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: MARIA ZHANETTE D. YAP
XAVIER UNIVERSITY – ATENEO DE CAGAYAN
One may consider an authoritative presence such as the military to be one to trust. Initially, we shouldn’t fear the military because after all, their duties lie within upholding the safety of citizens. But upon former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s declaration of Martial Law in 1972, the abuse of power given to military forces was inevitable. This is what many human rights violations victims experienced during the era. Gado, a local farmer in Southern Leyte, was a victim of abusive military men.
One morning in 1982, Gado was inside his own home when a military operation by a local Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Constabulary (P.C.) unit was taking place at his barangay. Suddenly, Gado heard loud bangs as the P.C. soldiers were knocking on his door. As soon as Gado opened it, several men grabbed him, took him outside, and violently assaulted him outside his house. Gado states he almost lost his consciousness due to the severity of the injuries he suffered from the state agents.
Succeeding the first assault, the PC men went inside Gado’s house even though no warrant was presented. They ransacked the place and found acupuncture needles and rubbing alcohol, and suspected Gado of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). Gado was interrogated and accused of being a “rebelde” or a member of the NPA. The perpetrators were not satisfied by his firm denial of the allegations, and took him to their camp at another barangay in Southern Leyte. If the initial beating that Gado had gone through was not enough, he faced harsher treatment as soon as he arrived at the camp. He was beaten, kicked, punched, and hit with the end of a rifle, whenever he refused to admit that he was a member of the NPA.
Rita and Alan, two witnesses who were detained with Gado, support the details of his ordeal. They mentioned that Gado went through rounds of exhausting interrogation and torture, all done in a forced and prolonged manner. The gravity of the abuse left his body to swell, his bones to break, and he was left with many scars. Gado recalls that he defecated and urinated in his pants, as he lost strength and control over his own body, constantly fearing that he will soon be killed or “salvaged.”
Two days later, Gado was relocated to a third barangay in Southern Leyte, wherein he was illegally detained in a small space and continuously beaten. Not once did he fight back, as the uniformed men threatened to kill him if he did. Not long after, Gado was again transported to a Provincial Jail in Leyte, where he further experienced illegal detainment and the brutal treatment by his own countrymen. According to his co-detainees, Rita and Alan, Gado was also forced to work as a servant of the officers, wherein he performed the work of a cook, janitor, dishwasher, and errand boy. Gado’s experience of being beaten, detained without a warrant, and threatened for one year and four months led to his emotional, mental, and psychological trauma. Due to the many unexpected transfers, Gado was repeatedly led to believe that he would soon be executed.
Late in 1983, Gado was finally freed from his everyday nightmare in detention. There were no criminal charges filed against Gado, and more so, no arrest warrant was presented ever since he was forcibly taken. The crimes committed by the perpetrators, as state agents, were a clear violation of human rights. Their conduct goes against public officials’ duties on responsibility for the interest of the public, and not for personal gain. This can be particularly said of their resorting to unlawful arrest, inhumane treatment, and forced interrogation.
The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) in 2014 recognized Gado’s claims for Illegal Detention, Maltreatment, and Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment (CIDT), as violations committed against him. The severity of the injuries sustained by Gado had caused fractures on his ribs and dislocations on his backbones, causing him to become unable to work or perform strenuous physical activities. Beyond the physical scars, Gado suffered a lifetime of emotional, mental, and psychological scarring, which greatly harmed his overall wellbeing.
Gado’s story and those of others who suffered similar brutality under the Marcos regime are a part of our history. To forget what happened would be a great disrespect to what the victims had to endure. We owe it to the Filipinos who were wronged and abused, that they may never be forgotten. To forget only enables the perpetrators, empowering them to walk free in this country without any repercussions. Gado’s traumatic story must be reflected upon so that we can fight to reform the system, hold the perpetrators accountable, and give justice to the victims and their families. Never forget what was done, never again tolerate an abusive and barbaric government.
 Victim’s affidavit, (Case No. 2014-08-00571, Southern Leyte: 2014), 1. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Joint Affidavit of Attesting Witnesses/Co-detainees, (Case No. 2014-08-00571, Southern Leyte: 2014), 2. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Victim’s affidavit, (Case No. 6-2014-08-00571, Southern Leyte: 2014), 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Joint Affidavit of Attesting Witnesses/Co-detainees, 2.
 Ibid, 3.
 “Resolution,” (Case No. 2014-08-00571, Southern Leyte: 2014), 2. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Victim’s Affidavit, (Case No. 2014-08-00571, Southern Leyte: 2014), 3.