Press Releases

Martial law activists renew call “No to dictatorship! Never again to martial law!”

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“We ousted a dictator before. We can do it again!”

This is how the martial law victims and their relatives expressed their resolve not to allow the resurrection of dark days of martial law.

 

Martial law victims trooped at the Aquino residence in Times Street, Quezon City to remind Pres. Aquino that it was not just former Sen. Benigno Aquino who fought the former dictator.

 

“The Filipino people opposed the fascist, bureaucrat-capitalist and imperialist character the Marcos regime long before the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino was assasinated, and long before martial law was declared,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, activist and political prisoner during martial law.

They held placards bearing signs that shouted  “Biktima ni Macoy noon, biktima ni Noynoy ngayon! No to Dictatorship! Never again to Martial Law!”

 

“We remain vigilant and defiant to any sitting President who pretends to be ‘pro-people, pro-democracy and patriotic.’” The country’s situation has not significantly changed from the time of former dictator Marcos up to Noynoy Aquino’s administration. The country remains under the shackles of corruption, subservience to U.S. imperialist policies and state repression. Now, Noynoy Aquino wants to perpetuate himself in power by amending the Philippine Constitution and clipping the powers of the judiciary.  His regime is set on further selling out the national patrimony.  Noynoy Aquino is doing a Marcos,” Enriquez, chairperson of SELDA, said.

“The Filipino people will not take these sitting down. We call on our fellow Filipinos to do the same during the fascist regime of Marcos.  Makibaka, Huwag Matakot!” Enriquez concluded. ###

 

PHOTO CREDITS: SELDA

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Victims to urge Pres. Aquino to nullify appointment of former PNP General Sarmiento

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News Release
7 March 2014
SELDA continues to protest Pres. BS Aquino’s appointment of former PNP General as head of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board; exhorts

Victims to urge Pres. Aquino to nullify appointment of former PNP General Sarmiento

“It’s a yellow-colored rehabilitation of Martial Law,” SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez called Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino’s defense of the appointment of former PNP  General Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, as chairperson of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board. 

The group returned to Mendiola on Friday to demand the nullification of the President’s appointment of Sarmiento, a member of the defunct Philippine Constabulary during Martial Law and later on became a two-star general of the present PNP. 

According to Enriquez, the appointment of the former general is not only a scheme “to marginalize the legitimate victims of the Marcos fascist regime but also an attempt to deodorize and prettify the image of the police and the military as dreaded martial law apparatuses.”

Three protesters, dressed as Pres. Aquino, Sarmiento and CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales, painted yellow the rolls of concertina wire on steel frames blocking the road going to Malacañang. The act symbolizes the scheme of the Aquino government in trying to conjure a police-military effort of dispensing reparation by appointing a former general to head the martial law victims’ claims board.  “If this is not callousnes, then this is an asinine behaviour of a president who lacks deep understanding of history on the people’s role in the struggle against martial law,” Enriquez added.

“The Aquino administration is trying so hard to defend this shameless appointment by shrugging off criticisms from different groups,  institutions and personalities who have fought martial law. Does this foretell how the Claims Board (HRVCB) will act on the victims’ clamor for the long-overdue justice? We all know that justice should be rendered soon especially that many of the victims worthy of recognition and reparation are in the sunset of their lives. But isn’t Pres. Aquino’s defense of Sarmiento’s appointment a way of killing us softly? Rubbing more salt into a gaping injury? exclaimed Enriquez. 

SELDA reiterated its position that Pres. BS Aquino’s appointment is a total disregard of the provisions stated in Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which state that the members of the HRVCB should have deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and  involvement in efforts against human rights violations during the regime of former President Marcos.

“It is not only her credentials as former PC officer that is anathema to the Filipinos’ historic struggle against Martial Law, but her zero track record of any involvement in asserting human rights nor any understanding or knowledge of the plights and struggles of Martial Law victims during and after the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship,” said Enriquez.  

The group maintained that former PNP General Sarmiento should not head the Claims Board, being part of the PC which, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, became the main machineries of the Marcos dictatorship in implementing the worst of human rights abuses under Martial Law. It was the PC and the AFP that dispersed rallies, “salvaged,” abducted, tortured, arrested and detained thousands of Martial Law activists. Up to the present, these military apparatuses are still the violators of human rights. “Thus, General Sarmiento’s presence in the Claims Board does not inspire respect nor confidence in the hearts of the Martial Law victims, even if the President’s apologists have positively endorsed her appointment, ” Enriquez said. 

“In appointing former PNP Gen. Sarmiento,  Pres. BS Aquino is deceptively doing a doublespeak:  while supposedly supporting the ML victims’ cry for justice by finally implementing the law that recognizes their contribution to the struggle for human rights, the government junks altogether the state’s admission of the atrocities and repression committed  against the Filipino people, the supposed objective of the law. Hence, ML victims  continue to demand  Pres. Aquino to nullify  his appointment of a police general to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board. She must be replaced by someone who possesses credibility, integrity and deep empathy towards the martial law victims,” Enriquez ended. ###

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SELDA files certiorari at SC, demands nullification of Gen. Sarmiento’s appointment to Human Rights Victims Claims Board

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News Release
25 February 2014

Continuing protest vs PNoy-created HR Victims Claims Board
SELDA files certiorari at SC, demands nullification of Gen. Sarmiento’s appointment to Human Rights Victims Claims Board

On the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power I, Martial Law victims led by former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo filed a petition today asking the Supreme Court to nullify the appointment of PNP Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as chairperson of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, the formation of which Pres. BS Aquino announced on February 13, 2014.

Petitioners include martial law victims namely Former Bayan Muna Rep. Saturnino Ocampo, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, Dr. Maria Carolina P. Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi and Josephine Dongail. All of them belong to the almost 10,000 Martial Law victims awaiting recognition as stated in Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 signed into law by Pres. BS Aquino.

According to RA 10368, members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board should possess the following qualifications: 1) must be of known probity, competence and integrity; 2) 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; 3) 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 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.

The petition for certiorari concluded that “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 petition said, “The 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.”

The counsels of the petitioners are from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) namely Attys. Edre Olalia, Julian Oliva, Ephraim Cortez and Minerva Lopez.

