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: RETCHELLE CHRIS E. DUMAT-OL
XAVIER UNIVERSITY – ATENEO DE CAGAYAN
What is your ideal morning? My ideal morning is sipping coffee in a peaceful surrounding. I love to hear birds chirping while I water my flowers. I also love to smell breakfast pancakes cooked by my mom. However, for Rogelio, a fellow Filipino during Martial Law, he suffered from a traumatic morning. Instead of hearing the chirping of birds in the early morning, he heard the sound of gunshots. Instead of enjoying the peaceful surroundings, he was enveloped in chaos. Though there are some who claim that they experienced peaceful and quiet lives during Martial Law, this narrative does not apply to everyone. There are people who had their rights violated by the abusive and emboldened authorities. This is the story of one of Martial Law’s many victims.
In 2015, Rogelio, from Davao del Sur, filed a claim for reparation and recognition to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) and was duly recognized as a human rights violations victim (HRVV). His name has since been included in the Roll of Victims, and through his claim, he was able to share to the world what befell him that one unfortunate morning in 1985. In the early morning of that fateful September day, Rogelio’s daughter informed him that there were armed men present around the area of their home. After just a few minutes, gunshots rang in their direction, and Rogelio was then hit on one of his fingers and in his right foot. Rogelio ran to seek cover but collapsed due to the gunshot wounds he sustained.
Two of Rogelio’s neighbors, Fajer and Jose, who personally knew Rogelio and his son, Anton, proceeded to their house after hearing that it was being shot at. When they arrived, they saw some members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), the paramilitary group attached to the Philippine Constabulary (PC), leaving. When the CHDF men had all left, Fajer and Jose immediately entered Rogelio’s house and saw him struggling and helpless, covered with his own blood due to the injuries he sustained in his hand and leg. The two immediately brought Rogelio to the nearby hospital for medical treatment. Due to this incident and the immediate possible danger, Rogelio’s immediate family members evacuated to the nearby mountains to escape. Rogelio was neither arrested nor detained afterwards, and no case was ever filed or charged against him. As corroborated by Fajer and Jose, Rogelio was shot without any provocation on his part.
In 2015, some 30 years after the incident, Rogelio sought justice for the incident. He managed to produce an affidavit narrating his story and was also able to submit an affidavit from his two neighbors Fajer and Jose. He was also able to submit a certification from the hospital where he was diagnosed to have had a traumatic amputation proximal phalanx, which matched the injury he had described in his affidavit. Thus, upon adjudication of the claim, the HRVCB ruled that Rogelio’s claim had merit, and he was awarded two points for Physical Injuries.
These stories of human rights violations victims must be preserved and conserved to honor the victims and what they have gone through during Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s regime. If Martial Law victims will be simply forgotten, it would be like enabling the abuse, violence and corruption that happened years ago. It is important to keep remembering what happened years ago as a way to continue pursuing justice for the victims and pursuing accountability for the people who should be held accountable to what happened. We should always look back at our history to reveal our identity as Filipinos. Forgetting the worst aspects of our history allows for a huge possibility that it may happen again. We should never forget our history, especially the bad sides of it, to prevent it from being repeated senselessly. Remembering our history is also a way to honor the people who suffered and made sacrifices to make our country a better place. Lastly, history must be a guide for us to do better.
 “Application for Reparation and/or Recognition” (Case No. 2015-11D-01605, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.
 Victim’s affidavit (Case No. 2015-11D-01605, Davao del Sur: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1
 Ibid.; Witnesses’ joint affidavit, “Affidavit” (Case No. 2015-11D-01605, Davao del Sur: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 Victim’s affidavit.
 “Resolution” (Case No. 2015-11D-01605, Metro Manila: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.
 Doctor’s certification (Case No. 2015-11D-01605, Davao del Sur: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
 “Resolution,” 1-2. According to the resolution, however, Rogelio would have to submit his original medical certificate from his medical treatment in 1985 before he can be awarded reparations. There is currently no available information if Rogelio was able to do this.
 John Leo C. Algo, “[OPINION] Time to move on from Martial Law?” Rappler, September 21, 2021, accessed June 22, 2022, https://www.rappler.com/voices/imho/opinion-time-move-on-martial-law/