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




Martial Law is remembered as a period of tremendous turmoil for the country. A situation marked by all sorts of violence, including assassinations, enforced disappearances, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, widespread human rights violations, and major military and political violations of people’s civil freedoms and democratic rights.[1] Nobody truly knows how many victims there were because different organizations claim different statistics. Many Filipinos have been jailed, tortured, and executed without due process as a result of Martial Law. Many perished, many disappeared, but many also lived to tell their story. One of the many Martial law victims is Allan, who was physically abused, illegally detained, and had his properties illegally taken from him.

It was one evening in 1974, when the Special Police, led by a certain Capt. Cagas, broke down the door to Allan’s home in Sorsogon and forcibly entered their home. They made Allan and his family kneel with a gun pointed at them as they probed around without a search warrant, equipped with a mere accusation that Allan was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). They sought evidence that Allan was one of the alleged accomplices of the rebel soldiers. Even if Allan told the truth that he was not acquainted with the NPA, the soldiers did not believe him and allegedly tortured him and his family. After torturing them, the soldiers left their house, threatening them that they will surely come back.[2] Allan and his family were subjected to such torment as a means for the soldier to conduct their interrogation or extract confessions or information.[3]

After three months, Allan was forcibly picked up by armed soldiers and was detained at an area where he met Cendro Mandrano, Gomez Mandrez, Leonard Mandinio who were also victims of false accusations by the Special Police and the Philippine Constabulary.[4] The next day, they were moved to another detainment facility where they were imprisoned for almost nine days. It took some time, but they were eventually released a few months later.[5] However, the fear and trauma that they endured from the predicament remained.

In 2014, Allan filed a claim for alleged torture, arbitrary detention, and the illegal takeover of his property to the newly founded Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB). His case of Arbitrary Detention was found to be warranted. However, the allegations of torture was not approved, due to the R.A 9745 or the Anti Torture Act of 2009 requiring a level of severity of pain or suffering and purposive act before finding torture. Similarly, the allegations of illegal takeover of property was also not approved as the division found no merit in these claims, since Allan was not able to provide details to this aspect of his claim. Nonetheless, the HRVCB’s division in charge of Allan’s case thoroughly evaluated his claims and eventually awarded him three (3) points for Arbitrary Detention, and duly recognized him as a human rights violations victim.[6]

It was without a doubt that there are numerous victims like Allan who experienced such human rights violations under the hands of those in power during the time of Martial Law. Like Allan, there are a lot of victims who fell prey to false accusations that lead to inhuman abuse and detention during those dark times. Stories like the one Allan has experienced are essential in telling the truth, more so in our recent times of disinformation. It is only their right to tell their story for them to be able to get the justice they truly deserve.



[1] Human Rights Watch, “Philippines: Martial Law Threatens Escalation of Abuses,” New York. May 25, 2017,

[2] Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 2014-5D-00090, Sorsogon: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[3] Michelle Maiese, “Human Rights Violations,” in Beyond Intractability, eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder, July 2003,

[4] “Affidavit.”

[5] Ibid., 2.

[6] “Resolution,” (Case No. 2014-5D-00090, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.