A number of Martial Law victims gathered infront of the Supreme Court to support the filing of the petition. ###

Reference: Jigs Clamor, SELDA national secretariat coordinator, 0917-5965859


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RECALL PHILIPPINE CONSTABULARY RELIC GEN. LINA SARMIENTO FROM THE MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS CLAIMS BOARD

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Press Statement
24 February 2014

We denounce the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento as chair of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB). After prolonging the formation of the HRVCB for almost a year, the Aquino government made a historical affront to the victims by appointing a former member of the Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of the PNP, as head of the Claims Board. It is not only her credentials as former PC officer that is an anathema to the historic struggle against martial law, but her zero track records of any involvement in asserting human rights nor any understanding or knowledge ofthe plights and struggles of martial law victims during and after the dark days of Marcos Dictatorship.

On 13 February 2014, Malacañang announced the formation of the HRVCB a year after the passage of RA 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, a retired 2-star general of the Philippine National Police as chair of the HRVCB. To complete the members of the board, also appointed are Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Byron Bocar, Aurora Parong, Galuasch Ballaho, Jacqueline Mejia, Glenda Litong, Wilfred Asis and Erlinda Senturias.

The PC and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are the main apparatuses of the Marcos dictatorship in implementing the worst of human rights abuses under Martial Law. It is the PC and the AFP that dispersed rallies, “salvaged,” abducted, tortured, arrested and detained thousands of Martial Law activists. Her presence in the Claims Board does not command respect nor confidence in the hearts of the Martial Law victims.

In appointing Gen. Sarmiento, the Aquino government junks altogether the state’s admission of the atrocities and repression used against the Filipino people, the supposed objective of the law. Instead, it promotes into position those who violated the people’s human rights. This is no different from the Pres. Aquino’s appointment of military officials to higher positions under his presidency.

BS Aquino’s Claims Board does not represent the victims of Martial Law. The Aquino government completely disregarded the provision in the law which underlines that members of the HRVCB should have deep knowledge, capacity and experience in defending human rights. Not a single nominee of SELDA, most of them widely known as Martial Law victims and human rights champions, was appointed to the Claims Board. Much to our dismay, CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales and DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima even came to the rescue by saying said that Gen. Sarmiento is qualified for the job.

However the Aquino government justifies it, the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento goes way beyond the issue of qualifications. It is a travesty of justice. It is a conscious effort to discredit and dishonour Martial Law victims. The Aquino government, which has banked on the people’s clamor for justice and change, is trying to push the people’s struggle for justice farther in the sidelines. The appointment of a PC relic to head the claims board is not only considered a grievous insult to the struggle against martial law but a shameless denial of the ideals in asserting freedom and democracy that was highlighted during the first Edsa People Power in 1986.

With its brandishing of human rights violators in the military and the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento, the people who fought the dictatorship cannot expect anything more from the current administration. It is rather just to continue to fight for justice. SELDA demands the immediate recall to Sarmiento’s appointment.

SELDA has formed the People’s Claims Board (PCB).This will be the primary body to stand for the victims of Martial Law. It will ensure that all who suffered atrocities during the Marcos dictatorship shall be recognized and indemnified. The PCB will also ensure that RA 10368 will be implemented. It will formulate an Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) which will be submitted to the HRVCB as basis of the law’s implementation.

The PCB will continue to assert that, based on conclusive presumption, the 2,013 Martial Law victims that were delisted (who were part of the 9,539 members of the class suit against the Marcoses filed in Hawaii in 1986) and thosewho will step forward to make themselves recognized will be rightfully recognized and indemnified.

The PCB is composed of individuals actively in defense of human rights, and were victims themselves. They are Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo; SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez; SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan; former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza; University of the Philippines Prof. Judy Taguiwalo; Dr. Edelina dela Paz; Atty. Kit Enriquez, Atty. Marcos Risonarand Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr.

Martial law victims in the regions of Southern Mindanao, Bicol and Panay launched also similar protest actions to express their grievances on the formation of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

SELDA will continue to fight for justice for the victims of human rights violations.As long as the perpetrators are in power, and the Aquino government continues to implement the same policy of extrajudicial killings, abduction and enforced disappearances, illegal arrest and detention, torture and the wanton use of martial law tactics against the struggling people, we will continue to stand and assert for justice. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
           Jigs Clamor, SELDA national coordinator, 0917-5965859


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Recall the apppointment of Gen. Sarmiento as head of HRV Claims Board! Justice to all Martial Law Victims!

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PRESS RELEASE | SELDA-Southern Mindanao Region
February 24, 2014

DAVAO CITY – Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto-Southern Mindanao Region (SELDA-SMR) joins the National Day of Protest today, February 24, 2014 to mark the eve of commemoration of the 28th anniversary of People Power 1 with a protest over Pres. Benigno Aquino’s appointment of a retired police general and former Philippine Constabulary as head of Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

PNP Director Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, was part of the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines who implemented Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law that resulted to gross human rights violations during 1970’s to mid-80’s.

“We are disgusted with the Aquino-formed Claims Board! This is the gravest insult that BS Aquino government inflicted upon the victims of Martial Law. It is unjustifiable that a former PC, the most dreaded human rights violator will lead a group that will process the recognition and reparation of Martial Law victims? How ironic, we cannot simply accept that!” expressed Fe Salino, secretary-general of SELDA-SMR.

It was also last year’s commemoration of People Power 1 when Pres. BS Aquino signed Republic Act 10368 known as “Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013”, with its solemn mandate to provide reparation and recognition of human rights victims of the Marcos regime is invested with the gravitas of history forged in the struggle against a dictatorship. The law is also a culmination of the victims’ struggle and the quest for truth, justice and the condoning of rash and remorseless assaults against freedom and human dignitiy.

Republic Act 10368 states that members of the Claims Board must be of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding of knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion, and advocacy.

