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




Rallies usually come as a form of protest over the unjustness of a governing power. For laborers and union members, many participate in rallies and strikes to decry the unethical practices or working conditions of their employment. For the case of Pedro, he was a union leader in Cebu City, who led strikes and rallies against the Marcos administration. He was a factory worker and the president of his union, which was connected to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).[1]

In 1984, Pedro was leading a workers’ strike when the factory management decided to fire him. Nevertheless, Pedro still continued to organize the strike, even leading the Kilusang Mayo Uno rallies in Cebu City against the Marcos administration.[2] Shortly after his termination from work, soldiers from the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and the Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF) visited their home daily, looking for him. The state agents even threatened his wife, Marie, saying that they would kill her if she would not surrender her husband.[3]

In 1985, when Pedro came home one day, he told Marie that he was continuously being chased by soldiers. He also told her that he was once almost arrested, but was able to escape. Later in September of the same year, Maria began to worry because her husband had not come home for several days. One of the witnesses, Mirabel, who was also a union worker, went to see Maria to inform her of what happened to her husband. Mirabel claimed that she accompanied Pedro in Cebu City to organize and meet with workers. After their meeting, armed men in uniform suddenly apprehended them and handcuffed Pedro. Mirabel revealed that Pedro was then taken into a dark area, and shot by the armed men.[4] Mirabel added that it was Pedro’s involvement in the union rallies against the Marcos Dictatorship that made him a target.

In 2014, twenty nine years after Pedro’s disappearance, Marie personally filed claims for reparation and recognition on behalf of her husband, for Enforced Disappearance, Unlawful Arrest, and Deprivation of Livelihood. Unfortunately, due to the lack of evidence, out of the three claims, only the claim for Unlawful Arrest was granted by the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB).[5] As Marie and the witnesses stated, there were no arrest warrants served. As far as Marie knew, there were no charges ever pressed against her husband. Pedro was suddenly just arrested by members of the military, after his meeting with workers from another company.

Pedro’s family still continues to grieve as they accept that he has been long gone. It is frightening to think that a man who, out of his own initiative to look out for his fellow workers, and spoke up against the Marcos dictatorship, one day just disappeared. It should not be the case that one is made a target, when they choose to stand against tyranny. Pedro’s story is one among many other similar cases of disappearance, and it shows how the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos reflects on his constituents; to silence all who oppose his rule.

Stories like this remind us of our history, a dark era in which a path towards helping your fellow Filipino is met with censorship, and even disappearance, violence, and murder. Although it has been fifty years since the declaration of Marcos’ Martial Law, may we look to these stories as inspiration to never falter against tyranny.

[1] “Resolution,” (Case No. 2014-2014-07-00071, Quezon City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Witness Affidavit (Case No. 2014-2014-07-00071, Cebu: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.

[5] “Resolution,” 2.