Archimedes Trajano

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Archimedes Trajano
Died1977 (aged 21–22)[1]
OccupationStudent activist
Newspaper article with headline of President Marcos declaring Martial Law

Archimedes "Archie" Trajano (1956—1977) was a Filipino student activist during the Martial law in the Philippines whose death is attributed to Imee Marcos, daughter of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.


At the time of his activism, Trajano was a student at the Mapua Institute of Technology.[2] During the First Quarter Storm and after the President's subsequent declaration of Martial Law in the country, violations of human rights were rampant, especially against student activists. Some of the relevant cases of human rights violations are "The Group of the 21" case, and "The Group of Three" case (The Piopongco case).[3] These violations were made possible by the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus which legitimized the arrest and torture of people deemed enemies of the state.[4]


On Wednesday, August 31, 1977, Trajano attended the open forum held at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila where 21-year-old Imee Marcos, the eldest daughter of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was the speaker. During the forum, Trajano, who was also 21 years old at the time, questioned the appointment of Imee Marcos as the director of the Kabataang Barangay (National Youth Council). He asked, “Must the Kabataang Barangay be headed by the president’s daughter? She would not have gotten the position if she weren't the daughter of the president," which allegedly irritated Imee Marcos. Trajano was forcibly thrown out of the open forum, and was subsequently blindfolded, and then beaten by Marcos' bodyguards. The forum would be where Trajano was last seen alive.[2]

On September 2, 1977, Trajano was found dead with signs of beating and torture apparent and his body and face severely mangled. His mother Agapita Trajano recalls, "He was covered in a white sheet, lying on a table. And when I opened the sheet . . . I saw him black and blue”. As almost all media outlets at the time were controlled by the government, Trajano's death was not reported in local newspapers. An article released in an issue of the Bulletin Today the day after his death simply talked of deaths in college campuses "due to hazings conducted by fraternities".[1]

Trials and convictions[edit]

Trial and conviction in Hawaii[edit]

It was only nine years after Trajano's death, on March 20, 1986 was Agapita Trajano able to file a case against Imee Marcos and Fabian Ver (Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) in Hawaii, because the Marcoses were not in power anymore. Imee Marcos would admit in court knowledge of Trajano's fate but claims it was "none of [her] business]".[5] Marcos and Ver were charged with false imprisonment, kidnapping, wrongful death, and the deprivation of rights of Archimedes Trajano. Imee Marcos defended herself by claiming immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. This act exempts foreign agents from prosecution. However, the court denied her arguments for two reasons: one, the crime was committed beyond the scope of her official work and duties, and; two, she did not act upon the authority of the government but acted on her own authority.[3]

Ultimately, The Hawaiian court ruled in Trajano's favor. Their decision stated: “…judgment was entered based on the court’s findings that Trajano was tortured and his death was caused by Marcos-Manotoc." The court concluded that this violation of fundamental human rights constitutes a tort in violation of the law of nations under 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and awarded damages of $4.16 million and attorneys’ fees pursuant to Philippine law."[6] The case exposed the faults of the act of state doctrine, and paved ways for similar suits to be filed.[3]

Philippine court decisions[edit]

However, Trajano was not able to receive the payment from Marcos because the Philippine Supreme Court barred the decision. The Trajanos attempted to collect the money by filing a case in the Pasig Regional Trial Court. The court summoned Marcos but she did not appear. The court subsequently ruled in favor of the Trajanos by default.[5] Afterwards, Imee Marcos filed a case to the Supreme Court, stating that the summons on her was invalid.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c n.a. “Death in the Campus.” Bulletin Today, September 1, 1977
  2. ^ a b Robles, Raïssa. "OPINION: Imee Marcos told US court – yes, Archimedes Trajano was tortured and killed but it's none of your business".
  3. ^ a b c Mendoza, Meynardo. "Is Closure Still Possible for the Marcos Human Rights Victims?" Social Transformations: Journal of the Global South 1, no. 1 (2013): 127. doi:10.13185/st2013.01106.
  4. ^ Guerrero, Leon Ma. Why martial law?: a historical approach to martial law in the Philippines. Manila: The Author, 1975.
  5. ^ a b Robles, Raïssa. 2017. "OPINION: Imee Marcos Told US Court – Yes, Archimedes Trajano Was Tortured And Killed But It's None Of Your Business". ABS-CBN News. Accessed April 15, 2017.
  6. ^ 2017. Hrlibrary.Umn.Edu. Accessed April 15, 2017.,%20%20978%20F%202d%20493.pdf.
  7. ^ "G.R. No. 130974". 2017. Sc.Judiciary.Gov.Ph. Accessed April 15, 2017.