Salino asserted that, “The appointment of Gen. Sarmiento manifests Pres. BS Aquino’s arrogance that is bound to marginalize the tens of thousands of human rights violations victims right from the very start. The task of the Claim’s Board is not only monetary compensation but most of all to render justice for the Martial Law victims. Thus, we demand to recall the appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento and we will vow to support the formation of a People’s Claims Board. The People’s Claims Board is composed of known anti-dictatorship activists and human rights advocates, mostly victims of martial law themselves: Makabayan President Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, and SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan.”#

FOR REFERENCE:
FE SALINO, secretary-general, SELDA-SMR,Mobile No. 0921-715-8403

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BS Aquino’s ML Claims Board a distortion of history

PRESS RELEASE | Karapatan.org
February 20, 2014

“The Aquino government chose to commemorate the 28th year of People Power 1 and the fall of the Marcos dictatorship by consigning a general who was part of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) to head Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.  “The appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento is a subtle way to rewriting history. It obliterates the distinction between perpetrators and victims of human rights violations during martial law,”Palabay added.

Karapatan scored Sarmiento and other Aquino apologists who try to focus on the monetary compensation for the victims of martial law. The task of the Claims Board is not simply “to receive, assess, evaluate, investigate and process applications for compensation of victims of human rights violations” as Sarmiento put it.

“The heart of the matter is justice,” Palabay said. “The Claims board is a mechanism designed by a law that aims, first and foremost, to render justice to martial law victims.”

The law, in fact, specifically states its intent to “recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”

“Thus, the membership of the Claims Board should reflect the spirit of justice,” said Palabay. “Viewed from different angles, the appointment of Sarmiento is unjustifiable. At best it is ludicrous; at worst, it shows how perverted this government views history.”]

Republic Act 10368 states that members of the Claims Board must be of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding of knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion, and advocacy.

Karapatan joins the demand to recall the appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento and supports the formation of a People’s Claims Board. The People’s Claims Board is composed of known anti-dictatorship activists and human rights advocates, mostly victims of martial law themselves: Makabayan President Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela Women’s Party representative Liza Maza, UP Professor Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina de la Paz, Atty. Kit Enriquez, and Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr. ###


SELDA forms People’s Claims Board, demands recall in BS Aquino’s appointment of PNP general to recognize ML victims

Press Statement
17 February 2014

SELDA announces the formation of the People’s Claim Board, in protest of the Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s appointment of a PNP general in the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) to implement the law.

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) has repeatedly urged the BS Aquino government to immediately form the claims board. On February 13, more than a week before the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 or RA 10368 turns a year old, the Aquino government through the Commission on Human Rights announced the appointment of PNP Retired General Lina Sarmiento as chairperson of the HRVCB. After a year of shutting off Martial Law victims, the Aquino government arbitrarily appoints a former police general.

BS Aquino’s appointment of Sarmiento is a clear affront to martial law victims. Furthermore, it asserts that the appointment of an ex-PC officer to head the martial law claims board is tantamount to a shameless honoring of an atrocious martial law apparatus.  The defunct Philippine Constabulary is the forerunner of the current Philippine National Police that has records of the gravest human rights violations during the dark days of Marcos dictatorship.

Pres. Aquino clearly disregards the provisions of the law which enumerated the qualifications of members of the HRVCB.  Gen Sarmiento is bereft of credibility, much more, her deep knowledge of martial law atrocities and empathy to its victims is put into question since she is part of the institution accused of rampant human rights abuses during that period.

Apart from being a PC officer under Marcos, Sarmiento was the former head of the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office during the Arroyo regime, which has the gravest post-martial law record of human rights abuses. This does nothing to merit her appointment. We express doubts that under Sarmiento’s chairpersonship of Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board will become an independent body.

In forming the People’s Claims Board, SELDA makes this as a parallel body to act both as a watchdog and a monitoring body of Aquino’s HRVCB. The People’s Claims Board priority is to ensure that real and legitimate martial law victims will not be marginalized. There is no room for backing out and toning down our call for justice. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

Sarmiento, apologist of human rights violators, has no place in the ML victims’ Claims Board – SELDA

News Release
18 February 2014

“An apologist of human rights violators has no place in the Martial Law victims’ claims board,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez in protest of the appointment of retired PNP Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

Enriquez explained that victims of human rights violations do not deserve an unqualified person, much more a representative of State forces, to head what is supposed to be a mechanism to recognize state atrocities during the martial law period.

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB), according to RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims and Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013, is the body tasked to evaluate and process the application for claims of the martial law victims.

“The appointment of an ex-PC officer to head the Claims Board is honoring the Philippine Constabulary that committed grave atrocities during the Martial Law regime,” Enriquez said.

The defunct Philippine Constabulary is the forerunner of the current Philippine National Police, which along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines implemented “salvages”, illegal arrest, detention, abduction and torture against people who fought the dictatorship.

Aside from being a PC officer under Marcos, Sarmiento was the former head of the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office during the Arroyo regime. “The Macapagal-Arroyo regime had the worst record of human rights violations post-Martial Law. Sarmiento’s position as human rights officer under Arroyo is similarly deplorable,” Enriquez added.

“Pres. Aquino clearly disregards the provisions of the law which enumerated the qualifications of members of the HRVCB.  Gen Sarmiento is bereft of credibility, much more, her deep knowledge of martial law atrocities and empathy to the ML victims are questionable being part of the institution accused of rampant human rights abuses,” Enriquez said.

The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013 or RA 10368 states that members of the claims board

  1. must be of known probity, competence and integrity;
  2. 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;
  3. must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.

“We do not see any clear basis for the appointment of Sarmiento; only a conscious effort to discredit and dishonor Martial Law victims. We demand a recall to Sarmiento’s appointment,” Enriquez said.

SELDA formed the People’s Claims Board that will act both as a watchdog and a monitoring body of Aquino’s HRVCB. The priority of the People’s Claims Board is to ensure that real and legitimate martial law victims will not be marginalized.

Members of the People’s Claims Board are former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina dela Paz, Atty. Kit Enriquez and Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

Appointment of woman police general to HR Claims Board scored

PRESS RELEASE | Tanggol Bayi
February  18, 2013

Women rights group Tanggol Bayi criticized the recent appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento of the Philippine National Police as chair of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that shall process the recognition and reparation of Martial Law victims.tanggol_bayi

“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,” said Kiri Dalena, Tanggol Bayi convenor.

Dalena said that during the Marcos regime, thousands of women were killed, disappeared, tortured, raped, illegally arrested, and detained by the Philippine Constabulary and other government apparatuses to quell the resistance of the Filipino people against the dictatorship.

“These human rights violations are continued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. During the Arroyo administration, when Sarmiento was part of the PNP Human Rights Office, 152 women were victims of extrajudicial killing, 31 women were disappeared, while 290 women were illegally arrested and detained,” said Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi co-convenor.

Under the Noynoy Aquino administration, human rights group Karapatan documented 18 victims of extrajudicial killing, 3 cases of rape of girls, and 33 women political prisoners who were likewise victims of illegal arrests and fabricated charges.

Palabay added that with Sarmiento’s appointment, “Pres. Aquino is 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. While it is important to promote the substantive and democratic participation of women in all political processes, the appointment of Sarmiento does not, at all accounts, indicate that the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged Filipino women who suffered and struggled during the Martial Law period will attain justice, with a representative of their oppressors at the helm of the claims body,” Palabay said.

Tanggol Bayi likewise scored Malacanang’s disregard for its women nominees to the claims board, who 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.” These are minimum qualifications needed for claims board members under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The women’s group nominated former Rep. Liza Maza, one of the primary authors of the said law and a known women’s rights activist, and Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, who is a Martial Law victim and a women’s rights advocate. They also supported the nomination of Marie Hilao Enriquez, a veteran human rights activist and daughter of one of the named plaintiffs in the Hawaii class suit against the Marcoses.

Reference: Kiri Dalena, Convenor (0920-9755574)
           Cristina Palabay, Convenor (0917-3162831)

“The height of insult and indifference to ML victims!” – SELDA

News Release
14 February 2014

Aquino appointment of PNP general as rights victims claims board chair

“The height of insult and indifference to ML victims!” – SELDA

SELDA expressed disgust over the appointment of a retired police general as chair of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that shall process the recognition and reparation of Martial Law victims – PNP Director Lina Castillo-Sarmiento.

“This is the gravest insult that the Aquino government inflicted upon the victims of Martial Law. Sarmiento was part of the Philippine Constabulary that implemented, along with the AFP, the worst of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship. How can we accept that?” exclaimed Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of SELDA.

Not a single SELDA nominee was appointed to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, despite a provision in the law which says that SELDA is one of the human rights organizations recognized by the law that may submit its nominations to represent and help recognize victims of the Marcos dictatorship.

“This is not the real sentiments of martial law victims. This is BS Aquino’s Claims Board led by a general originating from the most dreaded human rights violators, the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC), a forerunner of the Philippine National Police (PNP),” said Enriquez.

Other appointed members of the claims board are Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Byron Bocar, Aurora Parong, Galuasch Ballaho, Jacqueline Mejia, Glenda Litong, Wilfred Asis and Erlinda Senturias.

Enriquez called the appointment of Sarmiento as “overbearing arrogance of the Aquino government that is bound to marginalize the tens of thousands of rights violation victims right from the start.”

“Pres. BS Aquino made the victims wait too long for the appointment of the claims board only to fail them in the end.  Aquino II’s recent appointments only show how he considers Filipinos who fought for freedom and democracy, and on whose struggle his mother and himself were able to take the reins of government.  We vow even more to assert our call for justice.  We shall monitor and watch closely this claims board of Aquino,” said Enriquez.

A press conference will be held by SELDA on Saturday, February 15, in protest of the Aquino-formed claims board. The panel shall be what SELDA will call as the “People’s Claims Board,” that consists of Martial Law victims submitted for nomination to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 0917-5616800

SELDA hits delisting of martial law victims anew

News Release
4 February 2013
Include all 9,539 Hawaii class suit members

SELDA hits delisting of martial law victims anew

SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) reiterated its demand to reinstate the 2,013 names of delisted Martial Law victims who should receive reparation in any of the settlement agreements.

The 2,013 delisted names are part of 9,539 victims recognized by the Hawaii court who filed a class suit against former president Ferdinand Marcos in the Federal Court of Honolulu in Hawaii in 1986.

According to Marie-Hilao Enriquez, the Hawaii court shouldn’t have wantonly delisted members of the class suit based merely on the reason that they failed to reply to letters sent by the Hawaii court asking for verification of their identity.

“Delisting the victims who were part of those who went after the Marcoses is a grave injustice. They were arbitrarily dropped from the list without notice and without due process, denying them of their right to reparation.  We reiterate our demand to Judge Real to revert to the old list of Martial Law victims,” said Enriquez.

In October last year, SELDA filed an opposition on the delisting of members at the Hawaii court, stating that there has been an executory judgment by the U.S. Court of Appeals dated December 17, 1996 that the number of victims who were qualified reparation remain at 9,539.

“This only means that the victims shouldn’t be given more burden to write to the Hawaii courts, or confirm their identities because they have already been recognized as legitimate class suit members and victims,” said Enriquez.

The filed opposition also said that class suit members come from different parts of the archipelago, and many of them are ordinary farmers and workers who may not have the financial means and resources to immediately respond to the said reply required by the court. Many more belong to the informal settlers – the urban poor people who might have been moved from their original residences due to forced evictions and demolitions of their abodes.

“We shouldn’t aggravate their burden anymore, as justice has been so elusive from them. Until now, they are still demanding for the actual implementation of the law recognizing Martial Law victims,” said Enriquez.

SELDA hit the continuous non-implementation of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act. It has been almost a year since Pres. Aquino signed the law, but until now, no claims board has been formed. The claims board is the body responsible for the process of recognition and reparation of the 9,539 victims and others who were not part of the Hawaii class suit. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

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Political Prisoners’ 10 Alternatives on the Use of Pork Barrel

Political Prisoners' 10 Alternatives on the Use of Pork Barrel


Immediately release political prisoners on humanitarian grounds

Letter to the Editor

Decades after the Martial Law years, the Philippines continues to face the grim reality of the existence of political prisoners. Whether under the fascist Marcos dictatorship or “democratic” administrations after him, the rights of political prisoners are repeatedly violated as they are slapped with fabricated charges, arbitrarily arrested and illegally detained. Many of them are tortured and denied their right to counsel and due process.  They suffer subhuman prison conditions and prolonged imprisonment,and  intentionally slowed down judicial process.

