Written by: National Service Training Program Student
Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan
The era of Martial Law was a dark time for the Filipinos, more so for those who experienced hardships that were out of their control. Grace’s story was such a case, wherein their family experienced having their properties taken away from them all because they were caught between the clash of those who are in power, and those who are trying to fight against it.
One morning in early 1985, an encounter between the local Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, the Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF) and the New People's Army (NPA) took place in Sarangani. According to the authorities, a local barangay there had been occupied by the NPA, and this eventually resulted in a firefight and the burning of houses by uniformed personnels who suspected that the residents were members.
Grace and her family witnessed the horrifying incident that put them in danger and nearly claimed their lives. Based on the affidavit of Grace, that morning, they heard multiple gunshots which caused them to panic. It was an encounter between the soldiers and the rebels in their barangay. They decided to run into a nearby creek for safety so they would not get caught in the crossfire, which lasted for about two hours. As they walked away from the area after the firefight ended, they witnessed their houses and properties being burned down, and also saw two civilians being killed. They strongly believed that those were the acts of the military forces, considering the vehicles that they have seen in the said area.
When the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) opened in 2014, Grace filed a claim for Destruction and Confiscation of Property, and Deprivation of Livelihood. However after a thorough investigation, the Board ruled against the claims of Confiscation of Property and Deprivation of Livelihood as under R.A. No. 10368, such claims of confiscation and deprivation must have resulted from an act of force, intimidation, or deceit. Grace was unable to show evidence on the aforementioned elements. However, the Board found that Grace was nonetheless a human rights violation victim under R.A. No. 10368 for Destruction of Property. The burning incident, which was committed by the soldiers, was adequately established by a newspaper clipping of an article submitted by Grace, as it showed her family’s house listed as one of the burned households and establishments in the tragic event caused by the military.
This incident in Sarangani affected the lives of the people, including Grace’s family, who have suffered and struggled to make ends meet. Most of the residents in the barangay were only farmers who needed to work hard to put food on their table. It is difficult to imagine how they were able to recover from what happened. Cases like this should be remembered and not be forgotten because it reminds the people about the various cases of human rights violations during the time of Martial Law under the late President Marcos Sr. Justice should be served to the victims of abuse and violence.
 Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 2014-11-00447, Sarangani: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 "Resolution" (Case No. 2014-11-00447, Metro Manila City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Victim’s affidavit.