Written by: National Service Training Program Student
Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan
Martial law is the imposition of direct military control over routine civic duties, and particularly or the suspension of civil law by a government, particularly in reaction to an emergency where civil forces are overwhelmed. It was implemented by former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. on September 23, 1972, announcing on television that he had declared Martial Law throughout the Philippines to protect the state from communist groups like the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). However, after Marcos Sr. implemented Martial Law in the Philippines, abuse of power over innocent people became widespread.
Beng was one of the victims that was subjected to torture due to abuse of power. In late 1973, two armed men from the Philippine Army’s local task force and the Criminal Intelligence Service blocked Beng, who was on his way to his aunt’s house. They proceeded to assault him by striking him with a shotgun on his lower back and by punching him at different parts of his body including his face. Then, with his hands tied behind his back, Beng was brought to a local police station in Iloilo where he was presented to the Chief of Police. There, interrogations began, and he was stripped down and hit several times in the head with a .45 caliber pistol, causing him to bleed severely.
Beng was taken to a camp in Iloilo and was placed in his own detention cell where he was assaulted and subjected to russian roulette torture. A few days later, Beng was ordered to leave his prison cell for interrogation as he was questioned about a certain person and location. He was also taken to a funeral home to verify a body. Eventually, Beng was temporarily released more than a year later in late 1974 on the condition that he was to report to his Provincial Commander every Saturday.
In 2014, Beng was able to file a claim and was duly recognized by the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB). The Board adjudicated his claim and poured through the documents he submitted to corroborate his story. From this, they were able to conclude that Beng had been indeed arbitrarily detained for more than a year. The physical assault inflicted upon him also qualified as torture based on its definition under R.A. No. 9745. Thus, Beng was recognized as a victim of human rights violation and was awarded seven (7) points for torture.
We should remember what happened during the period of martial law under the reign of Marcos Sr., as we must bring justice to the sufferings of the innocent victims. We should educate others about what happened so that it does not happen to us again. The experience of Beng, who was an innocent bystander that became victim to the abuse of those who were in power, must not have a repeat in the future. Stories like this should be known to all to serve as a lesson that if we do not show our voices over those who abuse their power, then history will repeat itself and abuses in human rights will happen again.
 Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 07-2014-06-00137, Iloilo: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 “Resolution” (Case No. 07-2014-06-00137, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Ibid.; “Republic Act. No. 9745,” Official Gazette, November 10, 2009, accessed July 14, 2022, https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2009/11/10/republic-act-no-9745/. He was awarded 7 points as torture corresponds to the category obtaining the highest number of points, as compared to arbitrary detention, for which he was awarded 5 points.