Victim of Philippine dictator angry as son leads polls

STORY: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF TORTURE.

When the Philippines was last under national martial law, Cristina Bawagan became a political prisoner.

Then-leader and dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ushered in a brutal era for the country, with violence she still remembers clearly.

And she fears the horror of that time could be whitewashed if his son, Marcos Jr., wins the presidency next week.

"This is the duster (clothing) that I was wearing when they arrested me without a warrant of arrest."

"As you can see, it was torn over here when they were interrogating me, they fondled my breasts and went on with other forms of torture."

Bawagan was an activist arrested by soldiers for alleged subversion in 1981, beaten and abused to extract a confession.

"The hardest thing was that they put an object in my vagina, that was the worst part of it and of course all throughout, I was screaming. No one seemed to hear."

Amnesty International estimates she was just one of 70,000 prisoners during Marcos' rule, and that more than 3,000 were killed.

"The hardest thing was that they put an object in my vagina, that was the worst part of it and of course all throughout, I was screaming. No one seemed to hear."

Marcos Sr. was driven out by a people's uprising in 1986.

But now more than 35 years later, his son is not only running for the Philippines' top job; polls show he stands a chance of winning.

Critics of the Marcos family say it's an attempt to rewrite history.

A fact-checking initiative for the vote - TSEK.PH - told Reuters last month that from November to February, it had debunked scores of martial law-related disinformation, that it said was being used to rehabilitate or erase the record of the elder Marcos.

Wilnor Papa, who works for Amnesty in the Philippines, says accountability is what's on the line.

"We have the human rights claims board recognizing more than 11,000 cases of human rights abuses during the time of Marcos. That's very good and that's something that we have to always remember, but the problem is those who perpetuated the abuses, where are they? None of them are in jail."

While Marcos Jr.'s camp did not immediately comment on Bagawan's story of abuse, he has previously denied claims of spreading misinformation.

One of Asia's most notorious kleptocracies, the Marcos siphoned billions of dollars from the government, and are accused of living lavishly while ruling with corruption and authoritarianism.

Bagawan says victims of martial law like her need to share their stories to counter the portrayal of the Marcos' regime as a peaceful, golden age for the Philippines.

"What more proof do you need? We have all the websites, we have even the supreme court rulings."

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