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: Noreen Gwyneth P. Sajulan
Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan
Mario is a farmer in Albay who was born in 1952.He is one of the people who experienced the cruelty of Martial Law under former President of the Philippines Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr.
According to Mario, back when he was a young man in 1975, he was tilling land in a farm lot when one of his relatives arrived, relaying a message from Mario’s father. He was told that he needed to return to his parent’s home because his mother was gravely ill. He immediately left but due to the distance between his house and the main road, missed the last jeepney that traveled to where his parents lived. He chose to walk the entire distance instead, which was six kilometers long, because he was deeply concerned for his mother’s condition.
Along the way, he heard the sound of a running vehicle which prompted him to stop walking and stay put near a bridge. Mario wanted to see if he could ask the driver for a lift, but soon realized that the vehicle belonged to the military. It halted where he stood and two soldiers stepped out, asking him what he was doing outside during the curfew. Mario clarified why he needed to get home quickly, but the soldiers paid no mind to his explanation. They beat him until he lost all consciousness.
When he woke up, Mario realized that he was laying amongst large rocks under the bridge. He found that he could no longer move his two legs. He then crawled up to the main road and waited out the rest of the night for someone to pass by and help him. It was already around dawn when, finally, a firewood-vendor with a cart passed by. He asked to be taken to his parents’ house. Because of the incident, Mario’s parents forbade him to go back to his own home, and instead sent for his wife and children to live with them as well.
Mario was one of the more than 9,000 victims and plaintiffs in the Hawaii Class Action Suit against the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. As such, when he personally filed a claim for reparation and recognition to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) in 2014, he was conclusively presumed a victim of human rights violations under Section 17 of Republic Act No. 10368. When he filed for a claim, his parents and wife had already passed away; only he and his children remained, along with the house where he and his parents lived ever since the incident in 1975.
He stated in his application that the incident had caused him a permanent disability, and the only way he had been able to walk since then was to use a pair of crutches. This long-term impact on his physical abilities prompted him to file a claim for Torture to the HRVCB, providing a Sworn Statement in which he recounts what really happened that day. However, the HRVCB’s resolution on Mario’s case emphasizes that acts that are to be considered as torture must fall within the definitions provided in Republic Act No. 9745, also known as the “Anti-Torture Act of 2009.” The HRVCB thus found insufficient basis for his claim of Torture, because Mario was technically not in the military’s custody. His maltreatment was also not used in a systematic or regular manner, and was not used as a technique to force him into giving information or confessing to any act. Unfortunately, a random and isolated act of violence, such as Mario’s abuse at the hands of the military, does not constitute physical torture under the law. Nevertheless, given the law’s conclusive presumption in favor of Mario, a finding of Physical Injuries was granted to him by the HRVCB.
 “Application Form for Reparation and\/or Recognition” (Case No. 2014-05-00030), filed by claimant to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board in 14 July, 2014; “Civil Registry Form No. 1A” (Albay, Office of the Civil Registrar: 2009). Both files were accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.