The Arrest

AS the nation observed the 38th anniversary of the Martial Law Proclamation, on September 21, 2010, one can only wonder whether indeed the Filipino is worth sacrificing for, or as the martyred Ninoy Aquino puts it, the Filipino is "worth dying for" , given ail the frustrating events that followed.


I was among the local mediamen who, as perterminology of the late Col. Antonio "Tony" Barrameda, the then provincial commander of the Philippine Constabulary of Camarines Sur, were placed under "protective custody" of the military.In Naga City I was with the eight media personalities, who were detained at Camp Canuto in Sagorong, Pili, Cam. Sur. The news about Martial Law Proclamation dealt a double whammy the local mediamen particularly the broadcasters.


They were too pre- occupied attending the victims of the collapse of the Colgante Bridge during the Fluvial Procession on September 18, 1972 (should be September 17, 1972), which even included a number of broadcasters who either died or survived with injuries.


We were, therefore, morally bound to launch a project in order to solicit some donations for the victims and / or their families. Before we could finish our task or even render an accounting to the public, Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. The news did not immediately catch the attention of Bicolanos, particularly the broadcasters because of the Colgante tragedy. In fact, the detention of the local mediamen came already a few days after Press Secretary Francisco "Kit" Tatad read on television and radio Presidential Proclamation No. 1081.


My placement under "protective custody" came at a very paradoxical moment. On September 26, 1972, I went to my radio station DZDR to take some personal belongings considering that the radio station was already padlocked by the authorities. Among such items were books I needed for law studies.


Having been told that the station was already padlocked, I decided to proceed to the PC headquarters at Barlin St., which was just a few steps away from DZDR. When I arrived there, Paco Felicidario, who seemed to be acting as an informal spokesman of Col. Tony Barrameda, confided to me that I was among those in the list of mediamen targeted by the military for placement under protective custody. I verified from Tony Barrameda, whom I considered to be a close friend, the veracity of such information and he confirmed it. So, I requested the military commander to just give me time to bring my personal belongings home to which he acceded.


When I returned, Fred Tria was already there. He came to verify whether he was also included in the list. He found it to be true. Fred and I then requested Tony Barrameda to just allow us to board a constabulary service vehicle in order for us to be brought to Camp Canuto.


At the military camp, we found out that several mediamen were already there ahead of us. They were Tony Carpio, Luis General, Jr., Mon Brillante, Leon S. Palmiano, Jr. aka "Sitong Tuyaw", Ely Compuesto and Nonong Trivino. We were assigned our respective rooms by the late M/ Sgt. Ramon Loang. The camp was under the command of then Capt. Ernesto Maristela. Camp Canute during Martial Law was a far cry from its present physical makeup. In the past, enlisted men and the detainees used the same mess hall together. Today it has modern facilities. The place where we used to while away our time which Sgt. Loang was managing, had for its roof nipa shingles. The wall made of bamboo slats.


The Camp armory was right beside the room assigned to me and Mayor Jaime Claveria.


For our physical fitness, we occasionally hiked several kilometers towards the house of former Batangas Congressman Apolonio Marasigan, owner of Hacienda Marasigan which is occupying a large portion of barangay Sagurong.


Outside the camp there was a sound system whose owner was an acquaintance of Sitong Palmiano.


Inside the camp there were basketball and volleyball courts. The latter was the favorite of Nonong Trivino and myself, where we played even if there was a drizzle, more particularly, during moments when family members visited some of our companions. Nonong and I had to busy ourselves playing volleyball in order to avoid being asked for information about whatever questionable affairs some of us may have had even during detention.


The way to Camp Canuto from San Jose Pili was what some considered as first class bad road. Today the road towards the camp is already partly concreted, it being a portion of a newly- developed subdivision.


Chapter 1 of Stalag 1, notes of a martial law victim, written by Atty. Henry V. Briguera published on November 13, 2010. A reprint.