This is an entry of the 50 Before 50 Martial Law Commemoration Series.  To see the full list of entries, press this link: 50 before 50 Project Page



written by: Mikaila Pamisa Xavier University – Ateneo de cagayan

In November of 1985, Agnes together with her sisters, Edna and Karina, went to a barangay in General Santos, where they met up with their five friends, Simon, Rogelio, Julio, Allan, and Pedro, to all attend a rally. To their surprise, troops from the local brigade suddenly arrived at the rally, and arrested Agnes and her companions.[1] The soldiers from the brigade were conducting “dragnet” operations, wherein they were searching for suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).[2]

The soldiers boarded Agnes and her friends onto a 6×6 military vehicle, and took them to a camp located at a barangay in General Santos City.[3] In the quarters, each member of the group was individually brought in for questioning regarding their involvement with the NPA and the CPP. During the interrogation all of the victims went through an “on the spot torture,” wherein they were punched and kicked when they could not answer.[4] In between being psychologically threatened, the soldiers continued to torture them by means of smacking their heads on the walls, hitting them with the butt of a gun, threatening to shoot them by shoving a gun into their mouths, and further beatings.

The soldiers deprived Agnes and her friends of sleep after the torture they experienced. Agnes recalls that two soldiers blindfolded her and took her into a room, where she was made to stand and face further interrogation. During the interrogation, she was sexually assaulted as she was made to strip naked, and was kissed and molested by the soldiers.[5] While this harrowing assault occurred, Agnes was forced to confess that she was part of the (CPP-NPA).

After a long and exhausting night, Agnes and her fellow detainees were not fed, even until the next day, when the soldiers took them back to their barangay.[6] The soldiers humiliated Agnes and her friends in front of their home community, as they were forced to walk barefooted, and ordered to shout and proclaim that they were members of the CPP-NPA.[7] Refusing to do so, they were brought to the headquarters of the 453rd Battalion of the Philippine Constabulary. Inside the detention cell, Agnes, together with her two sisters and friends, were tortured every night for one straight week.[8]

The soldiers suffocated Agnes by covering her head with a plastic bag. In addition to this, she was again sexually assaulted, as the soldiers forced her to undress, proceeding to molest her.[9] After an entire week of interrogation and torture, Agnes and her co-detainees were able to rest briefly. But not long after, they found themselves in court, being tried for their supposed involvement with the CPP-NPA.[10]

Agnes, her sisters, and her friends, found themselves in detention, wherein they met several political detainees.[11] It was only four months later, when with the legal aid of two lawyers, along with the General Amnesty Program of then President Corazon Aquino, Agnes and her co-detainees were finally released in March of 1986. Their charges for their alleged involvement in subversive groups were later on dropped in September of 1987.[12]

Thirty-eight years passed, Agnes, her two sisters, and five friends, altogether filed for a claim of reparation and recognition before the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB). Under the evidence they presented, the Board ruled in favor for the following: Agnes, along with her sister, Edna, were awarded, eight (8) points for the claim of Torture and Sexual Offenses during Detention. This falls under Section 14 or R.A. No. 9745, wherein torture is made more severe through sexual assaut, by state agents.[13] Her other sister, Karina, along with their friends, Simon and Rogelio, were awarded nine (9) points for the claim of Torture. The basis for this is that the three victims were minors at the time of the incident, and falls under Section 14 of R.A. No. 9745, wherein torture is considered more severve when committed towards children.[14] And last but not least, her three other friends, Julio, Allan, and Pedro, were awarded seven (7) points for the claim of Torture, under R.A. No. 10368. For their case, the Board awarded the three of them for only one valid claim, while corresponding to the category with the highest number of points possible per claimant. Therefore, they are eligible for compensation, as their claim for Torture falls under the human rights violation that follows a higher award for points.[15]

Agnes, and her fellow victims share that because of their horrific ordeal, they suffered from trauma, felt that they lost their dignity as humans, and continued to live in fear of uniformed and armed personnel.[16] Agnes shares that it took quite a while before she was able to adjust and continue to live her life normally. She also writes that the reason she came out with her personal account, apart from receiving justice, reparation, and recognition, is that her story, along with many others like hers, may be used to educate and show that the Martial Law era was a horrific period. It is a historical truth that must be upheld, in order for the nation to learn and consciously act upon never forgetting, and never repeating.

[1] Victim’s Affidavit (Case No. 2014-11-00509 ,General Santos: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.

[2] “Resolution,” (Case No. 2014-11-00509, Quezon City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 6.

[3] Victim’s Affidavit, 1.

[4] “Resolution,” 6.

[5] Victim’s Affidavit, 1.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Resolution,” 6.

[8] Victim’s Affidavit, 1.

[9] Ibid., 2.

[10] “Resolution,” 6.

[11] Victim’s Affidavit, 2.

[12] “Resolution,” 6.

[13] Ibid., 8.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 6.