MIGUEL (10 POINTS - ENFORCED DISAPPERANCE)

MAR

Written by: Zchusku Zaymun Libago
Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan

Mar was born in Nueva Vizcaya in 1951.[1] He was raised along with his other siblings and spent most of his childhood working in the fields given that his father’s occupation at the time was farming. As time went on, Mar followed in his father’s footsteps and became a farmer himself, given that farming is something that had been constant in his lifetime. Mar was just living his days tending to the fields when, in 1986, a few days after the People Power Revolution, he was arrested in Ilocos Sur because he was suspected to be a sympathizer of the New People's Army (NPA).[2]

Mar was detained after being suspected as a sympathizer of the NPA. When he was detained, he was asked to clean comfort rooms having more than ten toilet bowls full of bowels, carry heavy wood lumber, dig canals with flowing water without any wage or without any form of compensation. The perpetrators were not even willing to share the fish that were caught by Mar and the other victims.[3] He was eventually ordered to be released and was finally let go a few weeks later that same year.[4]

The arrest and detention of Mar was done by three individuals who were members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC). The primary motivation and justification of the perpetrators was that Mar was a sympathizer for the NPA despite not being a threat to the community he resides in. The perpetrators arrested him without any warrant and forced him into doing labor, where he would spend twenty-three days essentially being a slave of the aforementioned perpetrators. He spent his days in detention cleaning toilet bowls that were full of human excrement, carrying heavy wood lumber and digging canals.[5] One could imagine the toll that this took on both Mar’s mental and physical health, especially since there was no way he could stop or run away, given that the people that were watching him were armed and that his fate was practically at the mercy of the barrel that was pointed towards him.

According to the resolution from the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board, there was no warrant nor a charge filed against Mar and that he was arrested out of the whims and the suspicions of the perpetrators. Mar was thus illegally detained. The board ruled against Mar’s claim for torture, but they considered the claim for physical injuries and granted him the claim for arbitrary detention given that he was arrested and detained without any warrant or prior case, while also being forced to work without pay or compensation. Thereafter, Mar was duly recognized as a human rights violations victim, one of the many during the Martial Law period.[6]

Martial Law is a period in our history that has been met with a lot of controversy. Many have said that it was peaceful and yet many have also said that it was a period of chaos. However, regardless of how people choose to remember that period in our country’s history, one thing is true, and it is that people suffered and lives were lost.[7] If stories like this are forgotten, history will always repeat itself when. We need to shed some light on stories like this so that succeeding generations and administrations can learn from the shortcomings of the ones before. By learning from our country’s mistakes and shortcomings, we will be able to avoid them. It is as Machiavelli said, “learn the way to hell in order to flee from it.”[8]



[1] “Local Civil Registry” (Case No. 2014-01-00172, Ilocos Sur: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[2] “Resolution” (Case No. 2014-01-00172, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. According to the victim’s affidavit, however, he was actually arrested in 1984. Sec. 3(c) of R.A. No. 10368 provides that victims of human rights violations committed one month after February 25, 1986 shall still be entitled to reparation, as long as, among others, the violation was committed by agents of the State. Thus, regardless of if the actual incident occurred in 1986 or 1984, Mar’s claim would still be valid.

[3] Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 2014-01-00172, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[4] “Release of PDC Mar” (Case No. 2014-01-00172, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. Name of the document altered to protect the victim’s identity. According to this document, Mar was ordered released in late February 1986, which is, supposedly, the same day he was detained according to the resolution. As such, it is possible that Mar was actually detained in 1984, as he mentioned in his affidavit.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Resolution” (Case No. 2014-01-00172, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. Mar was awarded four points for the higher category of arbitrary detention, but he was also eligible for the claim of physical injuries.

[7] Simon Orendain, “30 Years After Fall of Marcos, Generations Divided on Legacy,” VOA News, February 26, 2016, accessed May 22, 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/fall-of-marcos-generational-divide/3209052.html.

[8] Miles Unger, “What’s in a name… And what isn’t? Niccolo Machiavelli”, Washington Post, accessed May 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/opinions/outlook/whats-in-a-name/machiavelli.html.