Let the voices of the victims be heard in the compensation bill that will be enacted into law

News Release
December 26, 2012

Bicameral committee meeting set in 2013

Let the voices of the victims be heard in the compensation bill that will be enacted into law

The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA today reminded and strongly urged the members of the legislative body to allow the voices of the victims to be heard and formally be worded in the planned harmonized version of the law that will be crafted by members of the Senate and House of Representatives bicameral committee for the compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.

SELDA, the human rights organization that spearheaded the filing of a class suit against Marcos in Hawaii in 1986, welcomed the passage of the bill on third reading in the Senate on December 17, 2012 as members of the organization have repeatedly conducted several lobby activities in the Upper House for its action.  The Lower House has passed its version on March 21, 2012 yet.

“Our efforts have brought us to this juncture where the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill is on the threshold of being enacted into a law,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson.  “However, we still have to continue to lobby for the law to reflect the victims’ voices.”

In a position paper submitted to legislators last year, SELDA members are pushing for the following provisions to be included in the proposed law:

  • Recognition of the original 9,539 victims and class suit plaintiffs, as well as 24 other individual plaintiffs (21 Filipino US-based expats who filed a case for human rights violations against Marcos in 1986; and  a group of 3 Filipinos, who include Prof. Jose Ma. Sison and his mother, representing his disappeared brother, Francisco, and who filed a similar cases in Hawaii against Marcos on the same year; the cases of the 21 and the 3 were consolidated with the class suit to be called Multi District Litigation 840 or MDL 840) , all of whom filed a case against former President Marcos in the U.S. in 1986 and won after the U.S. Federal Court  and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court issued their rulings on September 22, 1992 and December 10, 1997 respectively, and who have already been validated by the Hawaiian Court as legitimate human rights violations victims during the time of the dictatorship.
  • Inclusion of the victims of enforced disappearance among those who should be considered for the determination of award under Section 16 of Senate Bill 3334.
  • Inclusion of SELDA as one of the members of the commission/committee that will be created and tasked to implement the enacted law.  SELDA pushes for inclusion in the group that will be responsible to identify the victim/claimant.
  • And finally, to remove the section that requires “for a human rights violation to be compensable, the killing, torture or infliction of physical injuries must be committed against a Filipino citizen peacefully exercising civil or political rights.” This will create a difficulty among those who will decide who should be considered as victims who “peacefully” exercised their rights as against those who did not. Anybody can be summarily excluded after having been accused of getting involved in a “non-peaceful” means of exercising his/her civil or political rights.

“The coming year would be a memorable year for martial law victims if the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill will finally be enacted into law containing the provisions we victims want included. That is why even during the holidays, victims must continue to monitor and lobby to make sure that the law is not just enacted to prettify the Aquino government and deodorize its ugly human rights record among the public and in the community of nations,” Enriquez stated.

SELDA has been pushing for a law to indemnify victims of human rights violations as a component of justice, including victims of martial law. SELDA members have repeatedly believed and said that components of justice are recognition of victims of human rights violations, indemnification of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and their punishment, apology to victims and a promise from perpetrators of non-repetition of human rights violations.  This way, impunity will be lessened, if not completely curtailed.

“We have declared that a law for the reparation of victims of the Marcos dictatorship is only a battle won in our lifelong struggle for justice. So long as implementers of Martial Law remain unpunished, we will not tire of seeking justice for their victims.” Enriquez ended. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 09209466207
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