We are calling for the immediate release of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds, which include the ailing and the elderly (60 years old and above). As of August 2013, there are 449 political prisoners in different detention centers all over the country. 154 of them were arrested under the Noynoy Aquino government, a significantly large number for an administration that denies the existence of political prisoners. There are 48 ailing political prisoners that need medical attention, while 28 prisoners belong to the elderly and 35 are women.

The poor and inadequate  health services that the government provides endanger the lives of the relatively more vulnerable sick and elderly political prisoners. The meager budget allotted to prison inmates makes jails and detention centers barely habitable, unsafe and hazardous to the health and general well-being of prisoners.  Keeping the sick and elderly political prisoners longer in prison leads to serious health complications that could be life-threatening.

Take the case of  Alison Alcantara, 55, who suffered from uncontrolled diabetes the past years and recently died of pneumonia, sepsis and fatal arrhythmia after falling into a coma at the New Bilibid Prisons.  Ramon Argente, 53, from the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail has just undergone a triple heart by-pass at the Philippine Heart Center. Bringing him back to prison will not in any way help in his speedy recovery, aside from the fact that his detention has been a violation of his rights since day one when he was arrested without warrant on a variety of trumped-up charges.

And who are the the political prisoners? They are activists, farmers and workers, students, professionals, cultural workers. Just recently, a physicist and activist, Kim Gargar, was arrested and detained in Mati, Davao Oriental while performing his work as a scientist. The military now feasts on tagging him as a member of the New People’s Army. Red-tagging and vilification against political prisoners by state security forces have become standard fare to justify the political prisoners’ continued detention and stripping of their rights.

To obfuscate the political nature of the offenses attributed to government critics and people resisting administration policies and programs that harm the majority of the people, criminal charges are filed against them, usually with insufficient or planted evidence.  There is no place for political prisoners in a country supposedly democratic and treading a “righteous path.”

Please join the families and friends of political prisoners, human rights advocates and SELDA, the organization of former political detainees, in the campaign to FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS.  In the immediate, let us all work for the release on humanitarian grounds of the sick and elderly political prisoners.

MARIE HILAO-ENRIQUEZ, chairperson, SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto)
# 1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts. Brgy. Central Quezon City

Aquino gov’t denies proper medical attention, puts ailing political detainees “on death row,” says SELDA

Press Release
October 8, 2013

Rights group SELDA said that by deliberately denying proper medical treatment on ailing political detainees, the Aquino government is “putting them on death row.”

This is all in a stark contrast of what the Aquino is treating Janet Lim-Napoles, an accused plunderer involved in multi-billion pork scams, now billeted in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa City enjoying the comfort and amenities of the rich and (in)famous, according to the group.

“We are enraged at the double standard treatment of inmates under the Aquino administration. Political prisoners who are victims of false and trumped-up charges are treated like dirt in prison facilities.  While, according to them, those who skimmed government funds with the collaborations of certain high government officials are given with the most elaborate security, high food allowances, air-conditioned rooms, regular monitoring of medical status, easy communication with the outside world, liberal visiting procedures, among other privileges. Surely, this is how the government treats one of its own – in a crook’s prison haven, while political prisoners rot in hellish prison holes.” SELDA national coordinator Jigs Clamor said.

Clamor added that by continuously denying them to be treated immediately and properly given medical care, the government is endangering more lives of political prisoners. Many of them, according to SELDA, have medical conditions that, if left untreated, are vulnerable to more serious complications of diseases.

Ramon Argente now confined at the Philippine Heart Center, Quezon City

Ramon Argente now confined at the Philippine Heart Center, Quezon City

SELDA is calling for immediate attention as another political prisoner, peasant organizer Ramon Argente, 53, needs an immediate coronary artery bypass surgery to save him from coronary heart disease. He is confined at the Philippine Heart Center since September 26.

“Argente, among other political prisoners, has not been even proven guilty of the trumped-up charges filed against them. His rights, along with his co-accused have been violated since day one of arrest. They were arrested without warrant, held incommunicado for days after their arrest, and denied of counsel – all of which are violations to their right to due process, freedom and safety,” Clamor said.

Argente, along with union organizers Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, have been charged with several and varying counts of murder, theft and frustrated murder before the Regional Trial Court Branch 64 in Labo, Camarines Norte. A total of 32 individuals were included in the said charges, where four have been arrested including Vegas, Camposano and Argente.

The charges are said to be in connection with their alleged participation in an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) against the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte in the eastern part of Luzon, April 29.

Millions for plunderers, centavos for political prisoners

The group also decried the continuous denial of the government to pay for the hospitalization expenses of political prisoners. For heart bypass alone, Clamor said that the family of Argente is asked to raise around Php700,000.00.

“By all means, these should be shouldered by the state. This amount cannot even be compared to what the government is spending to take care of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Napoles. We pay for every single centavo to save lives of plunderers and wrongdoers, while we let those wrongly accused die from crimes they did not even commit. This is injustice at the very core,” Clamor said.

Alison Alcantara during his confinement at the Philippine General Hospital

Alison Alcantara during his confinement at the Philippine General Hospital

Argente is one of the 48 ailing political prisoners that need proper and immediate medical attention, according to SELDA.  One of them, Alison Alcantara, died last month due to fatal arrhytmia, sepsis and health associated pneumonia.

“His life could have been saved if only he was accorded of his rights to healthcare as a prisoner,” Clamor said.

SELDA is calling on the release of all sick and elderly political prisoners on humanitarian grounds, including those who have served a long time in prison.

“This is also the reason why SELDA joins the growing movement for the abolition of all forms of pork barrel.  The government should allot and re-channel the pork barrel funds to improve prison conditions in detention centers all over the country, among other basic social services which should be provided to the people,” Clamor said. ###

Reference: Jigs Clamor, SELDA National Coordinator, 0917-5965859

SELDA members troop to Malacanang, assail Noynoy Aquino’s inaction on RA 10368

SAM_2013Press Release
September 10, 2013

Members of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) together with the surviving victims of human rights violations during martial law and their relatives trooped to Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) Bridge to express their grievances and assailed the continued inaction of the Aquino administration in implementing the Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013 otherwise known as RA 10368.

President Benigno Aquino III signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 into a law in February, in time for the 27th anniversary of EDSA People Power I Uprising.

