By Raïssa Robles
My heart is full.
But I know the battle has just begun for the hearts and minds of the Filipino people over the kind of future they want.
Do they want a dictatorship or a democracy? Do they want to hand over their civil liberties to one man who has promised them a glowing future or do they want to fix the current elite democracy and fight for one that is more just and inclusive.
When I was writing this book nearly all of last year, it was a very lonely occupation. But now that it is out of the bag, so to speak, I find myself surprised, amazed and grateful for the wonderful reception from my colleagues in media. I was only able to tell them at such a very short notice that I was soft launching this book on Marcos Martial Law: Never Again. But they came. And those who didn’t sent words of support.
Suddenly, in a matter of days, this little book which I wrote and Alan edited, went nationwide, global, and viral. The top news sites ABS-CBN, GMA news, TV5 all featured our book launch.
Today, Al Jazeera‘s Rob McBride included my book in his feature on the 30th Anniversary of Edsa –
The top front page story of today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer — ‘NEVER AGAIN’ : MARCOS VICTIM RECOUNTS TORTURE by Niña Calleja for the EDSA People Power Anniversary — centered on the soft launching of our book last Tuesday.
Karen Davila’s Headstart also introduced my book to her viewers this morning and interviewed me on the Marcos resurgence as well as the late Dictator’s role in having detainees tortured. I know that Isagani de Castro of the ABS-CBNNews.com site placed a story on my book launch and Jing Castañeda featured it, But I can’t seem to find the links.
Ah, here’s one of them.
Yesterday, Floyd Whaley of the New York Times also mentioned the book in his piece entitled 30 Years After Revolution, Some Filipinos Yearn for ‘Golden Age’ of Marcos. Floyd’s piece was picked up by the Bangkok Post. And also by Todayonline.com in Singapore.
In addition, Rappler‘s Katerina Francisco – sent by Maria Ressa – featured the launch in a piece entitled, Raissa Robles: ‘We never knew extent of repression under martial law’. This piece was also picked up by an Indonesian news site. Rappler also included this video:
The Latin American Herald Tribune also featured my book’s soft launching in a piece entitled, Crowds Attend Launch of Book about Martial Law under Philippines’ Marcos.
I would like to apologize to the members of cyber Plaza Miranda — who frequently congregate in this site — for being unable to tell them about the soft launching. The venue was quite small and not very accessible.
For those who came at very, very short notice, thank you. For those I wasn’t able to invite, my deep apologies. We are right now still in production but we are determined to have it out by next month.
I will tell you when and I hope you will all come to the launching.
Here is the official press release on the book:
He was lying. As he himself admitted later to US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, his regime tortured Filipinos. In fact, during one torture session in 1982, a military agent told his victim, “you have no human rights here – only human wrong.”
In her book, Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, investigative journalist and award-winning political blogger Raissa Robles guides the reader through a brief history of the atrocities committed by Marcos’ New Society. Current estimates place the count of victims at 3,257 murdered, 40,000 tortured and over 60,000 (a conservative estimate) illegally detained. The victims did not receive the benefit of any legal procedure. They were simply rounded up without any warrants and locked up for as long as it suited the regime. They were labeled “subversives” or “dissidents.” In detention they were called “POVs” – public order violators. Often, no charges were ever filed against them. They were the victims of the military and police – the very institutions that were supposed to protect the people.
Using official records, Marcos’ own books, reports of local and foreign human rights and lawyers’ NGOs, eyewitness accounts and interviews with survivors and military officers, Robles situates the regime’s crimes – which included murders and numerous massacres – within a brief historical narrative that relates how and why Marcos declared Martial Law.
Among the things her book reveals:
Cory Aquino was strip searched several times when she visited her imprisoned husband, Ninoy Aquino.
None of the torturers identified by their victims has ever been punished, or publicly expressed remorse.
Up to now, the government has not released the exact statistics on the prisoners held by the regime; or the number of soldiers who died protecting the dictatorship.
Some perpetrators of a massacre of 45 men, women and children in Samar in 1981 were linked by survivors to security forces protecting a logging company owned by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile.
Robles also gives new information on the mysterious disappearance of Primitivo Mijares, the journalist turned Marcos confidante who deserted the regime and turned whistleblower, and the murder of his teenage son Luis.
Martial Law’s atrocities gave rise to a new gruesome vocabulary of torment: “salvaging” (murder); “hamletting” (forcible relocation); “safehouse (a place for torturing victims). “Tactical interrogation” was the euphemism for torture, which included such techniques as “Meralco” (electrocution), “Nawasa” (waterboarding), “wet submarine” (thrusting the victim’s head into a full toilet bowl), and “dry submarine” (asphyxiation with a plastic bag).
Robles also reveals that while the fall of the dictatorship ended nearly all of the state-sponsored atrocity, it didn’t really stop: there are still disappearances, torture and murder going on, though not in the colossal scale seen in the Marcos regime.
Among the personalities Robles interviewed were President Benigno Aquino III, former President Fidel Ramos, Communist party chief Jose Maria Sison, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., former Senator Panfilo Lacson, General Ramon Montaño, Brigadier General Victor Batac, Brigadier General Resty Aguilar and Colonel Eduardo Matillano.
The book, which was edited by award-winning journalist Alan Robles, is published by Filipinos for a Better Philippines, Inc. Prize-winning book designer Felix Mago Miguel took care of the book cover, over-all design and layout.
It will be soft-launched at 1 PM this Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at the Amphitheater of the Ateneo Professional Schools Building in Rockwell, Makati City. The Collectors Edition will be available in March and can be pre-ordered by e-mailing –
Raissa Robles runs the blog raissarobles.com, a political website that exposed details of former Chief Justice Roberto Corona’s bank and property holdings. Due to her articles on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s properties, she was invited to testify in a Senate probe in 2014. The site won the 2015 Bloggys Award for Best Society and Politics Blog in the Philippines. She is also the senior Manila correspondent of South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong.