“Biktima ni Macoy noon! Biktima ni Noynoy ngayon!” This is how the martial law victims describe their situation now with the rigid requirements being asked of them by the BS Aquino’s Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB).
In a press conference today, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, martial law victim and daugther of the lead plaintiff vs. Marcos, Trinidad Herrera-Repuno, one of the expert witnesses in the Hawaii Court, and one of delisted victims Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature, expressed their disgust and raise concerns over BS Aquino’s Human Rights Victims Claims Board system of application for reparation and recognition.
“I have personally witnessed the process of application in the regions of Panay, Bicol and very recently in Southern Mindanao. It is arbitrary, chaotic, inconsistent and most of all, anti-victim,” said Enriquez. Thus, she announced that she will not be filing for her claim under the law that SELDA fought so hard for to be passed.
It can be recalled that Pnoy’s-formed HRVCB said they are expecting at least 20,000 applicants. However, during the past three months of regional on-site intake operations conducted by the claims board, they are not thoroughly prepared to receive applications. They didn’t consider what difficulties the martial law victims may encounter who have to travel from the far-flung barrios just to apply personally within the limited days of regional on-site intake operations of the Claims Board. Many of the victims, who come from the sectors of the urban and rural poor, from landless peasants, have to raise money for their transportation and food just to be able to apply for reparation and recognition dispensed by the law or the RA 10368.
“The claims board asked for too many requirements from the victims, many of which were outrightly unnecessary and even outrageous. The victims are made to line up without any of the so-called respect that should have been accorded them. Biktima na nga, pinapahirapan pa,” said Enriquez.
According to Enriquez, unnecessary requirements include birth certificates from the direct martial law victims, presentation of two government-issued IDs which is not indicated in the claims board application, and original release papers for those illegally detained.
“Does the claims board realize that we are talking about martial law, that military power took over civilian institutions? How do you expect the victims, many of them are farmers and ordinary people to acquire such documents? How could they ask for release papers when these were not available amid rampant illegal arrests and detention?” Enriquez added.
More than 40 years have passed; more than two thousand victims haven’t had a taste of the indemnification of the settlement agreements in the years 2011 and 2014 as provided for in the Swift-crafted settlement agreements for those included in the Hawaii class action suit. They were delisted from the list based on the so-called “order” of the Hawaii Court that claimants must return to the Court the confirmation form sent in 1993 and 1999. This time, under RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, martial law victims demand the claims board to produce the list of 9,539 victims plus 24 direct action plaintiffs for conclusively presumed victims.
If the list of conclusively presumed has been produced at the very beginning, class action suit members need not go back to square one in their application for reparation and recognition. They only have to prove their identity.
“We are demanding that just recognition and reparation be given to the victims. The BS Aquino government should be warned not to disenfranchise victims more by violating the law which we fought for to be passed and implemented. We ousted a dictator who denied the people of their rights. We can do that again now given the same grounds,” Enriquez concluded. ###
MANILA, Philippines – A two-star general was put on a hot seat after critics questioned her qualifications as the newly appointed chairperson of a compensation board tasked to determine who were victims of Martial Law that deserve compensation.
This came after President Benigno Aquino III appointed police general Lina Castillo-Sarmiento to head the Martial Law Victims Claims Board.
Lawmakers and human rights groups expressed dismay over the President’s appointment of Sarmiento and vowed to seek intervention from the Supreme Court to reverse the Palace decision.
Senator Joker Arroyo appealed to Aquino in his open letter to the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer to re-examine the basis for the appointment of Sarmiento.
Arroyo said Sarmiento’s track record on human rights today does not qualify her to the position as she was never involved in human rights advocacy during the Martial Law years.
“The appointment of a general from the uniformed services to preside as chair over the adjudication of the claims for reparation and recognition of the human rights victims is a stinging repudiation of our 15 years of struggle for freedom and democracy, which culminated in the national incandescence at EDSA,” the elder lawmaker stated.
According to Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, the appointment of Sarmiento as claims board chair is a violation of the criteria that a member of the compensation board should have a “clear commitment on human rights protection and promotion.”
Colmenares said that under former President Gloria Arroyo, Sarmiento headed the Philippine National Police-Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO).
“General Sarmiento openly defended former President Gloria Arroyo from charges of human rights violations and extra judicial killings, practically tolerating the human rights record of the Arroyo regime,” he stressed.
Republic Act 10368, also known as the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, requires the members of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board to possess the following qualifications:
- Must be of known probity, competence and integrity;
- Must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos
- Must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court to ask the high court to nullify Sarmiento’s appointment.
According to the petition, “human rights victims are not beggars and are not concerned merely with seeking compensation for themselves for past and continuing atrocities.”
“Compensation is a component of justice. Re-writing the history of human rights violations during the martial law regime is the bigger picture. By appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence, and concealed them with a veneer of impunity,” it added.
Senator Arroyo, Colmenares and Ocampo are among those who experienced torture and detention by the Philippine Army and Philippine Constabulary, where Sarmiento was a member.
“We want to mark it in our history that never again shall we allow perpetrators of human rights violations go unpunished. Letting a Martial Law relic head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board is a betrayal of that purpose,” Ocampo stated.
According to SELDA, there are about 10, 000 victims of human rights violations under the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
RA 10368 was signed into law by President Aquino on February 2013 on the occasion of the anniversary of the historic People Power uprising that ousted the dictator president.
President Benigno Aquino III made an egregious mistake two weeks ago when he appointed a recently retired police general, Lina Castillo Sarmiento, to chair the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board. He has since defended the appointment, offering a cluster of reasons why Sarmiento was right for the job. Sarmiento has also asked her critics to give her a chance at proving them wrong. But the appointment remains a mistake. If the President is loath to change his mind, it is up to Sarmiento to provide the urgent, necessary remedy: She should resign.
The appointment is wrong on several levels.
First, the landmark measure providing for reparation and recognition of the martial law regime’s many human rights victims, Republic Act No. 10368, became law last year; it took Malacañang 12 months to form the claims board. Given the lateness of the hour, the President owed it to the victims and their families to do everything right, not to present them with yet another problem.
Second, placing a career official from the Philippine National Police (formerly the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police) at the head of the claims board sends the wrong signals, to both victim and victimizer. The PC/INP was notorious for human rights abuses. Even if Sarmiento can claim, as she has already claimed, that she has never been accused of any human rights violation throughout her career, the simple fact is she achieved career success in an institution with a record of human rights violations.
Third, and most important: RA 10368 lists four specific qualifications that members of the claims board should possess, and Sarmiento fails the most crucial one. Section 8 reads: “There is hereby created an independent and quasi-judicial body to be known as the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board … It shall be composed of nine (9) members, who shall possess the following qualifications …. (b) Must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”
That second phrase says it all: Sarmiento, who joined the police force in 1980, at the height (or the depths) of military rule, cannot claim “involvement in efforts against human rights violations” committed at that time. She may have risen to the rank of director, the equivalent of major general, and headed the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office late in her career, but there is no showing that, during the Marcos years, when she was still new in the force, she was fighting back against human rights violations.
We wish to be clear: We are not suggesting that Sarmiento was a violator, only that there is no evidence that she was involved in “efforts against” human rights violations then.
If there were evidence, the President would surely have adverted to it. But in defending Sarmiento’s appointment, he offered only a curious cocktail of reasons: she had the “necessary physical ability to be able to complete the job in two years,” the maturity “to fend off those who would want to sabotage what this law intends to do,” the experience of handling human rights issues and the support of officials of the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights. “So, she has the skill, she has the physical energy, she has the drive, she has the right direction to be able to accomplish the job in two years or less,” he said. Maybe, but she still does not meet the requirement clearly spelled out in Section 8 (b).
Other members of the board have a better claim to the chairmanship under the President’s criteria; he could have named former Constitutional Commissioner Jose Luis Martin Gascon, for instance, and there would have been no controversy. This suggests that perhaps the real reason the President named Sarmiento lies in that notion of sabotage: that she could “fend off those who would want to sabotage what this law intends to do.”
But who is the President referring to? There were fears heard during the long struggle to pass the law that victims associated with or sympathetic to the National Democratic Front would use the reparation money to suspicious ends. This seems to us unlikely; it also raises the question of presidential limits: Why does the President have a say in how the money will be used? But all these complications obscure the new fact: The controversy over Sarmiento’s appointment amounts to a kind of sabotage, too.
If Sarmiento has the victims’ interest at heart, she should do the honorable thing and resign.
MANILA, Philippines—As the Aquino administration celebrated the 28th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship, victims of martial law went to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to stop a retired police director from chairing the board that would determine compensation for victims of the Marcos regime.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo was among those who filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction as well as an application for a temporary restraining order against Lina Sarmiento, whom President Aquino named chair of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.
Named respondents in the petition were Aquino, who was accused of committing grave abuse of discretion when he appointed Sarmiento, former chief of the Philippine National Police Community Relations Group under the government’s counterinsurgency program and head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office (HRAO) before her new appointment.
Ocampo and five other petitioners told the high court that they were aghast that Aquino had appointed a police general to head the claims board.
They said Sarmiento’s appointment was “illegal” and should be declared void as she failed to meet the minimum qualifications for a board member set by Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
In their petition, they said Sarmiento did not meet the requirements that she “must be of known probity, competence and integrity (Section 8a); must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Marcos (8b); and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.”
The petitioners said the President “may argue that respondent Sarmiento has a track record as a member and officer of the PNP but it cannot be denied that she lacks the mandated qualifications set forth under the law, and the institution she represents lacks the credibility and integrity to deliver justice to human rights victims.”
The petitioners also said that when Sarmiento was HRAO chief, she “became part of the machinery, which ‘attempted to deodorize the stench of the internationally condemned cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.’”
One case Sarmiento handled was about farmer Renante Romagus who survived abduction and torture. He was stabbed and left for dead in December 2007 in Compostela Valley province, Ocampo et al. said.
They said Sarmiento dismissed calls for investigations of Romagus’ case “as she lamely but callously blamed instead the victims’ inability to identify his perpetrators.”
They also said Sarmiento was a member of Task Force Usig, created by the Arroyo administration which investigated extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances but which they pointed out had failed to do its job.
The petitioners noted that there was nothing on public record to show that Sarmiento was involved in any effort against atrocities during the Marcos dictatorship.
“If at all, she was a silent, passive, if not acquiescent cog in the security apparatus of the repressive dictatorship,” they said.
Ocampo et al. said their petition was not a question of not only whether Sarmiento was qualified under the law to assume such post but also of whether the President’s act of approving her appointment “contravenes the very essence of the law he is supposed to implement.”
And they said the answer to both questions was “in the negative.”
“Therefore, the illegal and unjustifiable appointment by no less than respondent Aquino, the very person who signed the law and a son of supposed icons of Philippine democracy, of a former police general representative of or coming from an institution that has perpetrated gross human rights violations during the Marcos regime—and even up to the present—negates and renders nugatory the very purpose for which the law was enacted,” they said.
The petitioners said the high court should declare Sarmiento’s appointment null and void because the President had committed grave abuse of discretion.
“By appointing a former police general to head the human rights board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence and concealed them with a veneer of impunity,” they said.
Aside from Ocampo, the other petitioners were Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Bayan chair Carolina Araullo, and Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi and Josephine Dongail—members of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto.
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 3:35 p.m.) Victims of human rights abuses committed by the Marcos dictatorship marked the 28th anniversary of the 1986 People Power uprising by asking the Supreme Court to nullify the appointment of retired police general Lina Sarmiento to head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.
Among the petitioners were former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, Neri Colmenares, the incumbent representative of the party-list group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chair Carlo Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi and Josephine Dongail, all of them among the close to 10,000 human rights abuse victims awaiting recognition under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Many quarters have protested the appointment of Sarmiento, calling it a travesty of the law’s intent and an insult to the dictatorship’s victims.
Among those who have voiced their opposition are former Senators Rene Saguisag and Joker Arroyo, both prominent human rights lawyers who defended the victims of the dictatorship.
In a statement, the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto said RA 10368 mandates that members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board possess the following qualifications:
- must be of known probity, competence and integrity
- must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos
- must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy
“We want to mark it in our history that never again shall we allow perpetrators of human rights violations (to) go unpunished. Letting a Martial Law relic head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board is a betrayal of that purpose. We shall exhaust any legal remedy available so that justice may be served,” Ocampo said in the statement.
The petition for certiorari he and the others filed says: “It is more than an issue of trust between the Human Rights Claims Board and the human rights victims. It is greater than ensuring confidence in the system supposedly envisioned to bring about justice. It is beyond the integrity of the process of arriving at the compensation to be awarded and the standards to be used in determining compensability and linking it to the rightful beneficiaries. The sum total of these values, though important, does not adequately address the issue against appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board.”
“The human rights victims are not beggars and are not concerned merely with seeking compensation for themselves for past and continuing atrocities,” it added. “Compensation is a component of justice. Rewriting the history of human rights violations during the martial law regime is the bigger picture.”
“By appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence, and concealed them with a veneer of impunity,” the petition said.
The petitioners are represented by lawyers Edre Olalia, Julian Oliva, Ephraim Cortez and Minerva Lopez of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
Despite the criticism of Sarmiento’s appointment, President Benigno Aquino III defended his choice, citing the retired general’s age and experience.
He also said Sarmiento would be able to “fend off those who want to sabotage” the law.
But Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights organization Karapatan, described Aquino’s defense of Sarmiento as “lame … as lame as his understanding of the very essence of the law that he is supposed to implement.”
“By appointing Sarmiento, Aquino appears as the primary saboteur of the intent of the law to provide justice and reparations to Martial Law victims,” she said.
Victims of martial law are taking up another fight against what they consider a monumental injustice.
This time they are waging a legal battle against retired police general Lina Sarmiento, President Aquino’s choice to head the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.
The nine-member claims board will receive, evaluate, investigate and approve the applications for compensation of martial law victims.
Assisted by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), the victims said they will file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Sarmiento’s qualifications to head the board on the grounds that she used to be with the Philippine National Police, an agency they accused of violating human rights.
In Iloilo City, former political detainees will join protest actions on Tuesday against Sarmiento’s appointment.
The victims said that under Republic Act No. 10368, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, members of the board should have “a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”
They must also be of known probity, competence and integrity, and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
NUPL secretary general Edre Olalia on Monday said the victims were “not questioning the discretion of the President (in choosing the head and members of the claims board). (B)ut we’re questioning (why) the President did not follow the explicit requirements on who should head the board.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the filing of a petition against Sarmiento did not have to delay the process of compensating the martial law victims.
Zarate said the claims board was a collegial body and its other members could continue with the task of processing the applications for compensation and determining their amount should Sarmiento’s leadership be restrained.
Among the petitioners in the Supreme Court case to be filed against Sarmiento are members of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), whose members were jailed and abused during the Marcos dictatorship.
In a statement, Selda said the issue of Sarmiento’s appointment went beyond her qualifications. “It is a travesty of justice… a conscious effort to discredit and dishonor martial law victims,” Selda said.
Olalia, in a separate statement, said Malacañang was being “incorrigible, insensitive and hopelessly stubborn” in insisting on Sarmiento. He said there was no reason the head of the claims board should come from “the most vicious perpetrators of human rights atrocities from the time of the dictatorship…to the present.”
In Iloilo, Selda members criticized Aquino’s choice of Sarmiento, saying that “she belonged to an institution which was among those primarily responsible for human rights violations.”
“Surely there are many others who are qualified and credible,” said Fortunato Pelaez, Selda’s vice president for the Visayas, who was arrested in 1974 as a member of the militant group Kabataang Makabayan. He was detained for 15 months at Camp Crame in Quezon City and at Camp Delgado in Iloilo City, where he suffered torture, including the electrocution of his genitals.
Former political detainee Azucena Porras-Pestaño described Sarmiento’s appointment as an “immoral act” and “insulting” to the human rights victims amid the commemoration of the 1986 Edsa People Power I uprising. Pestaño was a teacher at the then Iloilo City College when she was arrested as a member of the Makabayang Samahan ng mga Propesyonal. She was detained for nine months.
Meanwhile, former senator and human rights lawyer Joker Arroyo who had earlier written an open letter to President Aquino scoring his choice of Sarmiento, on Monday pressed Malacañang to account for the P10-billion in compensation for the martial law victims.
“It would reassure everyone if Malacañang could confirm that the monies allocated to fund the monetary claims of the human rights victims…are still intact,” Arroyo said.—With a report from TJ Burgonio
MANILA, Philippines — A group of human rights victims during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos asked the Supreme Court to stop the appointment of retired General Lina Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Claims Board.
In a petition filed Tuesday, they urged the high court to nullify Sarmiento’s appointment.
Petitioners represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers include former lawmaker Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares, Maria Carolina Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi, and Josephine Dongail. They were all arrested, detained and tortured during the Martial Law years.
They said President Benigno Aquino III gravely abused his discretion when he appointed Sarmiento who is not qualified to head the Human Rights Claims Board.
Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, the head of the board must have a “deep and thorough understanding of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the Marcos time.
Sarmiento was a former member of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police who were among those who allegedly committed human rights violations during Marcos time.
Then, she became chief of the PNP Community Relations Group under the counterinsurgency program of the government, a machinery which petitioners say “attempted to deodorize the stench of the internationally condemned cases of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.”
“The issue of whether respondent Sarmiento meets the exacting qualities [to head the board] is therefore put to serious question. This does not inspire, merit or command trust and confidence in the head of the Board,” petitioners said.
Ernie Reyes | InterAksyon.com
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition to the appointment of a retired police general to chair the body tasked to process claims of victims of human rights abuses by the Marcos dictatorship continued to mount with a women’s group calling it an “affront to Filipinos” and the victims.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Tanggol Bayi said that, “152 women were victims of extrajudicial killing, 31 women were disappeared, while 290 women were illegally arrested and detained” during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, when Lina Sarmiento headed the human rights office of the Philippine National Police.
Under the current administration, it added, the human rights group Karapatan has documented 18 women victims of extrajudicial killing, 3 cases of rape of girls, and 33 women political prisoners who were also victims of illegal arrests and fabricated charges.
Earlier, former Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, who defended human rights abuse victims during the dictatorship, also called Sarmiento’s appointment “illegal.”
Before he became a senator, Saguisag served as spokesman of former President Corazon Aquino, mother of the incumbent, following the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos.
“The appointment of a police general, one from an institution which has systematically spawned rights violations including numerous sexual forms of violence against women since the Martial Law period, is an affront to Filipinos and all victims of human rights abuses,” filmmaker Kiri Dalena, Tanggol Bayi convenor, said in the statement.
Another Tanggol Bayi convenor, Cristina Palabay, accused President Benigno Aquino III of “using a female police official to deodorize stinking institutions with notorious records of human rights abuses.”
“We decry Aquino’s use of the gender card to justify the appointment of a police general to a body that is supposed to deliver justice to women victims of Martial Law,” she said.
Tanggol Bayi also decried what it called Malacanang’s disregard for its women nominees to the claims board, who it said are publicly known for their “deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations” and “clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy,” qualifications spelled out in the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
The group had nominated former Gabriela Representative Liza Maza, one of the law’s main authors, and University of the Philippines Professor Judy Taguiwalo, a victim of the dictatorship and a women’s rights advocate.
It also supported the nomination of Karapatan chair Marie Hilao Enriquez, a veteran human rights activist and daughter of one of the plaintiffs in the class suit against the Marcoses that was the basis of the compensation law.
Former police director Lina Sarmiento, the first woman to hold a two-star rank in the Philippine National Police (PNP), has been appointed head of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.
The board oversees the distribution of P10 billion in compensation to victims of military abuse during President Marcos’ martial law regime.
Sarmiento’s resumé says she was former director of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office.
As someone often approached by people victimized by abusive policemen, I should have been aware of such an office.
I knew Sarmiento headed the Police Security and Protection Group which assigns bodyguards to very important persons or VIPs.
I never heard her defending the human rights of civilians, much more heading an office within the PNP that protects the rights of civilians.
No kidding, is there really such an office?
Nothing personal, but does Lina Castillo Sarmiento “have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations” committed during the Marcos regime? No such evidence on record. And such “deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations” are mandated by law.
Does Sarmiento “have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy?” Open to serious challenge.
And yet she will head the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board? Why put a woman in uniform, who represents an institution that has historically played its indispensable role in violating human rights, at the helm of a body on human rights? What sort of macabre message is this?
As a Philippine National Police “human rights officer,” she played into the part of the apologist mechanism during the Arroyo administration’s killing spree and the nightmare of disappearances that claimed scores of civilians as victims. Does this record inspire trust and confidence?
And President Aquino had to take a year before he could finally decide to openly dishonor, insult and scoff at the memory and sacrifice of those who raged against the dying of the light.
Incredible callousness on top of signature indolence.
Save maybe for some on the board who may be sincere, those that were at the forefront in the battle against the fascist dictatorship and incorrigible kleptocracy were obviously shut out from any representation by this son of perceived icons of democracy.
Where does the heart of this government lie? Or is it April Fools’ Day?—EDRE U. OLALIA, Secretary General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Maaralin corner Matatag Streets Central District, Quezon City
23 July 2013
We at SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) condemn the Philippine National Police for seriously hurting one of
our leaders and other protesters in the rally that coincided with Pres. Aquino’s 4th State of the Nation Address yesterday. It is reprehensible that those fought the Marcos dictatorship and who paved the way to where Aquino is right now, suffer the same police terror not unlike the martial law days.
77-year old Rodolfo “Ka Rody” del Rosario, former political prisoner during martial law and vice-chairperson of the SELDA NCR chapter, suffered from head injuries after police hit him with a nightstick. He was at the frontlines of the People’s SONA ng Bayan that asserted, in a clear exercise of their right to assemble and to protest, to get near Batasang Pambansa where Aquino’s SONA was held.
SELDA members, imprisoned and tortured during Martial Law, attended the SONA rally to emphasize that no justice has been served for the
victims of human rights violations. This is now Aquino’s 4th SONA, and after countless letters, lobbying efforts and rallies, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act signed last February 25 remains ineffective and stagnant. Martial Law victims have yet to be recognized.
We demanded justice not only for us victims of human rights violations. We demanded justice for the greater majority of the Filipino people who continue to struggle for their most basic human rights. Yet, Aquino’s “inclusive growth” only pushed further the rights of the people to food, shelter, healthcare, education, land and livelihood to the sidelines.
The People’s SONA yesterday was a testament of the people’s right to express their discontent because their basic rights are violated.
Only the few rich and powerful , who bleed the people dry, enjoy the so-called growth. These are the same group of elites who are favored by the Aquino government’s policies, at the expense of the people who bear the burden of high prices, privatization of services, meager wages, forced eviction, landlessness and the overall crisis passed on to us by Aquino’s imperialist masters.
We protest the denial of a permit to rally, the use of concertina wires, the blocking of the roads with container vans and fire trucks; the truncheon-bearing police who mercilessly hit the protesters, the illegal and arbitrary arrests and detention and the wounding of rallyists—literally the same scene and horror during the times of the dictatorship.
