DAVAO CITY, Philippines — On the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising, former political detainees arrested during the time of Martial Law gathered for their regional assembly at the Brokenshire Chapel here Saturday.
Among the participants of the 8th Regional Assembly of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) in Southern Mindanao Region were Alfonsa Valle and Serapion Torregosa, both from the province of Davao del Sur.
Alfonsa Valle, 64, and secretary of a local chapter of the Selda in Sta. Cruz said 31 years ago, she and her husband who was a former union leader joined the rally held in Digos City.
The couple were both detained during the time of Martial Law.
Alfonsa recalled that on August 8, 1982, almost 10 years after Martial Law was declared, members of the Philippine Constabulary raided their house in Sta. Cruz.
“Gisipa ang pultahan sa balay ug giguyod ko sa bagnutan (The PC kicked the door of our house and dragged me outside),” she told Davao Today in an interview.
She said a 6×6 army truck arrived in their village.
“Naa man toy nangatuog sa amoa atong higayona, mga namaylihan. Wala ko naghunahuna kung kinsa sila basta nakitulog sila SA Uma (There were people who stayed at our house that time. I don’t know who they are but they stayed over night after the dance),” she said.
Then 35-year-old Alfonsa already had five children and was an active catechist in the church. But the PC found that there were people who stayed in their house after a “baylihan” (a dance party during a feast or special occasions in communities).
She said she didn’t know one of those people who stayed in their house was involved in an armed encounter with the PC. She did not say whether they were members of the New People’s Army.
Alfonsa and her mother were taken to the municipal hall in Sta. Cruz before they were imprisoned at the headquarters of the “439 PC Company” in Toril district in Davao City.
She said she was tortured by the investigators, one of whom tried to rape her.
“Kada pangutana kung dili nako ayuhon og tubag pasakitan ko. Ilang pisoon akong baba para mostorya ko (Whenever if they think I don’t give a good answer they will hit me. They will force me to tell what I know),” she said.
She said the investigator took her at a beach in Daliao, Toril.
“He told my mother that I will be investigated, but I was taken on a beach cottage, where the investigator tried to rape me,” she said.
Alfonsa said the memory still haunts her even to this day. No case was filed against the officer.
Meanwhile, Torregosa, 65, from New Quezon in Hagonoy town also in Davao del Sur suffered torture in 1982 when almost all people in their village were accused of being “subversives”.
It was lunch time sometime in 1982 when Torregosa came home from driving his “pedicab” (a modified motocrycle) for a living.
“Grabe uy, daghan ko piang. Duha ka gusok nako ang nabali (I took a lot of beating. I broke two of my ribs because of the torture),” Torregosa said.
He said the PC beat him with a rifle and he was detained for a month and a day.
During the time their house was sold after one of his children caught meningitis while he was in prison.
Four years after the incident, his fear of the PC remained and said he did not join the EDSA People Power rally in their area.
“We might be seen by those who arrested us and the same thing will happen,” he said.
But both of them agreed that there was no significant change more than three decades after the uprising that overthrew President Ferdinand Marcos.
Torregosa lamented that until now, prices of commodities remain high and the wages are low.
“Awa ron naglambo ba diay run? Pirting mahal ang palitonon, pait kaayo, unya sweldo un sa mag-uuma maglimpisa 150 ang adlaw (Look around was there any development? Prices are still high, it’s too difficult.And the salary for a farm worker is only 150 a day, will that be enough for your family?),” Torregosa said.
Valle said the gap between the rich and the poor is still too wide.
“Daghan gihapong pobre ug naa gihapon mga nagpahimulos sa isig katawo (Many are still poor and there are still those who abuse other people),” she said.
If there is one lesson that Valle said she wants her children to learn from the EDSA people power revolt, it is the need for unity to help other people’s lives better.
Valle said she hopes the youth would not stop in struggling to uplift the lives of the poor.
“I hope my children will learn to help the poor who are struggling to have a decent life. I want them to be activists too,” she said in vernacular.
Torregosa added he hopes the children will be taught in school about the real stories of people who were victimized by Martial Law.
“Daghan pa wala nakahibalo unsa gyud ang nahitabo (Many are still ignorant of what really happened),” he said.
He said the next generation should know that they should stand up against the threats of Martial rule.(davaotoday.com)