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: ROH MARETH SALINDO
XAVIER UNIVERSITY – ATENEO DE CAGAYAN
In March of 1982, Philip went to visit a friend in Davao City. As he was about to leave his home, armed men in civilians’ clothing walked towards him and placed him under arrest without any warrant. Philip was boarded onto the men’s jeep, and brought to a park in Davao City to be interrogated. In between being kicked and punched, Philip was forced to identify the name of a person he had no recognition of. When he could not respond, his captors placed him under the scorching sun for about two hours. Phillip was then transferred to a camp in Davao City, where he was detained for one week.
Philip did not expect that it would go this far. It was in the camp wherein he learned that the armed men who arrested him were state agents from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Intelligence Unit. They suspected that Philip was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), and arrested him without any warrant. Philip mentions that after a week of detention, he was then transferred to another camp in Camarines Sur.
Philip was detained for four months at the camp. Afterwards, he was once again transferred to a second camp in Camarines Sur, where he spent three more months in detainment. As Philip spent more time in the camp, many undesirable things happened to him. He was turned into a servant and was forced to work for the military officers. This slavery did not go without any abuses, as Philip still experienced abuse from the military men. He details that he was kicked, punched and hit with random objects.
One day, a sergeant named Zaballero invited Philip to come with him to his hometown in Iloilo, explaining that he would just rot and die if he remained in the camp. Philip obliged and joined Sgt. Zaballero at his home, where he was treated as a helper in the household. In an unexpected turn of events, as Sgt. Zaballero concluded his leave period, he told Phlip to return to his home in Davao City, and not to go back to the detention center in Camarines Sur anymore, as there were actually no charges filed against him. Philip mentions that he was grateful to have made it home before Christmas in that same year in 1982. But after spending so many months in detention, Philip, upon his release, felt old and exhausted, was riddled with body pains, and was extremely homesick and hopeless. Up to the day he was released, there was never any case filed against him. But since he did not have any sufficient evidence then, for decades, Philip had to endure pain and injustice.
Many years later, Philip was able to file for reparations. Unfortunately, the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) ruled against Philip’s claim for Torture and Arbitrary Detention, as he lacked evidence to support these claims. There were claimants who stood up to support Philip, and helped prove that he was eligible for the claim of Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Despite this, Philip was lucky to have affidavits from witnesses of the incident. One of the witnesses, Ricardo, states that being Philip’s neighbor, he has personally known him for two decades, and that he was arrested by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, led by certain Col. Ocampo. Another witness, Filomena, also stated that she has personally known Philip due to their status as neighbors, and like Ricardo, mentions that she was aware of how Philip was taken and detained by members of the AFP. Due to evidence presented, the Board ruled in favor of the claim for Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as defined in R.A. 9745 sec. 3(b).
There had been a long lasting impact on the life and well-being of Philip. Whatever the injustices he had experienced under the perpetrators, the trauma will remain with him for the rest of his life. No matter how hard Philip tries to overcome his ordeal, the scars have affected not only his physical being, but also his mental health.
The story of Philip describes how human rights violations victims were treated unjustly. In the case of Philip, accusing and arresting victims without presenting any evidence or arrest warrant goes against one’s human rights. If stories like this are not given attention to, there may be a possibility that obliviousness or historical amnesia towards these matters could lead to a repeat of history. It is very important for us Filipinos to have knowledge about the past, so that moving forward, we remain aware and vigilant towards patterns of the abuse of power, that in turn, may have us facing the consequences and suffering.
 “Resolution,” (Case No. 2014-11-00832, Davao City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.
 Victim’s Sworn Statement, (Case No. 2014-11-00832, Davao City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.
 Ibid., 2.
 “Resolution,” 2.
 Ibid., 2.
 Victim’s Affidavit, 1.
 Ibid., 2.
 Witness Affidavit (Case No. 2014-11-00832, Davao City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.
 Second Witness’s Affidavit, (Case No. 2014-11-00832, Davao City: 2014), accessed through the archives of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, 1.
 Ibid., 2.