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




Lorenzo was a teenager in 1972 when he was first arrested by the Philippine Constabulary (PC). Then he was arrested a second time almost two years later – an event that would bring him and his family such pain and humiliation that, even decades later, would compel them to demand justice and recognition for what the PC had done to him.[1] His story unfolds as such:

One day in 1972, Lorenzo was in his home province in La Union, with his friends Jaime Castillo and Piyo Castillo, when soldiers from the local PC Command apprehended them and brought them to the police station. They were detained and interrogated for ten hours, during which they were forced to admit that they were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). They consistently denied this accusation. They were moved to the detention center of the La Union PC Command, where they were detained in a bartolina that was so cramped that they could hardly breathe because of the heat and lack of ventilation. They were detained there for at least one month, still without formal charges, before being transferred to another camp in a neighboring province. There, they were detained for another five months. Lorenzo and his companions were released some time in early 1973.[2]

The second arrest happened in 1974 inside Lorenzo’s school, where he was a high school student. He was brought once again to the local PC Command, where he was repeatedly tortured by a lieutenant and his men. He was slapped, kicked, hit by an M16 rifle butt, electrocuted, and had his head slammed in a dirty toilet bowl. Another lieutenant of the same PC unit also hit him repeatedly and pointed a revolver at his face. All of this was done to force him to give the locations of the Castillo brothers, whom the PC alleged were members of the NPA. Whenever he told them that he did not know their locations, he was once again electrocuted.[3]

Two days later, he was brought to a different camp very far away from home, where he witnessed the interrogation of Ricky, who was a neighbor and friend of the Castillo brothers. The PC insisted that Ricky was a member of the NPA and kept asking him where the brothers were. Simultaneously, Lorenzo’s torture continued. He had to be doused with cold water by his captors several times to wake him up, after he had fainted due to exhaustion and pain.[4]

After five days of interrogation and torture, he and Ricky were brought back to the La Union PC Command, where they were turned over to the National Intelligence Security Authority (NISA) operatives. A sergeant immediately hit and tortured them alternatively and repeatedly, while forcing them to admit that they were members of the NPA.[5]

After two days of this, he was transferred to yet another detention center. There he saw his friend, Piyo, being put inside a bartolina. Lorenzo did not know at the time that Piyo was going to be kept there, alone, for the next six months. He also saw Piyo’s parents and older brother in the Detention Center. The three of them were detained for seven days.[6]

Two weeks later, he was brought to the La Union PC Provincial Commander, who forced him to labor as a gardener, household helper, hollow-blocks maker, and errand boy, without being paid. This became Lorenzo’s life for a period of more than two years.[7]

Lorenzo and Piyo were finally released in 1977. Lorenzo had spent almost all of his teenage years as a political prisoner. Even after this, he was prohibited from traveling outside his province without the permission of the Provincial Commander. Decades later, when he filed for recognition and reparations to the HRVCB, he recalled that he was unable to attend school the entire time he was detained, and that the excessive maltreatment committed on him by the PC had caused him and his family so much agony, shame, restlessness, and rage.[8]

In 2014, Lorenzo personally filed a claim for reparation and recognition to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB), the government body established to investigate and recognize the victims of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.’s martial law years.[9] The actions of the perpetrators were reviewed and evaluated by the HRVCB, which ruled that Lorenzo was eligible for recognition as a victim of Detention, Torture of a Minor, and Other Violations (being Involuntary Servitude, or forced labor).[10]

Almost 50 years has passed since the young Lorenzo was forced to face some of the most cruel aspects of the Marcos Regime. A lot of Martial Law victims were killed and have been forgotten, but Lorenzo survived and has told us his story. This chapter in the story of our country, precisely because many young Filipinos know very little about it, must be told and made known so that the atrocities of the regime are not buried in the depths of history.


[1] Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 2014-14-10077, La Union: 2014), 3. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Victim’s affidavit, 2.

[4] Ibid., 2.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Resolution” (Case No. 2014-14-10077, Quezon City: 2017), 1. Accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Victim’s affidavit, 3.

[9] “Resolution,” 1.

[10] “Resolution,” 2-3.