In the Press

‘Body tasked to recover Marcos assets should finish job first before govt eyes abolition’

Dexter San Pedro | InterAksyon.com

The Philippine agency tasked to recover the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth should focus on and finish its job first before the government considers its abolition.

President Benigno Aquino III made these remarks on Tuesday in an interview in Cebu City aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

“Instead of us hastily discussing whether to retain or abolish, I want to make sure that we finish the work mandated to the PCGG,” Aquino said.

He was referring to the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the first agency created by his late mother, President Corazon Aquino after she assumed power from the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino said he wants to see the details of the proposal of PCGG chairman Andres Bautista to close shop sooner than later.

“I want to see the details why he made such an opinion,” he said. “I want to review the process and premises—if indeed the PCGG has already completed its mandate and if we can transfer its tasks to our prosecutors, the Ombudsman, and other entities in the legal or judicial branch of our system. I believe we are still trying to recover a substantial volume of ill-gotten wealth.”

A bill has already been filed in Congress seeking the abolition of the PCGG.

Under House Bill No. 4049, “the powers and functions of investigations and prosecution of criminal (cases) exercised by the PCGG shall be transferred to the Department of Justice.”

Civil cases would then be handled by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.

These include the “management, administration and the disposition of the assets, as well as the sequestration of the properties considered to be ill-gotten.”

“More than 20 years and four administrations have passed, PCGG has not produced significant accomplishments that would justify its continued existence,” according to the explanatory note of the bill, which was jointly introduced by Representatives Sergio Apostol and Pedro Romualdo.


Compensation for rights victims close to becoming a law

Leila B. Salaverria | Inquirer.net

The bicameral conference committee is close to coming up with a final version of the compensation bill for martial law abuse victims. The remaining issue to be resolved is whether or not to conclusively recognize claimants in a Hawaii class-action suit as human rights violation victims.

Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III. PHOTO BY RYAN LEAGOGO

The bicameral panel is trying to forge a compromise on the issue, and had already ironed the other conflicting provisions in the bill, according to Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III.

Among the issues resolved Wednesday was the composition of the nominations committee for the members of the compensation board, and the members of the board’s consultative body, Tañada said.

The panel decided to follow the provision in the House bill, with some modifications to include groups identified by the Senate.

The groups that would comprise these bodies include the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, and Samahan ng Mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, Claimants 1081, Karapatan, the Free Legal Assistance Group, and the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism.

As to how to consider the victims, Tañada said House contingent proposed yesterday that the Hawaii claimants would be conclusively presumed as human rights violations victims, but the amount they would receive would be subject to validation.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said this means the amount to be awarded to them would have to be determined by the board depending on the kind of abuse they suffered. A point system would be followed.

Under this system, the Hawaii claimants would have to wait for some time before getting the compensation, he said.

The House version of the bill states that there would be a conclusive presumption that claimants in the Hawaii suit were victims of human rights violations, while the Senate version provides for a disputable presumption, meaning their claims would be subject to validation if challenged.

The conflict among the two provisions is expected to be resolved in the third bicameral conference committee meeting next week.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that for him, the claimants’ ordeal did not come out of thin air and had been validated by human rights organizations in the Philippines. They had also filed affidavits in the Hawaii court and presented testimonial evidence, Lagman said.


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

Karen Boncocan | Inquirer.net

Former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. AFP FILE PHOTO

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

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

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

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

Bayan Muna vs Akbayan

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bicam on human rights compensation bill OKs panel to evaluate claims

Karen Boncocan | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — The bicameral conference committee on human rights compensation bill for victims during the Marcos regime has approved the creation of a compensation board which will evaluate claims.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares on Wednesday said that the members of the panel were now discussing the qualifications of the members of the board.

Senate Bill 3334 proposed that the compensation board scrutinized claims for compensation by martial law victims.

The panel is presently in talks to resolve contentious issues on SB 3334 and House Bill 5990, which seeks to include 9,539 human rights victims who were part of a prior complaint adjudged by the US Federal Court System in Hawaii.

The Senate version also requires evidence of human rights violations against the martial law victims.

This goes against the House position, led by the principal author of its version Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, which seeks to acknowledge the Hawaii plaintiffs as victims during the Marcos regime without requiring evidence.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO


Martial law victims demand for ‘acceptable’ version of compensation bill

Selda, a group of martial law victims, holds a rally outside the House of Representatives on Wednesday as the bicameral conference committee on the Marcos victims compensation bill meets anew. KAREN BONCOCAN/INQUIRER.net

Karen Boncocan | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — A group of martial law victims went to the House of Representatives Wednesday to demand that the bicameral conference committee on the human rights compensation bill ensure that the reconciled version would be acceptable to them.

Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) urged the panel to craft a reconciled version of House Bill 5990 and Senate Bill 3334 that would “reflect the interests of majority of the victims of martial law.”

The group called on lawmakers to ensure that the government recognizes “victims who filed a class action suit against Marcos in Hawaii… as legitimate human rights violation victims.”

HB 5990, being pushed by its principal author Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, urges the government to recognize and compensate 9,539 rights victims under the Marcos regime in a prior complaint adjudged by the US Federal Court System in Hawaii.

The Senate version requires evidence that the rights of the victims were violated.

The bicameral panel is set to discuss in a meeting this Wednesday whether the Hawaii plaintiffs ought to be recognized as actual victims of human rights violation during the Marcos regime.

Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares slammed Akbayan Representative Walden Bello for opposing the House version of the bill, saying that the partylist lawmaker undermined the position of the lower chamber in resolving the conflicting provisions of the House and Senate measures.

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

“This is not about Bayan Muna and Akbayan disagreeing with each other.  This is about siding with human rights victims against the Marcoses,” added Colmenares.

The two partylist groups have been known to be political rivals.

Bello was opposed to the 80-20 percent distribution of compensation between the human rights victims in Hawaii and the other complainants.

Colmenares defended the House’s position, saying that the 80-20 percent classification was “fair and reasonable because it recognizes the long suffering of the Hawaii claimants.”


Marcos victims ask Congress to use Hawaii class suit list

Leila B. Salaverria | 

A group of martial law detainees on Monday appealed to Congress to automatically consider some 9,000 individuals who won a class suit against the Marcoses in Hawaii victims of human rights violations entitled to government compensation.

Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) directed its plea to the bicameral conference committee, which is hammering out the final version of a bill that seeks to indemnify victims of abuses during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

The remuneration would come from the P10 billion in Marcos ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities had returned to the Philippine government after the dictator’s  ouster in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Selda, which led the filing of the Hawaii case, said claimants must be conclusively presumed as human rights violations victims, as stated in the House of Representatives version of the bill.

The bicameral conference committee is debating on whether to follow the House version or the Senate version, which states that there is a “disputable presumption” that the claimants are victims, meaning they are subject to validation. The panel is to meet on Wednesday following a first meeting last week.

In a statement, Selda chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said that to make the claimants in the Hawaii case undergo a rigorous validation process again would undermine their efforts to seek justice.

“Such a provision is dangerous, for if this is included and passed into law, the victims who filed and won the Hawaii case will once again undergo and endure the painful and rigorous process to prove that they were indeed violated during martial law,” Enriquez said.

“We are adamant that conclusive presumption should be the principle adopted to automatically consider the 9,539 victims who pursued and won the Hawaii case under the proposed Philippine law,” she added.

Enriquez also said the group was pushing the compensation bill  to enforce the 1992 judgment in the Hawaii case, which was to indemnify the martial law victims.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, one of the Hawaii claimants and a coauthor of the bill, also said that it would be dangerous to do away with the conclusive presumption clause.

He said some of the victims may be unable to present evidence to defend themselves if their application for compensation was contested, considering the many years that had passed.

Colmenares would not be filing any application for compensation since he was the author of the bill, but he added that he himself would be hard put to find the evidence to show he was tortured and imprisoned for four years.

Outrageous

And if a Hawaii claimant was denied by the compensation board, it would just lend credence to the Marcoses’ claim that many of those who filed the court case were fake martial law victims, according to Colmenares.

“It is surely unkind to make the Hawaii victims, the majority of whom are very old now, to again relive before the compensation board their rape, torture and sufferings. This is outrageous,” he said.

He also defended the House provision that states that 80 percent of the compensation fund would go to the Hawaii claimants, and the remaining 20 percent to other claimants.

About 10,000 purported victims have filed cases against the Marcoses following the long and tedious court processes in Hawaii. But Congress is not sure how many of those who did not file cases will apply for compensation, especially since 40 years have passed since martial law was declared in 1972.

Selda also said the compensation bill must recognize all human rights violations victims during the martial law regime, and not just those who were exercising their rights “peacefully” as stated in the Senate version.

“It will be the height of historical amnesia and ignorance to only recognize the rights violations against those who ‘peacefully exercised their rights,’ as if the situation during the martial law years would permit such an exercise,” Enriquez said.

She said those who marched and defended themselves against the Philippine Constabulary and those who joined the communist New People’s Army also had rights.

Joker Arroyo slammed

Enriquez criticized Sen. Joker Arroyo for reportedly derailing the panel’s initial meeting last week by insisting, as embodied in the Senate version of the bill, on limiting reparation to those who fought the dictatorship through peaceful means.

“Arroyo wants to exclude those who resorted to armed resistance during martial law, implying that in doing so, they had given up their rights,” Enriquez told the Inquirer after a meeting in the office of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace and unification.

Asked for a reaction, Arroyo’s staff released to the Inquirer without comment a letter from Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, pointing out that the 80-20 ratio provision in the proposed package would nullify the intention of the measure—to give reparation to all victims of human rights abuses.

Arroyo was one of the few prominent lawyers, including the late Jose W. Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada, who defended human rights victims during the martial law years. With a report from Cathy Yamsuan


Marcos victims bill mired in debate

Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer

Lawmakers crafting the final bicameral version of a bill granting compensation to victims of human rights violations during martial law are debating whether or not to automatically recognize a certain group of claimants for indemnification or to open the fund to all claimants.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

Despite this snag, however, they remained optimistic a final version of the measure would be ready for ratification by the Senate and House of Representatives when both houses resume sessions on Jan. 21.

The first bicameral conference committee meeting was held last week and another is scheduled for Wednesday.

The compensation bill seeks to provide tax-free remuneration to victims of human rights violations or their relatives during the dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The funds would be taken from the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities have returned to the Philippines and which stands at about P10 billion.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the bicameral conference committee debated during its meeting last week on whether or not it would be fair to automatically recognize the claimants in the Hawaii class suit against the Marcoses as human rights victims entitled to compensation.

The House version of the bill states that there would be a conclusive presumption that claimants in the Hawaii suit were victims of human rights violations, while the Senate version provides for a disputable presumption, meaning their claims would be subject to validation.

Bello believes the panel is moving toward adopting the position of  disputable presumption, which would allow those who have doubts about the validity of the Hawaii claimants to contest their status and present proof against them.

 

Discussions on sharing 

Another point that was the subject of much discussion was the proposed 80-20 sharing of the compensation fund in the House bill, where the bigger chunk would go to the martial law victims recognized by the Hawaii court, and 20 percent to all other claimants.

Bello said several lawmakers raised questions about this provision’s constitutionality and fairness, and the matter had yet to be resolved.


Plan to end Marcos wealth hunt angers rights victims

BY AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE | Rappler.com

MANILA, Philippines – Torture victims under the 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos vented their anger Wednesday, January 2, at a government plan to wind down its hunt for the late dictator’s embezzled billions.

‘SIGN OF IMPUNITY.’ Human rights group Selda said the plan to abolish the PCGG will send the signal that powerful people can commit crimes with immunity. File photo

The proposal would give the signal that people in power can commit crimes with impunity, said the human rights organization Selda.

“We cannot just forgive and forget what the Marcoses did to us, nor must the Aquino government stop pursuing justice for martial law victims and the rest of the Filipinos,” the group said in a statement.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering the Marcos wealth, said last month that it would soon wind down its operations after almost 30 years.

Its head Andres Bautista told AFP he had recommended to Aquino that the agency’s work be transferred to the justice department.

He said pursuing all of the Marcos wealth on a limited budget had become difficult with Marcos’s widow, Imelda, and her 3 children back in positions of power.

Both Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda as well as the justice department confirmed Wednesday that the proposal had been sent to President Benigno Aquino III, and that it was under study.

Marcos was toppled by a popular revolt in 1986 and replaced by Corazon Aquino, the incumbent’s late mother. Her first act was to create the commission to try to recover the plundered assets.

Bautista said the commission has recovered P164 billion ($4 billion at the prevailing exchange rate), or less than half of the estimated 10 billion dollars in wealth believed plundered by the Marcos family.

Selda groups anti-Marcos activists who were jailed and abused during martial law.

A US court in 2011 awarded some 7,500 rights victims 7.5 million dollars in compensation for their suffering, in what was seen largely as a token victory.

The funds came from assets held in the US by a crony of Marcos that were seized. – Rappler.com


Marcoses lose US appeal

Contempt case involves $354-M award to human rights victims

October 29, 2012 | 

Victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship have scored a victory in their long quest to get compensation from the Marcos estate.

A US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld on Oct. 24 a contempt judgment against Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., his mother Imelda and the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos for violating an injunction that barred them from dissipating assets of the estate.

The judgment amounting to $353.6 million is believed to be the largest contempt award ever affirmed by an appellate court.

The judgment may be implemented against any US property owned by Imelda and Bongbong. However, the human rights victims need to ask the Philippine government for implementation of the judgment against the Marcoses’ personal property in the Philippines.

A Philippine law requires that all ill-gotten wealth recovered from the Marcoses should be spent on the government’s land reform program.

Robert Swift, lead counsel for the 10,000 Filipino human rights victims who obtained a judgment against the late dictator and his estate in 1995, said he was satisfied with the new judgment.

“The Marcoses have thumbed their noses at the United States court and Filipino human rights victims ever since the $2-billion judgment was entered in 1995,” Swift said in a statement.

Dynasty

The American lawyer said the Marcoses were caught trying to dissipate the estate’s assets to recapitalize the family’s political dynasty in the Philippines.

Bongbong began serving his six-year term as senator in 2010. Imelda is a representative of Ilocos Norte in Congress, while daughter Imee is the governor of the province. Both mother and daughter are running for reelection in midterm elections in May 2013.

Swift said the new judgment was against Imelda and her son personally for their misconduct.

“It broadens the possibilities for collection of money to the human rights victims. The victims can be assured they we will vigorously and aggressively seek to collect this sum,” the lawyer said.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales said Sunday night that the US court victory against the Marcoses was “payback” for the “shameless arrogance” of Bongbong and his mother, who have not apologized for the looting and the killings during the Marcos regime.

“If we can’t get their apology, at least we will force them to pay more and refresh the minds of a new generation of Filipinos on the atrocities committed by the family for close to two decades,” Rosales said in a phone interview.

“They (Bongbong and Imelda) are the face of their families and the Filipinos should continue to demand payment for the sins of their family.”

She said the $353.6 million awarded by the US court would be on top of the close to $2 billion awarded to martial law victims in 1995.

Barred in US

Rosales said she was told by lawyers that the contempt award meant that the Marcoses would not be allowed to set foot on any US territory.

“The contempt ruling means that the US courts are taking seriously the disrespect shown by the Marcoses. More than the heavy fines, this is a big embarrassment to the family who has shown no remorse for the deeds they made,” the CHR said.

Rosales said that the contempt charge was a “long shot” and that the US courts sided with the victims was a “pleasant surprise.”

“The senator’s refusal to apologize and own up to the sins of his father only shows the continuing arrogance of his family,” said Rosales, herself a victim of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.

The litigation against Marcos began in 1986 shortly after the dictator and his family fled to Hawaii following the people power revolution.

After Marcos died, Imelda fought the litigation. Following a historic trial, a Hawaiian jury awarded 9,539 Filipino human rights victims almost $2 billion.

The judgment was affirmed on appeal. While the jury was deliberating, the Marcoses entered into a secret deal with the Philippine government to make the Marcos estate judgment-proof.

When Swift learned of this, the human rights victims sought a contempt award against Imelda and her son, and the Marcos estate’s legal representatives, for violating the injunction that barred them from dissipating the estate’s assets.

Imelda and Bongbong were found to have agreed to the transfer from the United States to the Philippines artworks considered part of the estate, and to split the estate with the Philippine government, retaining 25 percent tax-free as their share.

After five hearings during which documents showing the Marcoses’ efforts to dissipate the assets were introduced, the court found the Marcoses in contempt and ordered them to pay the victims until they purged their contempt.

The Hawaii Court of First Instance imposed a daily fine of $100,000 from Feb. 3, 1995, to Feb. 3, 2005, when the contempt order expired, leaving a total fine of $353,600,000.

The appellate court last week wrote that the “$100,000 per day amount was necessary and appropriate because the Marcoses’ contumacious conduct” caused direct harm to the victims, by preventing them from collecting on their $2-billion judgment. With a report from Gil Cabacungan


Martial law victims seek compensation

MANILA, Philippines – Martial law victims led by the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) challenged Malacañang to enact the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill into law in commemoration of the 40th year of the imposition of Martial Law.

Martial law victim Rody del Rosario said he was a victim of warrantless arrest during the Marcos regime and stayed in jail for 2 years.

He said that after 40 years, it is high time that the government recognizes the hardships suffered by victims of martial law.

ABS-CBN Umagang Kay Ganda, Sept. 21, 2012


Indemnify martial law victims now – group

Remate Online

FORMER martial law activists launched a protest actions at the Mendiola Bridge today to demand for justice and indemnification as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial law this month.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) lambasted the Aquino government’s negligence that resulted to unmonitored withdrawals from Imelda Marcos’ account at the Philippine Veterans Bank.

The P36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten money under Imelda Marcos’ name is now only a little over P1M despite the garnishment order by the Sandiganbayan. Earlier in August, the ML victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court ruled to award the $23Million Marcos ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank. Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino hear and know that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice, “ Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson said.

According to the group, impunity still reigns after decades of struggling for justice. “After overthrowing Marcos, we filed and won the now historic Hawaii class suit for victims of martial law” Enriquez said, “But even under the present “matuwid na daan” of Noynoy Aquino, we continue to suffer from injustice.”

