Bill to compensate Marcos victims nears Congress OK

Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 28, 2013

A quarter century after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the government will officially hold accountable his martial law regime for human rights abuses and its victims compensated for their sufferings.

A bicameral conference committee will hold a final meeting Monday to smooth out the final version of a bill that seeks to compensate victims of abuses during the 14 years martial law was enforced before it is submitted for approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Sunday.

Compensation will come from the P10 billion of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities have transferred to the Philippines. The amount that each would receive would depend on what kind of abuse they suffered.

Aside from that, the impending law would hold Marcos responsible for what transpired during his dictatorship.

“Finally, over two decades after the fall of the dictatorship, we will have a law that puts the responsibility for human rights abuses square on the shoulder of Marcos and provides justice for all those who suffered under his reign,” Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said in a statement.

Bello, a member of the bicameral panel, also said the bill would ensure that the younger generation would learn about the atrocities committed during martial law.

It is important to impart the lessons from the Marcos regime to prevent a repeat of the dark period, he said.

“The nation is practically on the verge of forgetting the atrocities committed during the martial law period, and this is not by accident but because of the deliberate revisionist efforts of the Marcos camp to whitewash the memory of that period. Justice also lies in ensuring that Filipinos of all generations will not forget the dark, violent past, and the bill ensures that,” he said.

Contentious issues

Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), for its part, said the bill was all the more significant for formally recognizing that abuses were committed during martial law and that there were those who did not take these sitting down.

“More than the monetary compensation, the bill represents the only formal, written document that martial law violated the human rights of Filipinos and that there were courageous people who fought the dictatorship,” the group said in a statement.

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