We demand that the PNP be made accountable for the violence that ensued in yesterday’s rally. We also demand justice and accountability for the illegal arrests and detention made by the police.
We deplore the statements made by the Commission on Human Rights, which instead of ensuring that the police do not use force against the activists, irresponsibly maligned the protesters by saying it is the protesters’ fault that the police used violence against them.
By our collective action, we were able to topple down a dictator. We were able to assert our democratic rights as a people. Amid the dire conditions of the Filipino people, we shall continue to march the streets and tell the real state of the nation and fight for justice for the marginalized and oppressed Filipino people. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 0917-5616800
Kilos protesta kasabay ng SONA 2013, nauwi sa girian
State of the Nation with Jessica Soho | GMA News TV
Saying the victims of martial law abuses have waited long enough, human rights groups are urging Malacañang to form immediately the panel that would process their claims for compensation.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said Sunday there was no reason for the administration to delay the appointments to the nine-member Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.
Colmenares, one of the authors of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act, said the government did not have to wait for any implementing rules or regulations to be formulated before naming the board members.
The board will draft the implementing rules for the compensation process, which is why its completion is crucial for the law to take full effect, Colmenares explained.
President Aquino signed the compensation measure into law on Feb. 25, the 27th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that led to the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The law was intended to recognize the struggles of the people who fought the dictatorship and provide them remunerations for their sufferings. The money would come from a P10-billion fund out of the ill-gotten wealth recovered from Marcos.
“Until the board has been completed, the application period [for the victims’ compensation] could not begin,” Colmenares said in a phone interview.
He noted that every year, many victims of abuses during the Marcos dictatorship had been dying. Further delaying the process would deny them the chance to receive the compensation themselves, although their heirs could apply on their behalf.
Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at sa Aresto (Selda), which earlier lamented the non-implementation of the measure, said that in the two and a half months after the measure was signed, some of the victims had died due to illnesses without seeing the law take effect.
“Martial law victims cannot afford to be disenfranchised, much more neglected again. The law was a victory for the victims. We cannot allow our efforts to go down the drain,” Selda national coordinator Roneo Clamor said in a statement.
Selda earlier also submitted nominees to the board. Its nominees included martial law victims who were involved in the filing of the class suit—around 9,000—gainst the Marcoses and in pursuing the enactment of the law to compensate the victims, as well as members of human rights organizations.
Selda is one of the organizations that may submit nominations to the President.
“I don’t know why after we’ve all fought for it, the appointment of the board has not yet been done. Selda is correct to press that matter,” Colmenares said.
He also conceded that the Aquino administration must name to the board people with sufficient knowledge and background on human rights issues and should not make any appointments for political accommodation.
The law itself states the requirements for the board members: persons of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against abuses during the Marcos regime; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
At least three board members must be lawyers who have been practicing for at least 10 years.
Once all the appointments are complete, the board would have 30 days to organize itself. Within 15 days from the date of its organization, it must promulgate the rules and regulations for the implementation of the law.
The rules would take effect 15 days after its publication in two national newspapers of general circulation. The martial law victims have six months from the effectivity of the rules to file applications for reparation.
The claims board has two years to complete its work of determining the amount of compensation for each victim.
Two months into passage of the Reparation and Recognition Act
SELDA to Aquino govt: Whatever happened to the Board to process claims of martial law victims?
Rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) questioned the Aquino government’s failure to form the Human Rights Victims Claims Board which will process the application for reparation and recognition of martial law victims.
“It has been two months since Pres. Aquino signed the bill into law. What is taking the government so long to take the initial step to implement the law? Are the martial law victims in for a very long wait again?” SELDA national coordinator Roneo Clamor asked.
RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 requires that a Human Rights Victims Claims Board be formed within 30 days so it can proceed to formulate the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) after which it can start with its evaluation and processing of the claims of the martial law victims under the Marcos dictatorship.
According to SELDA, it was bad enough that the guidelines for nominations to the Board was never communicated to them which, per provision of the law, is one of the human rights organizations which “may submit nominations” to the Claims Board.
Nevertheless, SELDA submitted five names on March 12: its national chairperson, a multi-awarded artist who was twice detained, a UP College of Medicine faculty member, a lawyer from Cebu and another from General Santos City. Tanggol Bayi nominated a former congresswoman and a former member of the UP Board of Regents. They are individuals “with integrity, competence and probity and who understand the plight of the martial law victims.”
“It has been more than a month and way past the deadline. The absence of information about the Claims Board raises questions as to Malacanang’s transparency in forming the Board and the possibility that for political reasons not even one of SELDA’s nominees will be appointed. This will deprive the victims of a genuine voice in the Board,” Clamor explained.
“We seriously hope that the Human Rights Victims Claims Board will be composed soonest. Martial Law victims cannot afford to be disenfranchised, much more neglected again. The law was a victory for the victims. We cannot allow our efforts to be put to waste. Without the Claims Board and the IRR, the law is lifeless,” Clamor stressed.
SELDA is the organization that initiated the class action suit against former dictator Marcos. ###
Dennis Carcamo | Philippine Star
Rights group Karapatan on Thursday called on the Aquino administration for transparent and credible process in the selection of the members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.
“The process should be acceptable to the victims,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Palabay said they are apprehensive because as vital information on the nomination process and schedules were not publicized.
“We hope that this is not a foreshadowing of the possible exclusion of the nominees of Selda and Tanggol Bayi from the Human Rights Claims Board,” Palabay added.
The group also echoed the call of the martial law victims that the Claims Board should be composed of people “with integrity, competence and probity and, who understand the plight of the victims.”
Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the Claims board is mandated to formulate the implementing rules and regulations of the measure and to process the claims of victims of human rights violations during martial law.
Dennis Carcamo | Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Rights group Selda on Thursday announced it has submitted a list of nominees to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that will evaluate and process the application for claims of the Martial Law victims.
Selda secretary general Angie Ipong said they sent its list of nominees to the Office of the President last March 12.
Selda came up with the list after President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act.
“We are very honored and proud that our nominees possess the qualifications of the members of the Claims Board spelled out in the law,” Ipong said.
Based on the criteria set by the law, the nominees must be of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
Among the nominees include rights group Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela partylist Rep. Liza Maza, Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina De la Paz, lawyers Romeo Candazo, Kit Enriquez, and Dominador Lagare Sr.
“With such sterling names and achievements of our nominees, we are confident that they possess the qualifications required by law and if appointed, the personalities we are submitting for nomintations will do honor and work for the interests of the victims of martial law and see to it that this law will redound to the vicitms’ benefits,” Ipong added.
Selda is the the organization that initiated the class action suit against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
MANILA, Philippines –President Benigno Aquino III on Monday signed a landmark law, compensating human rights victims of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless “People Power” revolution ended his reign.
“Nilagdaan natin ang Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013 bilang pagkilala sa pagdurusang dinaanan ng napakarami noong Batas Militar.” Aquino said in his speech during the country’s celebration of the 27th People Power Revolution.
”Hindi natatapos sa paggunita ang ating krusada para sa katarungan,” Aquino said.
Aquino thanked Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada and Senator Serge Osmena who authored the bill, as well as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
Ten billion pesos ($244 million) will be distributed to potentially thousands of people who were tortured, raped or detained, as well as relatives of those who were killed, by Marcos’s security forces during his 20-year rule.
Aquino said the law was part of his government’s efforts to “right the wrongs of the past”.
“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” he said.
Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the country’s independent rights commission, said the law would finally allow all his victims to feel a sense of justice.
“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales told AFP.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairwoman of Selda, a group which represents Marcos rights victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.
“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone it will not result to much,” Hilao-Enriquez said.
Hilao-Enriquez’s group represents about 10,000 documented victims but she said there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in the remote south of the country.
