A hundred thousand were imprisoned without charges and without trial.
Countless women and men were toyed with, tortured, violated.
The body count rose to 14 per day,
The fetid canal running through downtown Manila became the Estero of Death, as the summarily executed were dumped into it.
The looting of the public treasury was so massive it made the Guinness Book of Records.
The currency slid down steadily, destroying families, driving men and women to jobs overseas.
The doorway to all that opened on September 21, 1972 with a simple act of betrayal – a betrayal of mandate, a betrayal of oath of office, a betrayal of the Constitution, a betrayal of the people and of the nation.
After the overthrow, 10,000 former “detainees” – a euphemism for those imprisoned without charges and without trial – took courage in hand and sued the ex-dictator, who had reigned as “president” for 22 years.
They won and were granted by the courts a billion dollars in damages. Not a cent would reach their hands, though that case became a precedent for so many other victims of human rights abuses who got indemnified.
One by one, the 10,000 grew old; some became sick; some died. Collections were taken for those who had no money for burial.
It would be good for the significance of this date to disappear. But it will not because the process of justice remains amputated, incomplete. No one has actually been made to pay for betraying mandate, oath and the Constitution. No one was held accountable for butchering people, raping women, stealing from government… Only the poor who fought grew poorer and realized the irony of the saying “you can’t eat principles.”
This is why impunity does not even amaze any longer in the archipelago. This is its taproot, the start of national demoralization, the enshrinement of Judas.
As long as the process of rendering justice to the imprisoned, tortured, disappeared and murdered remains amputated, futility will be the only lesson for the poor and the powerless.
The lesson will always be that the traitor always emerges victorious, with his 30 pieces of silver, fame and fortune intact, with a fake banner of “honor” waving over his heads and convinced that Judashood is a virtue.
Make no mistake about it: there are those who believe from the bottom of their hearts that the Filipino people are undisciplined, unruly, without honor and values, childish – and need an iron hand and that hand is theirs by right of birth, connection and power. They are biding their time. #