Today—it’s again a time for looking back at the prints and traces on the paths of yesteryears. Yes, it’s a time so special to anyone’s life and it comes only once in a year, unless one is born in a leap year. And he celebrates his birthday only once in every four years.
Because the government has declared by a special legislation that we victims of human rights violations during Martial Law can claim our share of the 10 billion pesos reparations money stolen by the Marcoses, my reflection goes back to that day—forty years ago—when I fell into the hands of the soldiers of the dictator Marcos.
As follows are excerpts of the Torture Account I have prepared as a requisite document to accompany my Claims application, to wit –
On July 10, 1974, I was apprehended by operatives of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) in the City of Tacloban, Eastern Leyte. Upon sensing that they are coming up to the house where I was staying, I quickly jumped out the window into a vacant lot. Here I was cornered. One of the MIG men who was overlooking from the window had drawn his gun and shot me two times. I was hit on my left foreleg. I sustained a gunshot wound which pierced through the flesh just an inch off the bone.
Coming down to where I stood in the middle of the vacant lot, the MIG man who shot me and another one who triumphantly emerged from a low shack whose wall he violently smashed with his armalite rifle, they then handcuffed me and made me lie face down on the ground. I felt a foot tramped on my back. But I was soon ordered to get up and in no time led me out to the street where a military jeep was parked. I was made to board the jeep and they blindfolded me and drove me away from the city proper to what seemed to be a subdivision.
I was led into a low house and there I was stripped of my clothes, leaving only my underwear. Someone blurted angrily, “Ang tapang-tapang nito!” Then they handcuffed me on both hands, and I was led into a bedroom where they took turns interrogating me, asking all sorts of questions about my activities. Every time I failed or refused to answer a question a fist blow would land on some part of my body.
I was made to stay in this house for two days and two nights. And all this time I was strapped to the bed. In the night, some drunken elements of this military unit would take turns in throwing inane questions to me poking hard fingers into my chest and abdomen from time to time. I hardly had an hour of sleep. What’s worse, my wound was not treated. On the second day, I began to chill. I knew an infection had set in on account of the gunshot wound on my leg.
On the third day, the commanding officer of the MIG arrived. He came from Cebu City along with hislieutenants. When I told him that my wound had not been treated, he ordered someone to fetch a medic from he city’s PC Camp Bumpus to come over. What seemed a doctor treated and dressed my wound. Then an agent came over and asked me a question which I did not answer. All of a sudden the medical assistant to the doctor threw a very hard blow on my lower right chest. I almost fainted in utter pain! For two months I bore the traumatic pain caused by that very strong fist blow whenever I breathed deeply.
They then took me to Cebu City on board a Navy patrol boat. We arrived at around midnight, but an army jeep was on wait at the wharf. I was forthwith brought—blindfolded again—to their headquarters which was impossible for me to determine its location in the city. I was again strapped to a spring bed in a room all alone. The lone window was closed all the time. There was only one door that led to a kitchen where the water closet was situated. It was here I would be led into whenever I wanted to defecate or take a bath. But there was a big Pepsi Cola bottle beneath my bed to serve as a urinal.
In this room I was confined for close to two months. It was an eternity of unspeakably torturous days and nights inside this MIG room. There was constant fear that I might be “salvaged”. One time, I woke up deep in the night, and it was very dark and very quiet, and I found out that both of my hands were handcuffed and fastened to both sides of the bed. Then I felt someone was in the room who stepped close to my bed, unbuttoned my shirt and ‘walked’ his steely finger on my chest down to my abdomen below the navel. I was extremely scared I cried quietly, trying to control the shaking of my body, utterly tormented with the thought I may no longer see the light of day, until I pissed on my pants in bed!
One evening they brought me out to a jeep. When I asked them what they were going to do with me, they replied, “We’ll just roam around”. But I was extremely scared I quavered and was crying inside of me. Perhaps to ward off my fright I remarked, “If you are going to kill me, please give me the benefit of showing your face to me before I die”. An unfamiliar voice said, “You’re very sentimental Don”.
They blindfolded me and drove me around several corners. Then I was made to get off and was led to a building and into a room which I could tell was quite bright in spite of my blindfold. They soon made me lie on a stilted narrow bed. Or what seemed a table? And soon hands gripped my ankles, my wrists and my hair. I asked them, “What are you going to do to me? Are you going to torture me?”
Someone said, fondling the fresh scar on my leg, “How’s your wound?” But suddenly the gripping hands tightened. Then I felt a rubber band wound tight around my right biceps. Some deft fingers felt for my blood vessel on my forearm. I ventured to speak out as a syringe pierced into my vein, “What is that, sodium pentothal?” It was all quiet as the drug flowed into my body. I swore to fight the drug, but I soon passed out.
When I regained consciousness I caught myself swearing invectives against my torturers, fuming with anger and utter disgust. I was cursing “You’re devils! You’re black-hearted creatures! There are no bounds to your evil ways!” and words to that effect. When my fury subsided, they led me back to the jeep and brought me back to the MIG quarters.
This was just a fraction of what I underwent under the military elements of Marcos during my solitary confinement.
This day—July 10—is my birth day anniversary. It was impossible for the remarkable events that happened to my life on this day in 1974 and onward to all the years during my detention to escape from my remembrances.