Under the law, a “compensation board” will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months, according to Rosales.
The compensation money will come from about $600 million the government has recovered from Swiss bank accounts that Marcos secretly maintained while he was in power.
The government has accused Marcos and his relatives of plundering up to $10 billion and has so far recovered about $4 billion.
Aquino’s mother Corazon led the “People Power” revolution that saw millions of people take to the streets and force US-government backed Marcos from power. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
Sister Cres Lucero, 70, a human rights supporter, hailed the enactment of the bill into law.
“Isang tagumpay ito para sa karapatang pangtao. Kasi dito talagang pinirmahan ng Pangulo natin ang Compensation Act para sa mga biktima ng martial law,” Cres said.
She underscored the role of justice in the pursuit of freedom.
SAYING the quest for justice is not yet over, President Aquino yesterday signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 (Republic Act 10368), which would compensate human rights victims during the martial law era.
The law, which was signed during the 27th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution, sets aside P10 billion from the seized Marcos assets as reparation for victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violation committed from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986.
The law also concluded that members of the class suit that was decided by Hawaii District Court Judge Manuel Real and human rights victims as recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation are also presumed victims during the martial law regime.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Section 20 of the new law provides for a reward or point system ranging from 1 to 10 which would be used to identify the victims and determine how much compensation they would receive.
Those who died or disappeared or are still missing get 10 points; those tortured and/or raped, four to nine points; detained, two to four points; and forced into exile, kidnapped or otherwise exploited, sexually offended but not raped during military and/or police operations, one to four points.
Claims by the human rights victims or their heirs shall be made within six months after the effectivity of the implementing rules . The law provides that no special power of attorney shall be recognized unless the victim is incapacitated.
A nine-member Human Rights Victim’s Claims Board shall be created that would draft the implementing guidelines and process the applications for compensation.
Non-monetary reparation shall be provided by the education and social welfare departments, Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in coordination with the Commission on Human Rights, through the preparation of teaching modules on the abuses committed and heroism shown during the martial law years.
A Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission shall be established in honor of the human rights victims.
Aquino said the People Power revolution does not belong to only one particular group, and called on Filipinos to remember its lessons and put the country’s interests ahead of their own.
He said a united and solid Filipino force is needed to stand against all obstacles in the path towards progress.
The President said the Philippines served as inspiration for other countries after the 1986 bloodless revolution. He said the country is again a new source of inspiration due to its strong fiscal standing amidst the global economic uncertainty and pessimism.
He said Filipinos should be proud of this achievement, and work on ending the economy’s boom and bust cycle.
Aquino led the flag raising ceremony at the People Power Monument that kicked off the day-long activities that marked the Edsa anniversary.
The President was joined by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Cabinet members led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and members of the Senate and House represented by Senator Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
The President also led the awarding of the Spirit of Edsa Foundation Awards, and witnessed the presentation of a Pledge of Commitment by governors, and religious, business and youth representatives and the “Salubungan” rites that recalled the converging of the military and the people in EDSA to stand against the forces of then President Ferdinand Marcos.
President Fidel Ramos, then AFP Vice Chief of Staff, and former Senator Agapito Aquino – Aquino’s uncle – led the Salubungan.
A statue of Our Lady, credited for the peaceful revolution, was carried by Father Arnold Abelardo who was seated on top of a military tank adorned by yellow flowers. The Salubungan was followed by a shower of yellow confetti from a military chopper.
The Madrigal Singers then led the singing of “Magkaisa” and “Bayan Ko,” after which Ramos and the elder Aquino reenacted the “victory jump,” a reminder of the crowd’s celebration when told that Marcos had left the Palace.
In the afternoon in Malacañang, the President met with busloads of children from various orphanages and told them about martial law and People Power.
He said the younger generation should preserve the democracy and freedom that the country enjoys.
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) said the signing of the reparations law was a “small victory” for the martial victims’ continuing search for justice.
“They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights,” said SELDA chair Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
The group said the passage of the law was due mainly to the persistence of the martial law victims who worked with supporters against those who sought to oppose or delay the measure.
SELDA vowed to guard the 9,539 people included in the master list of martial victims against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams that will deprive them of just indemnification.
The human rights group Karapatan said the human rights abuses continue under the present administration.
In a statement, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said yesterday’s commemoration of the EDSA People Power is an “empty exercise meant as a window dressing for the administration’s dismal human rights records.”
The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the political comeback of the Marcoses, 27 years after EDSA 1, points to the failure of all post-EDSA governments to make them truly accountable.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday signed a law compensating human rights victims during the regime of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless People Power revolution ended his reign.
Under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, P10 billion ($244 million) will be distributed to thousands of people whom Marcos’ security forces tortured, raped or detained, as well as relatives of those who were killed, during his rule.
Speaking at a ceremony in Manila to mark the anniversary of the revolution that was led by his mother, President Aquino said that the law was part of his government’s efforts to “right the wrongs of the past.”
“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” the President said.
Under the law, a compensation board will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months. Those victims will be from when Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to the end of his rule in 1986.
“Our crusade for justice does not stop with commemoration. That’s why we signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, as a recognition of the suffering the victims went through during martial law, and to show that generations may pass but our resolve to right the wrongs of the past will not weaken,” he said.
Moreover, the President said that Edsa should remind Filipinos that they should be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
“I sometimes think that it seems we are fond of the cycle of falling down, standing up, as if we cannot accept that we can move forward and advance without again being wounded, without again being persecuted, without again being hurt. It is hard to admit: we are experts in rising up but it seems we lack advancement and progress,” he said.
“Now that we have risen, let us move forward; let us carry one another and focus our sights on the future; let us dust off our worries and move forward to the realization of our dreams,” Aquino added.
The President thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., as well as the bill’s authors—Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada 3rd of Quezon province and Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña 3rd—for their contributions in the enactment of the measure.
The government has accused Marcos and his relatives of plundering up to $10 billion and has so far recovered some $4 billion.
Aquino’s mother Corazon led the People Power revolution that saw millions of people take to the streets and force US-government backed Marcos to step down from power. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
Meanwhile, several human rights victims during the martial law era lauded the signing of the new law.
Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the Commission on Human Rights, said that the law would finally allow all the victims to feel a sense of justice.
“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales said.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairman of Selda, a group that represents Marcos rights victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said that the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.
“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone, it will not result to much,” said Enriquez, whose group represents about 10,000 documented victims.
She said that there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in the remote south of the country.
With a report from AFP
Lawmakers on Monday lauded the signing of a landmark measure providing compensation to victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law era, saying the law serves as a recognition to all those who fought the dictatorship of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, an author of the measure who was himself tortured during the Marcos dictatorship, described the signing of the law as a “victory” for all Martial Law victims.
“At last, the long wait for the Martial Law victims is over. This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the State’s recognition of their suffering under Martial Law,” Colmenares said in a statement.
He added that the Marcos compensation law should also serve as a reminder to the youth to always be “vigilant” against violations of human rights in the country.
Earlier in the day, President Benigno Aquino III signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, in time with the 27th anniversity of the EDSA People Power Revolution, which toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.
Under the new legislation, P10 billion in funds from the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses will be used to pay the victims.
‘Recognition of heroism’
In separate statements, Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Francis Escudero, co-authors of the Marcos compensation law, also lauded the passage of the landmark measure.
“As one of the co-authors of this law, I personally see this law as a recognition of the heroism that was widespread during the Martial Law: a heroism that rang across hills and blazed through the streets of this country,” Guingona said.
“It is only when we remember the atrocities, the injustice, and the abuses that went on in our past that we, as a nation, can continue to fight against attempts to resurrect these evils. Our memory of Martial Law, kept alive and strong, will ensure that we will never have to suffer the same fate ever again,” he added.
