Opinion

Leni Robredo shares the stories of Martial Law martyrs

No whiff of historical revisionism or Martial Law denialism here: The Vice President shares the stories of the true heroes of the bloody Marcos regime.
ILLUSTRATOR Office of the Vice President
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To commemorate the 44th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, the social media of the Office of the Vice President have been sharing the stories of Filipinos made martyrs by Ferdinand E. Marcos' bloody rule.

In her official statement released on the 21st, Vice President Leni Robredo—which we like to think of as one of the very few bastions of sanity and decency in the Executive Branch—called on Filipinos "to remember the 70,000 who were imprisoned, the 34,000 who were tortured, the 3,240 who were killed, and the 390 who disappeared during one of the darkest periods of our history. They were fathers and mothers. They were brothers and sisters. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that their stories are neither forgotten nor twisted for political purposes and ambitions."

Robredo has gone beyond soundbites: Immediately following publication of her statement, her social media released unflinching biographies of the martyrs of Martial Law—those detained under the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, those who disappeared, those who were tortured, those who were raped, those who were murdered, and often following their questioning of Marcos' totalitarian regime. 

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It's a far cry from the florid pro-Marcos historical revisionism that the official page of the government has tried to shove down the Internet's throat for Marcos' birth anniversary, or their terse one-liner marking the declaration of Martial Law. (For the eagle-eyed: The Official Gazette shared an article on how September 21 wasn't the anniversary of the declaration, never mind that their caption said otherwise.)

Some of the stories that the VP's office has shared:


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Liliosa Hilao is considered to be the first female casualty and martyr of Martial Law. On April 6, 1973, she was declared dead after being detained by the authorities, when she demanded to see a warrant from the police who'd come to arrest her brother. The VP's office shares: "According to the official report, Lilli committed suicide by drinking muriatic acid. Her autopsy said otherwise: Her face was severely swollen, her lips bore cigarette burns. Her arms had numerous injection marks, possibly from 'truth serum,' a torture method used on victims. Her torso was mottled with finger marks and gun-barrel marks. It was also possible she was sexually abused." Read more.


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Boyet Mijares' father Primitivo served as the chief propagandist of the Marcos government—who, during the regime, grew disenchanted with Martial Law, and testified before U.S. courts about Marcos' human rights abuses. (Primitivo would publish The Conjugal Dictatorship, a tell-all about the Marcos' high life.) This sealed his and his son's fate: After a disappearance, "Boyet’s body was riddled with stab wounds, his skull bashed in. His genitals were mangled, and his eyes were protruding. Boyet’s mother, then judge of Manila, was able to obtain information that Primitivo was made to watch while men tortured his son. Primitivo has never been found." Read more.


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One of the more well-known faces of the students rights movement, Edgar Jopson would get to sit down with Ferdinand Marcos for a dialogue in the Palace. "In that meeting, Edjop demanded that Marcos promise—on a piece of paper—that he would not run for a third term. Marcos, offended at the youth’s cheekiness, snapped, 'Who are you to tell me what to do? You're only a son of a grocer!' Edjop responded: 'Honest grocer naman.'" Read more.


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The 21-year-old Archimedes Trajano questioned Imee Marcos during the open forum about her father’s involvement in human rights atrocities. He also asked her: "Must the Kabataang Barangay be headed by the president’s daughter?" As the VP's office shares: "That was the last time anyone saw Archimedes alive. His bloodied body was found on the streets of Manila. Official reports said he had gotten into a dormitory fight, but witnesses came forward saying they saw Archimedes being dragged out of the venue by Imee’s security escorts. It is believed Archimedes was tortured for 12 to 36 hours before he died." Read more.

Never forget. Never again.

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About The Author
Sasha Martinez
Sasha Martinez served as the head writer and social media director for the PCDSPO. She regularly reviews books for Esquire, and has also contributed fiction to the magazine. Her short stories have been honored by the Philippines Free Press and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Foundation, among other literary institutions.
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