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: NIÑOVER EMMANUEL MABIDA I
XAVIER UNIVERSITY – ATENEO DE CAGAYAN
Ferdinand Marcos Sr. addressed the nation via television and radio on September 23, 1972, to announce that he had imposed Martial Law in the Philippines. He justified this, among others, by saying a large Communist force that had gotten weaponry from China was attempting to destroy the government and infringe on the tranquil lives of regular Filipinos. Marcos Sr. even compared the country’s current predicament to a war, which he vowed to put an end to.
To combat the threat of Communism, Marcos announced that he would establish Martial Law in the Philippines, as defined by the President’s powers in the 1935 Philippine Constitution. He would assume command over the Philippine Armed Forces. He also became an absolute authority over the arrest and release of any person charged for any offense. He claimed he would use these powers to lead the Philippines to an era of peace. On the contrary, because of this declaration, the Philippines fell to one of the darkest – if not the darkest – ages it had been through. Reports of people who were missing, detained, and tortured were widespread. For this article, we will discuss and learn about one of the Martial Law victims, Charito, who might have experienced all the aforementioned injustices.
Charito was born in Ilocos Norte in 1962. Although most of the information about his background is unknown, his wife, Divina, shared the untold truth about the death of his husband.
In late 1983, Charito’s family went to their place in Ilocos Norte to celebrate the upcoming new year. Early the next year, while making arrangements and preparing for the trip to go home, SPO2 Raymundo Santos , the brother of Charito’s wife and a member of the police force in that said area warned the family saying “… [Charito] should be careful because he has been included in the police blotter as a suspected member of the NPA. There was an encounter between the military and the NPA in [his] barangay yesterday morning.” Due to the warning, they postponed their supposed leave that day. But in the early dawn of the next day, a group of armed men called the attention of Charito. He responded to the call but his father, Ferdinand , stopped Charito on his way, telling his son to back off and let him handle the situation. Though his father tried, they still wanted to have Charito, saying that “Ka Rusel” is looking for him and that they would be back tomorrow. Charito went along with them based on this condition, but they never did come back.
A few days later, as Charito still hadn’t returned, Ferdinand asked for his son’s whereabouts out of concern to a group of NPA members who had passed by their house. Ferdinand told them that a certain Ka Rusel called for his son. To his shock, the group informed him that Ka Rusel never called for Charito. The next day, Ferdinand went to different possible places where Charito might be. He went to the house of his kumpadre, who was a member of the police force. Coincidentally, his kumpadre and other policemen had recently finished burying a certain body. Ferdinand asked if he was able to determine the body they buried and his kumpadre confirmed to him the sad news that it was the body of Charito. Prior to his death, friends and acquaintances of his father claimed that they saw Charito being dragged by a police car with a rope tied to his neck. Ferdinand’s kumpadre confirmed that he was tortured before he died – hearing the cries of pain and agony of his friend’s son.
Charito’s origin and story is almost unknown. He suffered a miserable and lonely death. In 2014, Charito’s wife filed a claim on his behalf, hoping to get her husband recognized and compensated by the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB), an agency mandated to process claims of alleged human rights violations victims in order to honor them and provide reparations. After the Board processed the claim for Charito, he was awarded the maximum 10 (ten) points, as he was confirmed to have been killed under the custody of the authority by State agents. As such, today, Charito is a duly recognized human rights violations victim, one of the many who were killed during the Marcos regime.
 “Declaration of Martial Law,” Martial Law Museum, accessed May 22, 2022, https://martiallawmuseum.ph/magaral/declaration-of-martial-law/.
 Katerina Francisco, “Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history”, Rappler, September 22, 2016, accessed May 22, 2022, https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/146939-martial-law-explainer-victims-stories/.
 “Marriage Certificate” (Case No. 10-2014-01-0001, Ilocos Norte: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Claimant’s affidavit (Case No. 10-2014-01-0001, Ilocos Norte: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. NPA refers to the New People’s Army.
 Ibid, 2.