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure,” Enriquez stated, “When are we going see this administration seriously work for the justice that we, survivors of that dark regime, truly deserve?”

Furthermore, the human rights group deplored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate .

“Inaamag na ata ito sa Senado,” (It probably has grown mold at the Senate) said Trinidad Herrera, SELDA board member and also a survivor of the dictatorship.

The group will proceed to the Senate from Mendiola for a noise barrage. “Our senators should remember that they owe us a law that should have been implemented by now. What are they waiting for, another 40 years?”

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that they are still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary. The bill was first filed in 1997 and has never been signed into law up to the present even as Noynoy Aquino rants about being a victim of martial law.

“We are not pawns that the government can use for their electoral campaign,” Trinidad continued, “The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election.”

The group also stated that while September marks the 40 years of the imposition of martial law, they have nothing to celebrate.  “We are not here to commemorate the imposition of martial law, we are still here because the governments that succeeded the dictatorship failed to bring justice, end human rights violations and impunity. We continue to fight until we achieve justice. From martial law to Noynoy Aquino, our brand of activism lives on,” Enriquez said.


Martial law victims

Lino Santos | Manila Standard Today

Martial law victims and kin demand justice and indemnification during a rally at the Chino Roces (formery Mendiola) Bridge as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial rule this month.


Martial Law remembered

PHOTO BY JUNNY ROY FOR ABS-CBNNEWS.COM

Photo by Junny Roy | ABS-CBN.com

Former martial law activists rally in front of the Senate on Monday to demand justice and indemnification as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial law this month. The group lambasted the government for its failure to successfully prosecute the Marcoses for alleged atrocities under martial law.


Families of Martial Law victims urge Senate to pass bill compensating them for atrocities

Karl John Reyes | InterAksyon.com

Families of victims of Martial Law atrocities led by a human rights group urged the Senate on Monday to pass a compensation bill now pending in one of its committees.

“We have lobbied to our legislators even protested at the steps of the House of Representatives and the Senate demanding that the bill to indemnify victims of Martial Law be finally enacted into law. The Lower House passed its version of the indemnification bill, House Bill 5990, on March 21. Unfortunately, the Senate’s version, Senate Bill 2615, is still at the committee…level,” Roneo Clamor, national coordinator of Samahan ng ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya.

Families of victims of martial law hold a rally in front of the Senate, asking the chamber to approve a bill that will compensate them for atrocities of the Marcos regime. (Jamin Verde/InterAksyon.com)

However, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero debunked Clavor’s claim that Senate Bill 2615 is still pending at the committee. He said that the committee report is scheduled for plenary debate. The committee is still waiting for inputs about the report from Senator Joker Arroyo.

“Senator Arroyo wanted to make revision and reviews on the report before sending the bill for plenary debates,” said Escudero, whose late father Salvador, served as Agriculture Minister of President Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos placed the entire country under Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Among those who implemented military rule was Marcos’ defense minister and now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“We are finished in the Committee but still waiting for the inputs of Senator Joker Arroyo. Ipinasa ko iyon sa last congress, we approved in on third reading but the House did not,” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights said.

 

Appeal from a victim’s son

Meanwhile, Ronnie Manalo, 49, of Capas, Tarlac appealed to the Senate to immediately pass the bill to indemnify his family, including other families and survivors of the human right violations during the Marcos dictatorship.

“Walo po kaming kaanak ng biktima ng Martial law na nandito. Ngayon, 49 years old na ako, wala pang katarungan hanggang ngayon, wala pa simula nang mapatay ang aking ama noong June 24, 1970 sa San Rafael, Tarlac,” Manalo said.

When he was six years old, his father, Romulo was allegedly killed by armed men after attending a farmer’s meeting in a sitio in San Rafael, Tarlac on June 24,1970.

“Napatay po ang aking ama na si Romulo Manalo sa isang masaker sa San Rafael, Tarlac noong June 24, 1970. Sabi nila papunta sila sa meeting, noong pag-uwi, hinarang sila ng mga may baril na military,” Manalo said. (My father, Romulo Manalo, was killed in a massacre in San Rafael, Tarlac on June 24, 1970. He left to attend a meeting but on the way home, he was blocked by armed military men.)

“Humihingi po kami ng hustiya at katarungan sa panukalang batas na ito. Pinatay po ang aking ama noong anim na taong gulang pa lamang ako, kaya ngayon nandito ako upang humingi ng hustisya at katarungan,” Manalo concluded. (My father was killed when I was just six years old which is why I’m here seeking justice.)

Legislation is needed to allot part of sequestered funds from the Marcoses’ wealth for the victims of Martial Law because the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law provides that all sequestered assets from the Marcos family should be spent for land reform.

