According to Manolo, one day during the first half of 1983, members of the Philippine Army in the province of Isabela arrested a group of individuals, including his father.Manolo testified in his affidavit/claim that his father was taken, tortured, and mauled by a group of officers led by a certain Capt. Renato Hipolito.
Two witnesses, Johnny Dalisay and Ricky Hidalgo, both of whom personally knew Miguel, testify that Miguel was with them when they were arrested. They also testify that they were tortured while under the custody of Capt. Hipolito. Two days later, Johnny and Ricky were released, but Miguel and other detainees were left behind.
This was the last day that Johnny and Ricky ever saw Miguel. Days, months, and years passed since then without any news on his whereabouts. Filing a claim for recognition and reparation on his behalf was one of the few options Miguel’s family had in pursuit of justice. The claim that Romel submitted stated that his father was tortured, killed, and forcibly disappeared.
The HRVCB denied the claims of Torture and Killing due to lack of evidence. There were no testimonies that explicitly stated that Miguel was killed, and there was no sufficient evidence to show that Miguel was beaten systematically up to a level of severity that could be identified as torture, based on the definition provided in the Anti-Torture Act of 2009. However, the Division ruled in favor of Enforced Disappearance.
Aside from his recognition under R.A. 10368, Miguel was also recognized, along with thousands of others, as a human rights violations victim under the Hawaii class action suit against the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos (MDL No. 840, CA No. 88-0390). His family was eligible to receive reparations amounting to USD 1,000.00, equivalent to Php 50,000.00, for the crimes committed on him by State agents.
Existing documentation provides sparse details for one to fully understand the circumstances surrounding Miguel’s disappearance. Nevertheless, his case provides enough evidence to warrant a recognition by the Philippine Government that he is one of the thousands whose human rights were violated by the Marcos regime.
A life in exchange for settlement, a loved one for reparation. The loss of a husband, a father, a pillar of the family, and a friend. Everyone who is affected by Marcos’ Martial Law, in any way, shape, or form, deserves to see that justice is served. Reparations may not be enough to bring back the lives of those who disappeared, but making their stories known to the world takes them a step closer to justice.
 Claimant’s affidavit (Case No. 2014-09-00299, Isabela: 2014), 1. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission.
 “Affidavit of Two Disinterested Persons,” (Case No. 2014-02-00299, Isabela: 2014), 1. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 “Resolution,” 2.
 Ibid.; Robert E. Swift, letter to victim’s representative re: Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation, MDL No. 840, Pangalawang Pamamahagi (Second Distribution), January 9, 2014. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.