Marcos’ victims demand payout

Joe Torres | UCANews

Marcos’ victims demand payout
Sufferers of tyranny still wait for compensation

Victims of human rights abuses during Ferdinand Marcos’ 20-year dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s have called for justice and compensation as the country marks the 40th anniversary of the imposition of martial law this month.

At least 100 victims marched to the presidential palace and the Senate building in Manila today to demand what they described as “overdue justice.”

“We are still here,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez of SELDA, an organization of former political detainees. ”Forty is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting.”

After decades of struggling for justice, “impunity still reigns,” Enriquez said.

What the victims of martial law get from the government are only reports of “failure after failure,” she added.

Martial law was declared on September 21, 1972 and lasted until 1981, when Pope John Paul II first visited the Philippines. It was declared to suppress what Marcos claimed to be increasing civil strife and a threat from communism.

Marcos’ subsequent rule became unpopular due to widespread human rights abuses by the military, such as the use of torture on political activists.

After his ouster in 1986, activists filed a class suit against him in a US court where he was found guilty of human rights violations. The Marcos estate was ordered to compensate around 10,000 victims.

Trinidad Herrera, a former political detainee, said a congressional bill designed to do this seems to have “grown mold” in the Senate.

“Our senators should remember that they owe us a law that should have been implemented by now. What are they waiting for, another 40 years?” he said.

The bill was first submitted in 1997 but has yet to pass through Congress.

Once approved and signed into law, the government is supposed to compensate victims using funds seized from Marcos.

“The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election,” Herrera said.

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