“To date, after almost seven months, the law has not been implemented because since its signing, President Noynoy Aquino has not appointed members of  the Human Rights Claims Board as stipulated in the law.  The Human Rights Victims Claims Board shall process, evaluate and approve application for claims of reparation and recognition. Further, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) will also be made by the board.  Thus, without the Human Rights Victims Claims Board and its implementing rules and regulations, the law becomes inutile,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of SELDA.

SELDA asks why and what it is taking the President so long in implementing the law.  ‘We are afraid that one reason why President Aquino is taking his own sweet time to form the Board is for him to exclude SELDA – nominees from being members of the Board.  We in SELDA also hope that Palace officials have not dipped their fingers into the P10 B fund for victims’ reparation, and would not go the way of the scandalous pork barrel system.”

“We can no longer take Noynoy Aquino’s foot-dragging on the law while almost every month or week, a martial law victim dies. “Aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo.” It adds insult to injury of martial law victims and their relatives when the said law is not given the immediate and appropriate attention by the Aquino government.” Enriquez concluded. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

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SELDA pays tribute to Atty. Romeo Candazo, 61

Atty. Romeo Candazo

Atty. Romeo Candazo

 
PRESS STATEMENT
20 August 2013

SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) pays its highest tribute to Atty. Romeo Candazo, youth activist, public servant, journalist, educator, human rights lawyer, and as a former political detainee during the Martial Law years, one of the founding members of SELDA.

A scholar during his college days at the University of the Philippines, Atty. Candazo was active in the struggle against the Marcos regime which cost him his freedom many times during the Martial Law years.

In 1985, he was one of the former political detainees who took the initiative of founding SELDA. The first SELDA Board was composed of Fidel Agcaoili, Julieta de Lima-Sison, Joaquin “Don Chino” Roces, Jake Almeda Lopez, Francisco Rodrigo, Jose Mari Velez, Benjamin Guingona, Danilo Vizmanos and Romeo Candazo.

As one of the major organizations that gathered the thousands of victims during Martial Law, SELDA was able to file the historic class suit against the Marcoses in 1986. The stories both of suffering and of courage of Atty. Candazo and other victims who came forward to let the world know of their experiences be known, are now the basis for the continuing struggle for recognition and reparation for Martial Law victims.

It is with deep regret that we in SELDA learned of his death without him witnessing the implementation of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. Atty. Candazo may have served well as one of the members of the Claims Board, the primary body to identify Martial Law victims who deserve recognition and reparation. If Pres. Aquino is not taking his own sweet time in implementing the law, Atty. Candazo should have seen the fruits of his struggle while he was still alive.

Most of the Martial Law victims are either ill or suffer old age, their health conditions worsened by the physical and emotional torture they experienced at the time of their imprisonment. Almost every month, we pay tribute to SELDA members and Martial Law victims, who were still able to attend meetings, joined lobby efforts in Congress, reached out to fellow political detainees and contemporaries, and marched the streets – all in the hope that they shall be recognized and be heeded upon by the current Aquino government. We shall not let their passing be in vain.

As we remember Atty. Candazo, Atty. Romeo Capulong, Bong Barsoles, Romeo Luneta, Maita Gomez, Rudy Lagoc, Manny Loste, Mike Biriña and all those who served the people and fought for justice, we demand the Aquino government to implement the law now, form the Claims Board now. There’s no other time but now. ###


Rights victims who won a favorable judgement in Hawaii clarifies position on the so-called recoveries from the sale of a Monet painting

SAM_0374
Press Statement
19 August 2013

The Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), the organization of former political prisoners which  initiated the filing of the historic class action suit for human rights violations against former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and family, today welcomed the efforts of recovery  of the ill-gotten wealth of the  Marcoses to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court.

To clarify, SELDA Chairperson Marie Hilao Enriquez, whose parents – Maximo and Celsa Hilao – are the lead plaintiffs in the historic suit, recalled that the Hawaii Court ruled in 1992 in favor of the victims; the ruling became final and executory in 1995; providing for a $2B exemplary and $776M compensatory damages for the Hawaii claimants. This meant that any recovery of Marcoses’ property by the Hawaii claimants’ lawyer, in this case, Atty. Robert Swift, can be undertaken to collect on the judgment imposed by the Hawaiian Court.  Therefore, as long as the full judgment rendered by the Hawaii court has not been fully satisfied by the Marcoses, Atty. Robert Swift can identify Marcos’ illegal properties for the benefit of the Hawaiian claimants (meaning those who are included in the 9,539 victims validated by the Court in Hawaii.)

We welcome the news that the victims included in the Hawaii case, would benefit from the sale of a valuable painting that Imelda Marcos acquired during the martial law years.  We recognize Atty. Robert Swift’s efforts to go after the Marcoses ill-gotten wealth to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court. However, we would like to reiterate and remind Atty. Swift and other lawyers that before any settlement and distribution of monies from such takes place, the victims must be consulted; their views on such obtained as they have a right to know who this “secret buyer” is (for all the victims know, the buyer may also end up a Marcos) and what the provisions of the settlement are.  Even if the Hawaii court determines the fairness of the settlement by asking the victims, the latter can only reply intelligently if they are well- informed of the agreements.

We also hope that the original 9,539 victims validated by the Court in 1994 will be included in the beneficiaries of the said recovery.  We do not like a repeat of the 2011 so-called check distribution to the 7,526 victims “from the settlement agreement reached by Atty. Robert Swift and the Marcos crony Jose Yao-Campos for the 2 pieces of real estate properties in the US of Imelda Marcos.”

The 2011 check distribution disenfranchised 2, 013 victims who seemed delisted arbitrarily by the lawyers in the Hawaii suit. We demand that the original list of 9,539 and NOT ONLY the 7,526 victims will benefit from this boasted sale of the Monet painting.  As the judgment has not been fully satisfied yet and the lawyer can go on recovering or  making settlement agreements with the Marcoses, we condemn the disenfranchisement of those delisted from the original 9,539.  Even if the original claimants have died, they are still represented by their next of kin and families as well as other relatives.