Escudero, who sponsored the measure as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, likewise said that the signing of the reparation law gives “true meaning” to the celebration of the EDSA revolution.
“While it took all of 27 years for the state to finally recognize the atrocities it inflicted on Filipinos whose democratic rights were suppressed under Marcos, the compensation law seeks to give justice to victims of the dark days of oppression and hopefully give an assurance that it will not happen again,” he said.
The group Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), for its part, likewise welcomed the signing of the Marcos compensation law, but warned of “attempts to distort, sometimes even completely erase from the memory of our people, the dark days of the dictatorship.”
“There are those among the architects of martial law who remain scot-free and unpunished. The most notorious culprits have been allowed to regain their political power and influence,” the group said in a separate statement.
SELDA, which led the filing of a class suit by Martial Law victims in a Hawaii court, likewise said that it will closely monitor the implementation of the new law.
“We dedicate this small victory to all martial law martyrs and heroes who have gone before us. We will continue to honor them, as we ensure that this law shall be implemented to the best interest of the victims and the Filipino people who survived martial law,” it said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an author of the measure whose brother was a victim of enforced disappearance during the Marcos regime, meanwhile said that the compensation bill “completes the trilogy of legislative human rights measures.”
In 2009, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Anti-Torture Law. Last year, President Aquino enacted the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. —KG, GMA News
MANILA, Philippines – The only son of two of the most prominent victims of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime signed a landmark law yesterday, providing compensation for human rights victims of the dictatorship.
President Aquino, whose father Benigno was assassinated by state forces in 1983, signed Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
The law will award P10 billion, sourced mainly from the Marcoses’ deposits in Swiss banks, to about 10,000 victims.
RA 10368 seeks to “right the wrongs of the past,” President Aquino said.
Compensation will be based on the extent of injuries. A point system of distributing the funds will be spelled out in greater detail in the implementing rules and regulations that will be released soon.
“The law itself provides a point system. There will be of course the board that will be determining the claimants, and based on that point system they will be able to determine how much a person will be entitled to,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
The signing of the law – exactly 27 years after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a bloodless military-backed popular uprising – is also considered an official recognition of the atrocities committed during the regime, largely by security forces.
Marcos and his relatives and cronies are accused of plundering up to $10 billion. So far, the government has recovered about $4 billion.
“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” Aquino said.
Among the factors to be considered in determining individual compensation are period of detention, degree of torture or sexual abuse, among others.
“There is a determination of award. There is a point system and it shall range from one to 10 points,” Lacierda said.
“Victims who died or disappeared or are still missing shall be given 10 points, while those tortured and/or raped or sexually abused shall be entitled to six to nine points; victims who suffered detention shall be given three to five points; victims whose rights were violated shall be given one to two points.
“And there will be an IRR that will be drafted and perhaps put in finer detail how this computation of the point system shall be done,” Lacierda said.
The law also provides for the creation of the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission, whose task is to heighten the youth’s awareness – through education – of the excesses of the Marcos regime as well as the heroism of those who fought it.
Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista said RA 10368 “addresses not only past mistakes but endeavors to ensure that these mistakes never happen again.”
“The P10-billion fund which will be sourced from the Marcos Swiss bank accounts successfully repatriated back to the Philippines by the PCGG in 2003 is definitely being put to good use,” he said.
In a speech delivered at the People Power monument on EDSA in Quezon City, Aquino thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for shepherding the measure. He also lauded House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III – one of the main authors of the law – for patiently working for the approval of the bill.
“Now that the victims are being recognized for their sufferings, it is time to declare ‘never again’ to martial law. If we have tuwid na daan, we should also have tuwid na kasaysayan in order to prevent a wrong presentation of history,” Tañada said.
Tañada’s father and grandfather, Wigberto and Lorenzo Sr., were themselves victims of martial law.
Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the Human Rights Commission, said the law would finally allow all his victims to feel a sense of justice.
“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales said.
Under the law, a compensation board will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months, according to Rosales.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chair of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.
“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone it will not result to much,” Hilao-Enriquez said.
SELDA represents about 10,000 documented victims but she said there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in Mindanao.
“This is another victory of the martial law victims in
their continuing struggle for justice. Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human-rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations,” SELDA said in a statement. “They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.”
For some lawmakers who fought the Marcos dictatorship, the signing of RA 10368 completed the “trilogy” of landmark human rights laws in the country.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, in separate statements, hailed President Aquino’s signing of the law but called on Malacañang to make sure the new law is strictly implemented.
The two other landmark human rights laws are the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 or RA 9745 and the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 or RA 10353, Lagman said.
Lagman’s brother, human rights and labor lawyer Hermon Lagman, disappeared on May 11, 1977. His family never found him despite incessant efforts to locate him in military camps. The Albay lawmaker said they have not decided if they would accept compensation.
Colmenares said he considered the enactment of the compensation law a personal victory, citing his experience of torture at the hands of the military as well as his four-year detention as a 17-year old student leader.
“At last the long wait for the martial law victims is over. This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the state’s recognition of their suffering under martial law,” Colmenares said.
“Many years after the Hawaii court recognized us, our own government recognized us,” he said, referring to the ruling of the US court to grant compensation to nearly 10,000 victims of human rights violations during the regime of the late strongman Marcos.
“The overall message of this recognition is that martial law must never happen again, or is a call for vigilance – the people must not let it happen again,” he added.
Colmenares also said he would have given to his mother whatever compensation he would receive had she lived long enough to see the law passed and implemented.
“She did suffer a lot during my torture and four-year imprisonment, so I would have willingly given it to her, but she died last year. I guess I would have to give my share nalang to the SELDA,” he said.
He said his mother wanted to do repairs on their house in Bacolod City. He added that it might also be ethically questionable for him to accept compensation since lawmakers are not supposed to financially benefit from legislation enacted during their term.
Unlike Colmenares, another human rights victim turned lawmaker said he would be very happy to accept compensation.
“I was a detainee in Bicutan in 1978. Yes, I will accept. It is a moral victory on my part,” Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas told The STAR. Treñas belongs to the ruling Liberal Party. Colmenares said Bayan Muna colleague and The STAR columnist Satur Ocampo had been removed from the compensation list by lawyers of the Marcoses.
“We will insist that he be included in the list of human rights victims in recognition of his sacrifices during martial law,” he said.
By compensating human rights victims, the government is officially recognizing their sacrifices, senators said yesterday.
“While it took all of 27 years for the state to finally recognize the atrocities it inflicted on Filipinos whose democratic rights were suppressed under Marcos, the compensation law seeks to give justice to victims of the dark days of oppression and hopefully give an assurance that it will not happen again,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.
“As one of the co-authors of this law, I personally see this as a recognition of the heroism that was widespread during martial law: a heroism that rang across hills and blazed through the streets of this country,” Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said.
Even the late dictator’s son and namesake described the law as “reasonable” and “imbued with compassion.”
But Sen. Bongbong Marcos said the government should also find ways to compensate other human rights victims after the 1986 revolution.
“It is only when we remember the atrocities, the injustice, and the abuses that went on in our past that we, as a nation, can continue to fight against attempts to resurrect these evils. Our memory of martial law, kept alive and strong, will ensure that we will never have to suffer the same fate ever again,” Guingona added.
Sen. Loren Legarda said the people should continue to fight for human rights without trampling on the rights of others.
“We must support ways by which we can protect and uphold our democracy,” she said.
“We must protect freedom of speech. We should ensure honesty, transparency and accountability of government officials, thus we must have freedom of information,” Legarda stressed.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, for his part, said the government should sustain the “momentum of change” so that every Filipino can realize the full benefits of democracy.
He said the benefits of EDSA would only be fully realized if economic opportunities become acccessible to the majority of Filipinos.
For Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the signing of the landmark compensation law on the anniversary of the People Power Revolution of 1986 “serves as a reminder for us Filipinos to never take for granted the freedom that we now enjoy.”
Pangilinan said Filipinos born after the revolution must be constantly reminded of the excesses of the Marcos regime.
“It is our duty to remind this generation of what transpired. We must never allow this part of our history to be trivialized nor the facts twisted by those who seek to be cleansed of their transgressions against the Filipino people. Never again, indeed,” Pangilinan said. – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Christina Mendez, Rhodina Villanueva, Rainier Allan Ronda
Lira Dalangin-Fernandez | InterAksyon.com
February 25, 2013
MANILA, Philippines — Hailing the signing into law of the compensation act for human rights victims during the Martial Law years, victims and lawmakers on Monday said that people should remain vigilant so it would never happen again.
Simultaneous with the 27th anniversary of EDSA People Power revolution, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act as Republic Act 10368, ending the 40-year wait of the victims for recognition and compensation.
“This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the state’s recognition of their suffering under Martial Law. Many years after the Hawaii court recognized us, now it’s our own government who did the same,” Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said in a statement.
Colmenares, tortured and imprisoned for four years during the Marcos dictatorsip, said “the overall message of this recognition is that Martial Law must never happen.”
In a separate statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the newly-signed law completes the “trilogy of legislative human rights measures” that he principally authored.
Both Lagman and Colmenares are principal authors of the new law.
Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, another principal author of the measure, said not one of the victims thought of being compensated at the time they were fighting dictatorship from 1972 until February 1986, adding that it was “purely an act of patriotism.”
He added: “Now that the victims are being recognized for their sufferings, it is time to declare never again to Martial Law. If we have ‘tuwid na daan’ under PNoy (Aquino), we should also have ‘tuwid na kasaysayan’ in order to prevent a wrong presentation of history,” Tanada said.
Lagman earlier authored the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 or Republic Act 9745 and the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10353.
The first compensation act was filed by Lagman as House Bill 2426 during the first regular session of the 10th Congress in August 1995 or almost 18 years ago.
SELDA: victory for victims
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, said the signing of the law was a victory for the victims.
“Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations. They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights,” the group said in a statement.
The law gives reparation and recognition to countless victims of human rights violations during the martial law regime from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. Violations covered are summary executions, enforced disappearances, deadly torture and other atrocious violations of human rights and civil liberties.
The claimants and direct plaintiffs in the US Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii who secured a decision in their favor against the estate of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, and the martyrs and victims recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation are conclusively presumed as human-rights violations victims.
Other victims who will be filing their claims for the first time are required to submit their claims together with detailed sworn affidavits narrating the circumstances of the violations within six months from the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Act.
A fund of P10 billion, plus accrued interests, is appropriated for the claimants’ reparation which is part of the amount transferred by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to the Philippine Government and which the Philippine Supreme Court forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines as Marcos’s ill-gotten wealth.
Some P500 million, which is part of the accrued interest, will finance the establishment of a museum, library and repository of memorabilia for the victims.
A Human Rights Violations Victims Claims Board (HRVVCB) will be set up to validate the amounts to be granted to the claimants in accordance with the severity of the injuries and damage they have sustained, based on a points system.
The law also mandates the teaching, from the elementary to the tertiary levels, of martial law with its attendant atrocities as well as the life stories and heroism of human rights violation victims.
THE PASSAGE of the landmark Marcos human rights victims compensation bill or the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013” is a most welcome development even if reservations persist about how it will be implemented, once signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III, to the satisfaction of the victims themselves.
Finally, here is official recognition that the Marcos regime was a brutal and repressive regime imposed upon the Filipino people via the declaration of martial law that was nothing less than a craftily disguised Palace coup d’ état.
The principal characters who jointly perpetrated and benefitted from the blood-soaked and kleptocratic regime such as the other half of the Conjugal Dictatorship, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, martial law administrator Juan Ponce-Enrile, and businessman and now presidential uncle, Danding Cojuangco, wish to wash their hands of their complicity or even try to rewrite history.
To a certain extent they have been able to do just that by virtue of their ill-gotten wealth, their undeserved positions in government, as well as their reinstatement in high society circles after being considered, fleetingly, as social pariahs.
But the existence of tens of thousands of victims subjected to gross violations of their human rights such as extrajudicial killing, forced disappearance, torture and prolonged, unjust detention in subhuman conditions belies any attempt to justify or prettify Marcos’ martial rule.
It is to the credit of these victims, their bona fide organization, SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) that filed the original class action suit against the Marcos estate in 1986 in the US Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii and won for its 9,539 members an award of $2 Billion in 1995, and the human rights defenders and political activists who refuse to allow the lessons of martial law to be forgotten, that the Marcos compensation bill has come this far.
It has been 41 years and many of the victims are either dead or old and ill, and their families destitute. They are more than deserving of this token reparation and that their names be inscribed in a “Roll of Victims” to be part of the “Memorial/Museum/Library” that will be set up to honor them.
Unfortunately the bill says very little about what else aside from the martial law atrocities and the victims’ heroism that will be memorialized.
Pres. Aquino is reported to have remarked in connection with the compensation bill that the martial law era was an “aberrant period,” “a nightmare that happened to the Filipino nation” and that it should be written down with formality “so that we can be sure that this would not happen again in the future.”
For their part educators and historians have decried how the martial law era is treated perfunctorily if not sketchily in the textbooks used in our public schools so that its whys and wherefores are lost on the younger generation.
While Marcos’s ambition, cunning, puppetry and greed were among the main ingredients in the setting up of the dictatorship, this did not take place in a vacuum. Rather, Marcos imposed martial rule in the midst of an acute crisis in a chronically crisis-ridden social system weighed down by poverty, maldevelopment, social injustice and neocolonial domination.
It was his scheme to tamp down the crisis by eliminating all opposition and thus monopolize the spoils of elite rule and perpetuate himself in power with the blessings of the US. How many know about the complex reasons behind the political imprimatur and economic backing provided by the United States government to Marcos’s one-man rule, only to drop the favored dictator like a hot potato and embrace his successor, Mrs. Corazon Aquino, some 14 years later.
Marcos was overthrown but the reactionary system still exploits and oppresses the Filipino people. State fascism and concomitant human rights violations are not mere aberrations but are well entrenched in this system so that impunity for human rights violations still reigns.
Glossy, coffee table books on the EDSA “people power” uprising give more than ample coverage of the roles of Senator Ninoy Aquino’s widow “Cory,” Cardinal Sin, General Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce-Enrile and other personalities in toppling the dictatorship but they provide only snapshots, at biased angles, and not a continuing account of the people’s history of resistance as it unfolded from the moment Marcos declared martial law in 1972.
The defiant call “Never again (to martial law)!” can easily be rendered meaningless when the complete context — socioeconomic and political — as well as the specific historical facts and circumstances that gave rise to and propped up Marcos’ authoritarian rule are not rigorously documented and objectively analyzed.
Indeed, the untold stories of how the Filipino people, especially the masses of peasants, workers and other urban poor, struggled against the dictatorship must be collected and retold in such a way that the martial law era will be remembered as one of resistance and not submission or even “victimization.”
There should not be any discrimination against those who took the path of armed revolutionary struggle against the fascist dictatorship since this form of struggle contributed significantly to its weakening and eventual overthrow not to mention that most of these revolutionaries paid the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the process.
In the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) inked between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines), Articles 4 and 5 provide for indemnification to victims of human rights violations, citing in particular the need to compensate victims under the Marcos regime. In the many sessions of the GRP-NDFP peace talks (both formal and informal) the NDFP peace panel had consistently and persistently raised the issue with their GRP counterpart.
