Stories of Torture During Martial Law

At approximately 1:00:01 of ‘The Kingmaker’, available via this link on Vimeo, journalist Pete Lacaba, Activists Etta Rosales and May Rodriguez recount the horrors of torture they experienced while incarcerated for subversion.


Etta Rosales: Ferdinand Marcos mobilized the military and the police in order to perpetuate himself in power/

Imelda Marcos: Martial Law, that was best years of Marcos because that was when he was able to give the Philippines sovereignty, freedom, justice, human rights

Pete Lacaba: Martial law was declared there were a lot of journalists who were critical of the government had been arrested but since I eluded the arresting unit I went underground.

May Rodriguez: I was going to a secret house when the door was opened 3 strange men were there and they pulled me in. They made me sit and tied my hands and blindfolded me and started hours of questioning.

Etta Rosales: I was a teacher one thing led to another I got involved to meet as five people was enough to arrest you and detain me and convict me of subversion

Pete Lacaba: We were taken to a barracks for enlisted men. They hit me in the chest and they made me squat and while I was squatting they hit my shins with a bamboo handle.

Etta Rosales: The electric shocks they were really painful. They would increase the voltage everytime you ‘lied’ to them.

Pete Lacaba: They do what they called the San Juanico Bridge They made me lie down between two beds with my head on one bed and my feet on the other and my body hanging in the air. I would fall from the pull of gravity then they would get me to go up again to lie down on air again, to do the San Juanico again.

Etta Rosales: Isnt it cynical? ‘The Bridge of Love’ for a set of people, becomes a method of torture for another set of people

May Rodriguez: I was really scared they were going to rape me, they made me lie down. So they started to take my panties out, I don’t know who because my eyes were blindfolded, I only knew that both my arms and my legs were being held down and someone started running his hands all over my body. Then some finger went in. And they said ‘you probably have small letters hidden inside.’ By then I wasn’t fighting I was numb, I was ready for it.

Etta Rosales: I was burned with a candle I was molested, sexually by agents of the state.

So the fingers were going in and out, and there was a radio call. The radio call said bring the girl in. No hands were holding me anymore, but I couldn’t get up. It wasn’t from the beating it was from the uhh, disillusionment that people, people as in persons, can actually do these things to another.

Etta Rosales: And some of those who tortured me were actually students of mine who were planted in the schools to spy on us.

Pete Lacaba: My brother while I was in prison decided he would join the resistence at some point the commander of the military unit that caught them decided ‘ah let’s not bring them to the camp anymore. Kill them. He was 27 at the time. They were not officially executed, that’s it that’s why its called extrajudicial executions. Extrajudicial killings.

Etta Rosales: My body was traumatized I had no control over the tremors. The agents they came to me and they said, Ma’m can we continue with the history classes? So what did I do? I taught them, I helped them. It helped me recover. Cause to them in Filipino they’d say, ‘Walang personalan, trabaho lang yan.’

May Rodriguez: I felt proud about myself, I stood up to them, we did not give away any (unintelligible), it sort of like washed away the pain because I bought their safety.


70,000 people were incarcerated. 35,000 were tortured, 3,200 killed.