Further, Enriquez asks, “I understood that the Hawaii class suit or the MDL-840 is a consolidated case of three groups who sued Marcos in the Hawaii Court in 1986.  The three groups were the SELDA group of 9,539; the group of 21 Filipino expatriates in the US led by Vic Clemente and Fluellen Ortigas and the group of three of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the parents of the former representing his disappeared brother, Francisco Sison and Jose Piopongco, whose radio station was ordered confiscated by then Pres. Marcos.  I understand that all three groups won the historic class action suit and therefore, all three must be included in any settlement agreement or recoveries to collect on judgment.  That is why it is not only 9,539 victims who must benefit from the recovery of Marcos’ wealth but the three groups who won in the landmark case.”

Atty. Robert Swift and his co-counsels must be able to explain this to the victims and to the public as well. SELDA informs the public that any recovery of Atty. Swift to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court pertains and will only benefit the claimants in the Hawaii case and not the entire list of martial law victims in the Philippines as covered by the recently-signed but unimplemented RA 10368 or Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. ###


“Empty celebration” as long as reparation for and recognition of Martial Law victims remain lip service

News Release
15 August 2013

SELDA on the grandiose preparation to commemorate Ninoy’s anniversary

“Empty celebration” as long as reparation for and recognition of Martial Law victims remain  lip service

Rights group SELDA said the upcoming activities commemorating the assasination of former Sen. Ninoy Aquino will remain as “empty celebrations” as long as the reparation and recognition for Martial Law victims remain as lip service and unimplemented by the Noynoy Aquino administration.

“We remember the death of Ninoy as one that might have triggered the final push to oust the dictator; but years before his assassination, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who were lesser known than Ninoy, have sacrificed their lives to fight against the tyrannical rule of the dictator.  Like Ninoy, they deserve to be recognized, their deeds made known to a nation grateful for its heroes.  August 21 is one of those times we can remember them together with Ninoy, yet after a long, hard, even lonely struggle, the law that was supposed to do this – the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Law, finally signed by President Noynoy Aquino on February 25, 2013, has not been implemented up till now,” SELDA chairpeson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.

The group described the non-formation of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board as stipulated in the law, as “mockery” to the victims who painstakingly demanded reparation and recognition for decades now.

“Now that another commemoration of Ninoy’s assasination is to be observed again we can only feel insulted at how the Aquino government will throw out festivities once more. This, while the thousands of heroes of Martial Law are painfully waiting for the formation of the claims board, the first and most basic step in the implementation of the law,” Enriquez said.

The Claims Board, the primary body that will evaluate and recognize the victims of the Marcos dictatorship is yet to be formed after Pres. Aquino signed RA 10368 on the occasion of the 27th People Power Anniversary, February 25 this year.

Martial Law victims will submit another letter to Pres. Aquino on August 21, demanding for the law’s implementation. A protest action will also be held at the foot of Mendiola to be participated in by hundreds of Martial Law victims from Manila and nearby provinces.

“Malacañang has a lot of explaining to do, not only to the victims but to the general public, why there is so much delay in the formation of the claims board. Moreover, we are questioning the apparent effort to exclude SELDA, the organization which led the historic filing of the class suit  against the Marcoses, for the plunder and rights violations against the people,” Enriquez pointed out.

 

Include all Hawaii class suit members

Meanwhile, SELDA welcomed the new settlement agreement involving an artwork “owned” by Imelda Marcos.

The group said, however, that the new agreement should include all the original 9,539 victims who were part of the class suit in Hawaii. It can be remembered that in the $10 million Swift-Campos settlement agreement, only 7,526 out of the 9,539 claimant-victims were given their share from the settlement.

“The more than 2,000 victims who were denied of compensation in the first settlement is equivalent to a blatant disenfranchisement and non-recognition. Delisting them for the second time is unforgivable,” Enriquez said.

Nevertheless, Enriquez said recognition to the victims as soon as the law is implemented, is important and valuable. “No amount of money is equivalent to the recognition that shall etch the role played by the Martial Law heroes in our nation’s history,” Enriquez concluded.  ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

STATEMENT of SELDA on one injured SELDA leader at yesterday’s SONA protests

Rodolfo 'Ka Rody' del Rosario: SELDA senior citizen member 77-year-old Rodolfo del Rosario suffered head injuries when the PNP units tried to disperse the protesters. He is one of many injured, including Ka Tonying Flores, also a senior citizen, member of KMP and Anakpawis. | Photo by Ilang-ilang Quijano

Rodolfo ‘Ka Rody’ del Rosario: SELDA senior citizen member 77-year-old Rodolfo del Rosario suffered head injuries when the PNP units tried to disperse the protesters. He is one of many injured, including Ka Tonying Flores, also a senior citizen, member of KMP and Anakpawis. | Photo by Ilang-ilang Quijano

 
Press Statement
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



	

SELDA appreciates the new effort of the Swiss government

24 May 2013

With elections over, SELDA STRONGLY URGES the Noynoy Aquino government to implement RA 10368 immediately as
SELDA appreciates the new effort of the Swiss government

SELDA appreciates the new effort of the Swiss government of working on a new law which intends to simplify the process of freezing and unblocking assets of former autocratic governments which includes the former Marcos regime, stashed in Swiss bank accounts.

In September 2012, SELDA Chairperson Marie Enriquez, has brought to the attention of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council as well as the Human Rights Committee in October both in Geneva, the status of the pending bill (at that time) to indemnify the martial law human rights violations victims and urged the said bodies to remind the Philippine government of its obligation to compensate the martial law victims. In her oral intervention at the September 2012 Human Rights Council session during the adoption of the Philippine UPR report, she “particularly took note of Switzerland’s UPR recommendation to compensate the victims of martial law” especially since the Swiss government has already transferred the US$680M Marcos Swiss deposits in favor of the Philippine government in 1997 yet.

“While a new initiative to swiftly send back to originating countries the ill-gotten wealth of dictators is being done by the Swiss government, the Noynoy Aquino government is not moving on the implementation of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recogniton Act or RA 10368. Two and a half months have passed since the President has boastfully signed the measure, but the formation of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board has not been acted upon by the Noynoy Aquino administration that many of the victims are awaiting as the formation signals the implementation of the law,” Roneo Clamor, SELDA National Coordinator said.

