LAURA (9 POINTS - TORTURE)

LAURA

Written by: Jenoah Francesca T. Jamis
Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan

On the 21st of September 1972, the late President Ferdinand Marcos placed the entire Philippines under Martial Law, supposedly due to Communist insurgents whose immediate objective was to overthrow the government. The declaration of Martial Law bestowed full authority to the military and to the President himself.[1] Throughout the entire duration of Martial Law under the Marcos regime, several human rights violations were committed, one of which was the case of Laura from Eastern Samar, Philippines.

While Communist activities continued to rise in the villages of Samar from the 1970s to the 1980s, President Marcos sent additional military forces to the island. The insurgents have reportedly raided villages, seized guns and equipment from the police, and have conducted meetings with the locals; prompting local chief of military intelligence, a certain Lt. Col. Nathan Caballero, to believe that the Communist rebels have been more successful in Samar than anywhere else. Due to the escalating conflict in April 1982 with the power vested in Capt. Quijano, who led a local Infantry Battalion, one of the key areas in Eastern Samar was declared a "no man's land."[2]

For this reason, in early 1982, Laura and her husband Justiniano left their residential house in this area and moved to a nearby barangay. The same day they arrived, however, Justiniano was arrested without a warrant and was brought to the local military barracks.[3] On her way to visit her husband an hour after the warrantless arrest, Laura was picked up by the same military officers who arrested her husband. She was dragged near an elementary school along the highway. With the use of a bayonet, a dagger-like steel weapon attached to a firearm, the soldiers removed her pants and underwear. She was forced to lie flat on the ground with her hands held by two soldiers; her feet held by two others. She was raped, as the soldiers, in her own words, inserted "[their] sex organ to [her] sex organ, one after another." Eighteen soldiers from about two platoons under Quijano’s command participated in the inhumane violation of Laura.[4]

About a month after the incident, Laura found out that she was pregnant. Justiniano was unable to accept this and could not consider her situation as an excuse. The two found themselves constantly arguing, until Laura had an unwelcome abortion. Justiniano had left Laura bleeding for several hours until her three-month-old fetus was unnaturally excreted from her.[5]

Years later, in 2014, Laura finally submitted a claim to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB). Included in her application are her personal affidavit as well as the affidavits of two people close to her and of the local Punong Barangay, Josefino Daragat, all of whom were familiar with her experience.[6] Under Republic Act No. 10368, otherwise known as the "Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013," the division mandated to determine the extent of the alleged violation and the corresponding reparation ruled in favor of her claim for Rape after she was able to provide sufficient evidence proving her assertions. She was awarded with nine points for Rape, under Republic Act No. 10368.[7] Laura was also conclusively presumed as a human rights violations victim (HRVV), as the HRVCB recognized her as one of the plaintiffs in the Hawaii class suit entitled "Human Rights Litigation against the Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos." She and the rest of the plaintiffs in this Hawaii class suit have been recognized as HRVVs and have been granted corresponding reparation under Sec. 17 of Republic Act No. 10368.[8]

The unlawful acts committed during the reign of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. encouraged Filipinos to revolt in an attempt to overthrow the Marcoses from their position. It is therefore unfortunate that there are still people who believe in the facade that the Marcoses made, even in the assertion that the Philippines under the Marcos regime was a golden era of unparalleled economic legacy. Though this is often used to justify the iron-fisted rule of Marcos, a deeper analysis will reveal that the so-called prosperity was superficial and artificial, and that it hid massive corruption, mountainous debts, and unsustainable “growth.”[9] Even with the many human rights victims and their stories that say otherwise, people would rather believe the facade that the Marcoses created. Not to mention the prevailing mentality of "as long as it did not happen to me, it never happened."

What more could be done for people to believe that Martial Law was not the Philippines' golden age? Perhaps in an era where technological advances continue to prosper there will always be advantages and disadvantages. As much as how easy it is to acquire facts, fake news and disinformation are also much easier to spread. For people to believe the lies brought by these networks proves that there is an information and education crisis that we need to address in the country.



[1] “Proclamation No. 1081, s. 1972,” Official Gazette, September 21, 1972, accessed June 18, 2022, https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1972/09/21/proclamation-no-1081/.

[2] Bernard Wideman & William Chapman, “Philippine Rebels Accelerate War on Samar Island,” The Washington Post, June 4, 1979, accessed June 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1979/06/04/philippine-rebels-accelerate-war-on-samar-island/be2fbd55-8343-44be-a542-d0a22f74f80e/; Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 2014-14-10828, Eastern Samar: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[3] Victim’s affidavit; Witnesses’ joint affidavit (Case No. 2014-14-10828, Eastern Samar: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[4] Victim’s affidavit; Witnesses’ joint affidavit; “Resolution” (Case No. 2014-14-10828, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[5] Victim’s affidavit.

[6] Josefino Daragat, “Certification,” (Case No. 2014-14-10828, Eastern Samar: 2012), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[7] “Resolution.”

[8] Ibid.; “Republic Act No. 10368,” Official Gazette, February 25, 2013, accessed June 19, 2022, https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2013/02/25/republic-act-no-10368/.

[9] AJ Montesa, “The Economic Legacy of Marcos,” BusinessWorld Online, March 6, 2022, accessed June 19, 2022, https://www.bworldonline.com/opinion/2022/03/06/434082/the-economic-legacy-of-marcos/.