In 1995, the Federal Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of grave human-rights violations in a class suit filed by Selda and awarded $2 billion in compensatory damages to the victims.

There were 9,539 complainants in the class suit against the Marcoses.

Three years later, the Swiss government transferred $640 million to the Philippine government. The Philippine Supreme Court ordered its transfer to the national treasury in 2003.

 

Marcos hands-off on the bill

For his part, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., said he will not either participate nor vote on the Compensation Bill since it involves his family in the suit.

“Again, lahat ng compensation on human rights and their legal action for the compensation is now on the hands of the national government. As I said before, all cases on human rights victims including compensation, we don’t appear in court. We are not the party anymore, binitiwan na namin. Whatever the court’s decision, it is now with the human rights victims and the national government,” Marcos explained.

“I have to refuse to participate in the deliberation of the bill because it involves my family. So hindi naman tama na boboto ako, one way of another,” he said.


Martial law victims march to Palace, Senate

Dennis Carcamo | Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Members of a rights group on Monday marched to the historic Don Chino Roces Bridge near Malacañang to demand from the Aquino administration the indemnification of the victims of rights violations during the imposition of Martial law 40 years ago by the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) also scored President Benigno Aquino III’s government for alleged negligence, resulting to unmonitored withdrawals from the account of Imelda Marcos’ account at the Philippine Veterans Bank.

The P36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten wealth under the name of Mrs. Marcos, has shrunk to a little over P1 million despite the garnishment order by the Sandiganbayan, SELDA said.

Earlier in August, martial law victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court ruled to award the $23 million Marcos ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank. Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino [would] hear and know that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember, but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice,” Selda chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure,” Enriquez added.

Selda also scored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate.

“Inaamag na ata ito sa Senado,” Selda board member Trinidad Herrera said.

From the Don Chino Roces Bridge, the group marched to the Senate in Pasay City and held a noise barrage.

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

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that it’s still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary.

The bill has been pending in Congress since 1997.


Withdrawals From Marcos Wealth Deplored

Chito Chavez | Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — As the country marks the 40th anniversary of martial law this month, activists held a protest rally at Mendiola Bridge on Monday to denounce the Aquino administration for the unmonitored withdrawals from former first lady and now Congresswoman Imelda Marcos’ account at Philippine Veterans Bank.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) said the Php 36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten wealth under the former first lady’s name is down a little over R1 million despite the garnishment order of the Sandiganbayan.

Earlier in August, the martial law victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court awarded the $23 million of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank (PNB).

Selda claimed that Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino hears and knows that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice,’’ Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Selda chairperson, said.

The group maintained that impunity still reigns after decades of struggling for justice.

“After overthrowing Marcos, we filed and won the now historic Hawaii class suit for victims of martial law. But even under the present “matuwid na daan (right path)” of Noynoy (President Benigno S.) Aquino, we continue to suffer from injustice,” Enriquez said.

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure. When are we going see this administration seriously work for the justice that we, survivors of that dark regime, truly deserve?” she said.

Trinidad Herrera, Selda board member deplored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate. “It probably has grown mold at the Senate,” Herrera said of the measure.

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that it is still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary.

The group claimed the bill was first filed in 1997 and has never been signed into law up to the present even as Aquino rants about being a victim of martial law.

“We are not pawns that the government can use for their electoral campaign. The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election,” Trinidad added.


200 biktima ng Martial Law, nag-noise barrage sa Senado

Henry Ateulan, Radyo Patrol 44 | DZMM Radyo Patrol 630

Nagsagawa ng noise barrage sa harap ng Senado ang may 200 biktima ng Martial Law bilang pagbatikos sa anila’y ill-gotten wealth ng pamilya ni dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos.

Pinangunahan ng Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) ang aktibidad.

Isinisigaw ng grupo, ang anila’y kawalan ng aksyon ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino para i-monitor ang walang habas na withdrawal mula sa account ni dating first lady Imelda Marcos sa Philippine Veterans Bank.

Binabanggit pa nila na mula sa P36.5 milyon na ill-gotten wealth umano ng mga Marcos, umaabot na lang ito sa P1 milyon na naka-deposito.

Umaapela rin ang grupo sa mga senador, partikular na sa Senate Committee on Human Rights na isabatas na ang Indemnification Bill o panukalang magbibigay ng karapatan at kabayaran sa pinsalang idinulot ng batas militar.

Ang aktibidad ay isinabay sa ika-40 taon ng pagkakatatag ng Martial Law na idineklara ni dating Pangulong Marcos noong Setyembre 21, 1972.