“We have already waited long enough. We can’t afford this part of justice to be delayed and denied again! We hope that this administration will stop using the law as a means to bloat his popularity and instead immediately implement RA 10368,”Clamor concluded.


SELDA raises concern on the non-implementation of the law on the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 for martial law victims

Press Release
17 May 2013

Two and a half months after the passage of the ML Victims Reparation and Recognition Act (RA 10368)
SELDA raises concern on the non-implementation of the law on the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 for martial law victims

The rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) raised concerns on 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. The formation of the said Board signals the implementation of the said law which the victims have fought for so long.

“It has been two and half months since Pres. Aquino signed the bill into law. Within these months, SELDA learned that several martial law victims have died due to their illnesses without having seen the implementation of the said law.“Again, we reiterate what is taking the government so long to implement the law?” SELDA national coordinator Roneo Clamor asked.

Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 or RA 10368 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. The President will appoint the members of the Claims Board

As one of the five organizations that may nominate members of the Claims Board, 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, for prospective members of the Board. 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.”

Up to the present, SELDA is kept in the dark about the Board’s formation that many of the victims are awaiting. 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 go down the drain.” Clamor stressed.

SELDA is the organization that initiated the class action suit against former dictator Marcos. ###

Reference:
Roneo “Jigs” S. Clamor, National Coordinator
09175965859


Video

SELDA speaks on PCGG’s plan to hold exhibit of Imelda Marcos jewelry collection

SELDA’s National Coordinator Jigs Clamor speaks on PCGG’s plan to exhibit Imelda Marcos jewelry collection.


SELDA to Aquino govt: Whatever happened to the Board to process claims of martial law victims?

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. ###


SELDA submits nominees to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board; vows to see to it that R.A. 10368 will be implemented for the interests of the victims

Press Statement
March 14, 2013

SELDA or the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, the organization that initiated the class action suit against former dictator Marcos, sent its list of nominees to the Office of the President on March 12, 2013, for possible inclusion to the Human
Rights Victims Claims Board that will evaluate and process the claims of the human rights violations victims who will file their claim under RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

According to the law, SELDA is one of the five human rights organizations, although not limited to the five named organizations,
that “may submit nominations”  for membership in the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that will evaluate and process the application for claims of the martial law victims under the law.  SELDA secretary general Angie Ipong asserts, “We are very honored and proud  that our nominees possess the qualifications of the members of the Claims Board spelled out in the law; thus, 1) must be of known probity, competence and integrity; 2) 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; 3) must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy. There is also a provision that stipulates that at least three (3) of the nine (9)  must be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least (10) years.”

SELDA’s nominees for the Human Rights Victims Claims Board are the following:

1.      Ms. Amaryllis “Marie” Hilao-Enriquez – Marie, Chairperson of both SELDA  and Karapatan, is a survivor of martial law. From her student days at the University of the Philippines up to the present, she has remained a staunch human rights defender. Marie, as a prominent leader of SELDA, led the organization of former political prisoners in the filing and proceedings of the class action suit against the former dictator Marcos in the US Federal Court in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the Hawaii class suit. She likewise led the victims and their kin in the active lobby work for the enactment into law of the compensation bill that would indemnify and recognize the victims of martial law.   She is a tireless human rights worker in engaging the various mechanisms of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

2.      Mr. Bonifacio P. Ilagan – Boni, a multi-awarded writer, was twice arrested (1974 and 1994), tortured, and imprisoned. Boni’s political activism is expressed, among others, through his writings. He is currently the Vice Chairperson of SELDA, one of the mandated organizations under RA  10368 to submit nominations for the Human Rights Claims Board.

3.      Former Representative Liza L. Maza – As a member of the House of Representatives for nine years, Liza introduced and advocated for the legislation of a law recognizing and indemnifying victims of Martial Law. Ms. Maza, together with representatives Satur Ocampo and the late Crispin Beltran, filed the bill for victims of martial law, with due consultations with the victims, their relatives and lawyers.

4.      Prof. Judy Taguiwalo – Judy teaches at the University of thePhilippines. She heads the Department of Women and Development Studies of the College of Social Work and Community Development.  She was a member of the UP Board of Regents from 2009-2010.  She is the recipient of an outstanding alumna award from the UP Alumni Association.   She was detained twice, in 1973 and in 1984, where she gave birth inside prison.  She is a board member of SELDA.

5.      Dr. Edelina P. De la Paz – Dr. Delen de la Paz is Associate Professor in the Dept. of Family Medicine at the UP College of Medicine.  She is also the Vice Chief of the Social Medicine Unit at the same university. Dr. Delen de la Paz has been involved in various health and human rights related institutions and non-government organizations.  She is a respected alumna of the UP College of  Medicine.

6.      Atty. Romeo D. Candazo – a former political detainee, Atty.Ome Candazo is one of the founding members of SELDA in 1985.  He is also a public servant having occupied various executive and legislative positions in the government;  he served as a representative of the City of Marikina.  He is a journalist, an educator and lecturer at the UP, Ateneo and Maryknoll College.  But, first and foremost, Atty. Candazo is a human rights lawyer.

7.      Atty. Kit S. Enriquez – Atty. Kit is the President of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Cebu Chapter and a member of the Board of Directors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu from 2005-2011.  Atty. Kit was arrested twice during martial law (1972 and 1975) and was heavily tortured by the military.

8.      Atty. Dominador A. Lagare, Sr.  –  hails from General Santos in Mindanao and has been a practicing lawyer since 1973.  He was appointed OIC Mayor of General Santos during President Cory Aquino’s time.  He has also served General Santos as city councilor for four terms.  Atty. Lagare has been doing pro bono work for victims of human rights violations in the General Santos and Saranggani provinces.  He teaches labor laws and negotiable instruments at the Mindanao State University.

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,”  SELDA secretary general Angie Ipong concluded.  She also said that “SELDA’s nominees have been the vocal as well as silent workers behind the campaign for justice for martial law vicitms, components of which are the recognition of the struggle of the vicitims against the dictatorship and the reparation for the sufferings the victims experienced.  These are finally realized under the law.  We, at SELDA,  vow to see to the law’s implementation. ###

Reference: Eliza Tita Lubi, SELDA board member, 434-2837