Bicam panel fails to reach decision on compensation for Marcos human rights victims

Karen Boncocan | Inquirer.net

Former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The bicameral conference committee on the on human rights compensation bill for victims during the Marcos regime on Wednesday agreed on several points but still failed to reach a decision on whether to grant compensation for the victims who won in a case filed in Hawaii.

Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares told this to reporters in a chance interview after the meeting, saying that talks scheduled next Wednesday at 9 a.m. were to focus on reconciling the position of both chambers on the Hawaii plaintiffs.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III said that this was “one aspect we still have to talk about.”

“Pero walang napag-awayan. Whenever some issue is taken up there’s a discussion, one side gave in to the other,” he said.

Bayan Muna vs Akbayan

But the issue has caused tension between Colmenares and Akbayan Partylist Representative Walden Bello, whom the Bayan Muna lawmaker earlier slammed for supposedly opposing the House version of the bill. He said that Bello opposed the 80-20 percent compensation for the Hawaii plaintiffs and other claimants.

“Bayan Muna believes that the latest statement of Rep. Bello that the version of the House in the Marcos compensation bill suffers from constitutional infirmities and that the House is about to abandon its version to give Hawaii victims conclusive presumption that they are indeed victims, is an attack against the victims of human rights during martial law,” he said.

But Bello denied raising the issue on the 80-20 percent compensation, hitting back at Colmenares for what he saw as an “unfair and malicious” statement.

He said that it was Senator Joker Arroyo who raised the issue, questioning its constitutionality and fairness. “It was he who raised issue of presumptive conclusion, not me. I found his arguments persuasive since he was involved in the Hawaii process, and there were 6,000 human rights violations not included in the Hawaii process.”

“This is not a case of the House versus Senate version but of what is right,” said Bello.

Bello was abroad on a human rights mission in Laos to look into the disappearance of a Lao activist and lambasted the difficulty to defend himself from Colmenares’ statement.

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