Marcos’ victims demand payout

Joe Torres | UCANews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The irony of martial law victims’ fate

Passion For Reason 

By: 

I wrote many years back that, for the martial law torture victims, the “unkindest cut of all” is not in being forgotten but in being misunderstood. The other day, they suffered another legal setback, in yet another instance of foreign courts misunderstanding the role of the extraterritorial adjudication of human rights abuses.

The US court returned the case to us because it lay “within the province of Philippine national sovereignty.” Yet why did the victims turn to American courts in the first place? Because our local courts were loath to act on the victims’ desperate pleas.

In 1995, the human rights victims won $2 billion in damages in a Honolulu court. In that case, 9,500 human rights victims filed suit against the Marcos estate, citing a leading 1980 American case, Filartiga v. Peña Irala, wherein US courts were allowed to try human rights violations committed abroad even when both the torturer and the victim were foreigners (or in legalese, without any jurisdictional link to the forum). To this day, that judgment is largely unenforced.

That is why the victims recently tried to collect some $35 million held in a US bank in the name of a dummy Panamanian corporation formed by the Marcoses in 1972 (the year martial law was proclaimed). However, they were opposed by the Philippine government, which claimed the sum for itself. Our own Sandiganbayan had earlier found that the moneys were ill-gotten wealth purloined by the Marcoses, and declared them forfeited in favor of the Philippine government.

The Philippine Supreme Court has also declared that all the ill-gotten wealth “supposedly originated from the government itself [and to] all intents and purposes belong to the people [and] must be returned to the public treasury.” Thus we encounter the first irony: The human rights victims are pitted against the Filipino people and the government that represents them.

The second irony is that these funds, once recovered, are earmarked for agrarian reform. This will pit the human rights victims against the Filipino peasantry. Each group holds a powerful claim to justice: the peasants to the land they till, the torture victims to the monetary compensation for their suffering. Yet this tug-of-war is by no means inevitable or necessary. Indeed, the two groups should be natural allies because the activists are fighting anyway for peasants’ rights, among their many causes. What sets them against one another? It is actually Philippine law that forces them to claim against the same pot of money. In other words, we could have structured it differently so that it’s not a zero-sum game.

This was not the only time that the victims’ pleas were frustrated by the Philippine government. When the victims tried for “recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment” and tried to enforce the Honolulu award in a Philippine court, our local courts mechanically and unsympathetically levied a stiff filing fee; after all, the filing fee is computed on the basis of the award sought to be enforced, in this case, $2 billion. The martial law victims had to go all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which sustained the victims and held that the local courts had thereby denied them an effective remedy under Philippine law.

The third irony is that, the last time some $384 million was transferred by the Swiss to the Philippine government, it ended up being used in the 2004 “fertilizer fund scam” to fund the presidential campaign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The foreign court thought it was doing the right thing giving back the money to the Philippine government.

It is significant that today, the leader of the human rights claimants is no less than the chair of the Commission on Human Rights, Loretta Ann Rosales. She said: “I feel rather sad that a historical judgment won for victims of martial law … should be resisted by purely legal arguments, blind to the spirit of the historical judgment: Compensate those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today.”

The final irony for “those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today” is that it is that freedom that has allowed our courts to look the other way. Not a single Philippine court has ever dared hold Ferdinand Marcos liable for the disappearances, torture and arrests under his regime. This has forced his victims to turn to American courts for justice. It has taken a Honolulu court to render them the justice that Philippine courts have failed to give. And now our courts, called upon merely to enforce a judgment that foreign courts have done them the favor of making, have faltered and balked.

More than a quarter-century after the restoration of democracy, it is time for a political solution in the form of a compensation bill passed by Congress. Some have raised the issue of how to rectify injustices suffered in the distant past. Remember that victims of the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II were compensated only under President Bill Clinton, a good 50 years later. The passage of time should not be a problem.

Another “distant past” issue arises when the actual human rights victim has died and the claimant is usually another family member. To start with, a good number of the actual sufferers are still alive and indeed are precisely in the twilight of their years when they direly need the award. But even otherwise, the typical children of the human rights victims rightly deserve to partake of the award since they, too, have suffered a part of the ordeal that their parents endured.

The recent setback before US courts must prod our Congress to finally pass the compensation bill to bring closure to this dark chapter in our nation’s story.


Court freezes Imelda Marcos’ estimated P34-M account

BY RAPPLER.COM

Posted on 06/29/2012 3:02 PM  | Updated 06/29/2012 5:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan’s fifth division has slapped a garnishment order on the multi-million peso deposits of Ilocos Norte Rep Imelda Romualdez-Marcos at the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) to satisfy a P36-M judgment cost imposed on her late husband, former President Ferdinand Marcos, for siphoning funds from the National Food Authority (NFA) in 1983.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos

In a letter submitted to the graft court yesterday, PVB legal officer Rydely C. Valmores, confirmed that Mrs Marcos has an account with the bank’s main office servicing department (MOSD) branch. Valmores made the disclosure in compliance with the notice of garnishment dated June 20, 2012 sent by Sandiganbayan acting chief sheriff Albert A. Dela Cruz.

