Nov7:CLASS MEMBERS, ORIGINAL PLAINTIFFS IN CASE VS MARCOS TO COUNSEL SWIFT: CONSULT US ON THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
NEWS RELEASE – 7 November 2010
The daughter of one of the original named plaintiffs in the historic class suit versus former President Ferdinand Marcos and class members among the 9,539 plaintiffs in the said class suit today raised questions on the proposed settlement agreement negotiated by counsel Robert Swift on the Marcos ill-gotten wealth which are in the name of Jose Y. Campos or the corporations owned or controlled by Campos.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, whose parents are lead plaintiffs in the class suit and is the current chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) as well as the human rights alliance KARAPATAN, said class members were able to know of the said settlement agreement only during the last week of September this year upon receiving the class notices.
SELDA, an organization of former political prisoners since Martial Law and established in 1984, led the Marcos victims in filing the class action suit against former Pres. Marcos for crimes against humanity in April 1986, two months after the EDSA People Power I. In September 1992, the US Federal District Court of Hawaii decided in favor of the 9,539 Filipino victims and ordered the Marcoses to pay the victims almost $2B for damages. In 1997, the Swiss Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the then US$540 million Marcos ill-gotten Swiss deposits to an escrow account of the Philippine National Bank, in favor of the Philippine Government.
“As in the previous agreements which our class counsel tried to enter into, we have requested for Atty. Swift to consult the named plaintiffs and class members on this recent settlement agreement, yet he refuses to do so. In the interest of transparency and in accordance with his duty, he should duly consult the class members on the contents and issues of the settlement,” Hilao-Enriquez said. She is among the four Hilao siblings who were arrested, tortured and detained during Martial Law, while one of them, Liliosa, was raped and murdered.
“While we welcome his efforts to supposedly collect money for the compensation of Marcos’ victims during martial law, we would like to remind Atty. Swift to always consult the victims every step of the way of such agreements,” Hilao-Enriquez said. “In order for class members to make informed and intelligent decisions, they must not be kept in the dark about the details of such negotiations so that it is not only left to the counsel to make unilateral decisions as such would have ramifications to a large number of class members,” Hilao-Enriquez added.
In the class notice sent to and received by some class members, it was stated that “Not all Class Members are eligible to receive payment. The Hawaii Federal Court required Class Members in both 1993 and 1999 to submit Claim Forms. Only those Class Members who submitted complete Claim Forms in each of those years will be eligible to receive payment. It is too late to submit or supplement a Claim Form.” Such decisions must be explained to the class members especially on the question of who were delisted and the reasons for such.”
“We would also like to know how the alleged true value of the real estate properties of the Camposes was determined in this new agreement and was valued at US$78 million. With this, is it not in the interest of the class members to proceed with the litigation instead of the $10 million settlement? It is important to know if class members have thoroughly studied the agreement, with all our questions answered and if we are amenable to the said settlement. This is not just about money, it is one of the ways of realizing justice as victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship,” Hilao-Enriquez pursued.
SELDA reiterated its call for Atty. Swift to conduct a consultation with the plaintiffs and class members and answer the questions posed before him. ###