MANILA — For Michael Morden, he still considers his ordeal in a military safe house during the martial law period a great ordeal.
He said that, people “who say that the Philippines was better off during martial law do not know anything about what happened.”
“They were not there. They did not experience it. That was the darkest moment in our history. I hope martial law will not be imposed again,” said the 53-year-old Morden.
His experience, despite happening some 30 years ago, continues to haunt him. As a matter of fact, every time he recoils each time he remembers his detention in Pangasinan province in 1984
“No one knew then that we had been arrested. They could have killed us all without anyone knowing about it,” said Morden, one of seven activists who were arrested in Dagupan City.
Morden shared that his captors kept him and the other activists for almost a month. They were led from one safe house to another as their relatives look for them.
Come the time that they were located, former Information Minister Gregorio Cendaña announced that they were “high-ranking” officers from the Communist Party of the Philippines.
However, Morden said that he was only a youth organizer that time. He was only 11 when Martial Law was declared by then President Ferdinand Marcos.
“During the first two weeks of our arrest, we were tortured every day. I was shocked with electricity and beaten up. At one point, I was taken to an open field and a gun was poked into my head,” Morden said.
He shared the same house with other people who were also captured that time. In his mind, he knew that all of them were undergoing the same treatment because Morden sometimes could hear them scream as they were tortured.
“People would come to ask us questions. They would wake us up in the middle of the night and interrogate us. They also did not feed us well. They were trying to break our spirit,” he said.
He added, “Martial law was harsh. It did a lot of damage to our country. Those in power then could do anything they wanted. There were involuntary disappearances, human rights violations, summary executions, name it.
After an international and local human rights group convinced that Morden and his companions were illegally arrested, they were release in 1985.
Morden then started an agricultural trading business in Urdaneta. After 10 years, he closed it and began selling bonsai.
Despite what he went through, Morden said that he had no regrets about turning against the dictatorship of Marcos – even if he nearly died because of it.