“In compliance with the said Notice of Garnishment, PVB-MOSD Branch was instructed to hold/freeze the account sufficient to cover the garnishment amount,” the bank officer said.

The freeze order arose from a Sandiganbayan decision on Sept 9, 2010 ordering Mrs Marcos to return to the government the P10-M NFA funds secretly transferred by her late husband to a private account on July 27, 1983.

In its ruling, the graft court held that former President Marcos pocketed P10-M that was withdrawn on his personal orders from the NFA’s account at the Philippine National Bank. According to the computations made by Sandiganbayan accountant Rodito C. Laggui Jr., interests on the P10-M for almost 29 years has amounted to P34-M.

Mrs Marcos was also ordered to pay 28 years worth of interest on the principal amount with additional penalties of P1 million in moral damages; P500,000 exemplary damages; P250,000 nominal damages; and P200,000 attorney’s fees.

3 properties

Sheriff Dela Cruz said once the judgment cost has been fully satisfied, the Sandiganbayan would release custody over 3 real estate properties of the Marcos family in San Juan City that were earlier seized for possible public auction to raise the required amount.

These were residential lots with the biggest one measuring 1,584 square meters; a second one with an area of 864 sq.m. located on P. Gueverra corner Maude Streets; and a 932-sq.m. property situated on Claro M. Recto Street, all in San Juan City.

A second bank account in the name of Mrs Marcos at Metrobank-Batac, Ilocos Norte branch was also garnished but Metrobank garnishment head Tina Marie L. Sabado said it only contained P100,289.20.

Dela Cruz said once the court has verified that there are enough funds in the PVB account to cover the judgment cost, the Sandiganbayan will lift garnishment on the other bank deposits of Mrs Marcos. – Rappler.com


US court junks victims’ claim on $35-M Marcos assets

4:52 am | Thursday, June 28th, 2012

ALBANY, New York—New York courts have dismissed the claim by victims of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos for more than $35 million from a US brokerage account, citing the competing claim by the Philippine government upheld by its own highest court.

Ferdinand Marcos was sued in the US federal court in Hawaii, where he fled, on behalf of some 10,000 victims of arrest, torture and execution. The plaintiffs obtained a nearly $2-billion judgment after he died and now seek related assets. (en.wikipedia.org photo)

The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest judicial body, says the state’s courts for now “should not intercede” in a case that remains within the province of Philippine national sovereignty.

If the assets belong to that country’s people, also victimized by the Marcos regime that was overthrown in 1986, the court says the assets should be returned.

Marcos was sued in the US federal court in Hawaii, where he fled, on behalf of some 10,000 victims of arrest, torture and execution. The plaintiffs obtained a nearly $2-billion judgment after he died and now seek related assets.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto), an organization of former political prisoners, said in Manila that the decision was “disheartening for the victims.”

Proves Marcoses stole

“At the same time, I’m also happy because that proves that the Marcoses stole money from the people, and that should be returned to the Filipino people. In effect, the court ruled in favor of the Philippine government,” she said by phone.

“The problem is, it might be stolen again if it’s returned to the people,” Enriquez said, recalling that part of the $386-million ($630 million in 2004) “Marcos loot,” which the Swiss Supreme Court ordered transferred to the Philippines in 1997, was used in the 2004 “fertilizer fund scam.”

Enriquez, daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the class suit filed against the Marcos family, said lawyer Robert Swift made the claim for the victims to fund the $2-billion judgment.

Selda filed a class action suit for 10,000 victims before the US Federal District Court System on April 7, 1986. The court ruled against the Marcos family on Sept. 22, 1992, finding the dictator guilty of crimes against humanity. The court ordered the Marcos family to pay exemplary damages of $1.9 billion and later, compensatory damages of $776 million to the victims.

Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said in a text message: “I feel rather sad that a historical judgment won for victims of martial law—the first court to declare Marcos guilty of human rights violations—should be resisted by pure legal arguments, blind to the spirit of the historical judgment: compensate those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. It’s a sad day.” Reports from AP and TJ Burgonio in Manila


Bulatlat:Pres. Aquino Should Ensure Immediate Passage of Marcos Indemnification Measures – SELDA (PR)

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PinoyWeekly:Hinaharap ng karapatang pantao sa ilalim ni PNoy

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Malaya:99 political prisoners in hunger strike, solidarity fast, says SELDA

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