The GRP appeared to have acknowledged the justness of this demand by eventually signing CARHRIHL that provides for it. But the actual indemnification did not materialize evidently due to the Arroyo regime’s machinations. Now it remains to be seen, assuming Pres. Aquino will sign the bill into law, whether the martial law human rights victims will finally get what is due them.
David Dizon | ABS-CBNnews.com
Coming soon: Martial Law Memorial a la Holocaust
MANILA – Victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos will get an estimated P500,000 each with the passage of the Marcos Compensation Bill.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a member of the bicameral conference committee, said the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2012 is the result of years of work to properly indemnify victims of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.
“It is beyond compensation but reparation and recognition for the human rights victims during martial law. It is not a big sum of money now pero malaking tulong pa rin sa mga matatanda nang victims,” he told radio dzMM.
Under the law, those qualified to receive compensation are victims of human rights violations committed from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. Compensation will come from funds amounting to P10 billion transferred to the Bureau of Treasury through the order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997.
The new law states a Human Rights Claims Board will be created to determine people qualified to get compensation.
Colmenares said the board will create the internal rules and regulations that will detail the process of recognition, compensation and reparation.
He said groups such as SELDA and Task Force Detainees can nominate human rights advocates “with deep understanding of the human rights situation during martial law” to join the board.
Representatives from the National Historical Institute, the Commission on Human Rights, and the University of the Philippines Main Library could also join the board, he said.
“It is a combination of agencies with historical and human rights mandates,” he said.
2 years to distribute compensation
Colmenares said there will be 2 groups of claimants for compensation. The first group is composed of 9,539 victims in the Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses.
The new law states that the Hawaii complainants are presumed victims of martial law abuses and would no longer have to prove their claims for compensation.
The second group, Colmenares said, will include individuals not included in the Hawaii class action suit.
He said that once the board is set up, there will be an information campaign to allow possible claimants to apply within the 6-month period.
Claimants will also be screened by the board. A point system will be followed in determining the amount that each victim or their kin will receive, with those tortured or killed getting a higher compensation than those harassed or economically disadvantaged during martial law.
Colmenares said the board will then have 2 years to finish the process of compensation.
“Tinaningan na. Dapat in 2 years, they must get it in 2 years. We can actually give compensation to the Hawaii claimants in the first year. It is a maximum of 2 years,” he said.
Martial Law Memorial
The lawmaker said the law also establishes a Martial Law Memorial where the names of all victims of human rights violations will be enshrined.
“It was in the Senate version. In fact, ang narinig ko it will be equal to the Holocaust Musem. It will contain memorabilia, stories at kung ano pa mang bagay that will give us an idea on what happened during Martial Law. And, of course, the role of the victims, yung mga pangalan nila ilalagay duon sa memorial na yan,” he said.
Colmenares said he has already asked Education Secretary Armin Luistro about including the teaching of martial law in the school curriculum. He noted that in some textbooks, discussion about martial law is reduced to a single page and equates the period to land reform.
The lawmaker said the memorial and proper education will help the next generation understand the lessons of martial law.
“It brings back the experience of martial law and hopefully, the lessons will be inculcated
They need the real picture of what happened during martial law,” he said.
He also said he is disappointed that not one member of the Marcos family went to jail despite the crimes committed during martial law.
“Nagiging hungkag ang call na ‘Never again to martial law’ kasi parang walang lesson learned, walang accountability,” he said.
He noted that one good thing that came out after the 1986 EDSA Revolution is that the entire world recognizes Ferdinand Marcos as a dictator.
“Kami naman sa Bayan Muna, we will really work hard na hindi maulit ang apelyidong yan (Marcos) sa panguluhan,” he said.
Bongbong hands off
Meantime, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said his family already has nothing to do with granting reparations for victims of human rights human rights violations during the regime of his father.
A day after the Senate ratified a measure giving compensation to martial law victims, Marcos said the issue is only between human rights claimants and the government, which now possesses the money confiscated from his family.
“The judgments have been made against us and our position has been very clear. The government has confiscated the assets, so it’s up to the government to now dispose of them as they see fit,” he said.
Marcos added that from the very start, he was never involved in discussions on the bill.
“I just recused myself from the discussions because I cannot be seen ever to be objective about the subject,” he said.
Almost four decades after he was arrested and tortured and his sister disappeared into a maze of Philippine police cells and military houses, playwright Bonifacio Ilagan is finally seeing his suffering officially recognized.
A writer for an underground communist newspaper, Ilagan and thousands like him were rounded up by security forces of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos after he placed the Philippines under martial law in 1972. Detentions, beatings, harassment and killings of the regime’s opponents continued until Marcos was toppled in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Even though democracy was restored, it would take another 27 years for Congress to vote on a bill awarding compensation and recognition to martial law victims.
On Monday, the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the bill after the bicameral committee earlier in the day signed the final version of the bill following some last-minute polishing.
President Aquino is expected to sign the bill into law shortly, possibly before the anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos.
“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,” said a statement from Selda, an organization of former political prisoners.
Ilagan’s story is more of a rule than exception among leftist activists of his generation.
“The torture started in the house. We were beaten up, punched and kicked,” he said, recalling a police raid on his residence in April 1974 and the beginning of his two-year detention ordeal.
He said he vomited blood after being kicked in the thighs. The soles of his foot had been burned by an iron, he added.
“The one episode in my torture that I cannot forget was when they ordered me to remove my pants and underwear and they inserted a piece of stick into my penis. ‘Oh my God,’ I said, this is one torture I could not bear,”’ the 61-year-old said in an interview.
He said that interrogators wanted him to decode documents and identify people in pictures that were seized from suspected communists.
“Compared to others, mine was not the worst torture,” he said. “The others were electrocuted and injected with truth serum. … But the threats continued.”
Ilagan’s sister, Rizalina, disappeared in 1976 along with nine other activists, many of them students involved in anti-Marcos publications, he said.
One of the women arrested by the same government unit that he suspected was involved in his sister’s abduction had escaped to recount her rape and torture. Ilagan said he has no doubt that his sister went through the same abuses.
His parents died still hoping his sister would turn up alive, but the family has found no closure, Ilagan said.
Despite cases filed by former political prisoners, “there have been no convictions of perpetrators,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda, said Monday.
“Governments after Marcos did not move or did not do anything to go after Marcos seriously, so we filed a case in Hawaii,” Enriquez said.
In 1992, the victims won a class action suit against the Marcos estate in Hawaii.
Under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the 9,539 victims in the Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses will be awarded compensation using $246 million, roughly P10 billion, that the government recovered from Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth deposited in Swiss bank accounts.
The bill states that these plaintiffs would be presumed victims of martial law abuses, which means they would no longer have to prove their claims for compensation.
Also to be conclusively recognized as Marcos victims are those in the list of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani foundation.
The amount each will receive will depend on the abuse suffered.
Loretta Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said her agency was looking at around 6,000 cases of abuses during the Marcos years. If there are two victims for each case, there could be 12,000 more claimants eligible for compensation, she said.
“Finally, over two decades after the fall of the dictatorship, we will have a law that puts the responsibility of human rights abuses square on the shoulder of Marcos and provides justice for all those who suffered under his reign,” said Rep. Walden Bello, a member of a congressional committee that drafted and approved the bill.
“This bill should make us realize that never again should we allow (the atrocities) of the Marcos regime to happen in this country,” Sen. Francis Escudero said after the Senate ratified the 16-page bicameral report.
“After 25 years, I really hope that the Marcos compensation bill would be signed in time for the Edsa One celebration,” the senator said.
Escudero noted that many of the victims of martial rule were more interested in being recognized and listed in the Roll of Victims than in receiving reparation, citing Sen. Joker Arroyo.
There would be cases when the Human Rights Claim Board itself would recognize unilaterally a martial law victim and put his name in the roll even if he does not apply for recognition, he added. With reports from Associated Press, Leila B. Salaverria and Cathy C. Yamsuan