The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) today welcomes with guarded enthusiasm, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s recent statements at the ASEM meeting in Laos to compensate victims of martial law.
“We have waited for this far too long now and President Noynoy Aquino has in fact mentioned this as one of his priority bills in last year’s SONA, but until now, this is yet to be realized,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of Selda. “We are hopeful that with this current pronouncement, the bill to compensate the victims will finally be enacted into a law.”
The human rights group clarified that not all of the $680 million Marcos Swiss deposit will go to the victims and that only one-third will be used for the compensation; and this is the equivalent of P10B. “We recognize that the money is for the Filipinos and that it must be utilized for land reform. We only asked for a small portion of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth for compensation,” Enriquez stated.
SELDA only wishes that the victims will no longer be made to wait more than they have already done. Furthermore, the human rights group urged
the Senate to pass a bill that would reflect the voice of the victims and remove provisions inimical to the interests of the victims.
SELDA has been lobbying for the Senate to revise and pass SB 2615. The Committee on Justice and Human Rights said it is still awaiting the comments of Senator Joker Arroyo on the bill before they submit it for plenary debates at the Senate. The House version was passed on March 21, 2012.
SELDA Chairperson, Marie Enriquez, brought the bill’s status to the attention of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in September as well as the Human Rights Committee in October both in Geneva, urging the said bodies to remind the Philippine government of its commitment to compensate the martial law victims. In her oral intervention at the September Human Rights Council session at the adoption of the Philippine UPR report, Enriquez “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.
SELDA asserts that compensation to human rights violations victims like the martial law victims is a component of justice that is enshrined in the UN instruments as well as in the Philippine Constitution. Thus, the victims’ demand for indemnification are just and the portion of the funds that Marcos stashed in Swiss banks and have been transferred by the Swiss government rightfully belong to them.
SELDA will be watching and will continue to press for the government to deliver on its promise. ###
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson, SELDA
On the Army chief’s statement that Palparan is the last of his kind
“Lt. Gen. Bautista is lying” – SELDA
The recent statement made by Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the chief of the Philippine Army drew ire from members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA).
“Lt. Gen. Bautista is lying. There are clones of Palparan in the AFP because it breeds the likes of Palparan. It’s not about dishing out phrases like ‘respect for human rights’. It’s about actual rights violations being committed by the AFP and its paramilitary forces,” said Angie Ipong, Selda Secretary General.
Selda said that illegal arrest, torture and other grave forms of human rights violations continue under the Aquino government Oplan Bayanihan. Activists and even civilians continue to become victims of trumped-up charges as the military tries to beat its deadline to end the “insurgency”.
The recent arrest of Rolly Panesa on October 5 is a proof that people are arrested arbitrarily, and on mere suspicion that he is an ‘enemy of the state’ and based on trumped up charges, in violation of his rights.
Panesa, a security guard, was illegally arrested by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police. He was severely tortured because the military misidentified him for a certain “Benjamin Mendoza,” supposedly the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Southern Luzon, with a reward of PhP 5.6 million.
Marites Chioco, Panesa’s live-in partner was also abducted, with her daughter and son-in-law. Chioco was forced to admit that she is ‘Ka Luisa’ whom the military claimed as “Mendoza’s” wife. It was Chioco who saw Panesa blindfolded while his cheeks were bruised, his mouth was swollen and lower jaw pushed in. Panesa’s right ear was also bleeding because of heavy beatings. Rolly Panesa is currently detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail in Taguig City for rebellion and frustrated murder.
What happened to Panesa is no different from what Raymond Manalo went through when he was abducted, tortured and detained in 2006 by soldiers under Palparan’s command. “Palparan may be retired but Panesa’s case certainly shows there are other Palparan’s in the AFP,” added Ipong.
Aside from Panesa, Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) continues to be tortured as he remains detained in isolation at Fort Bonifacio. Other political prisoners like Ramon Patriarca, Allan Jazmines, also a NDFP consultant and Ericson Acosta, have been charged with trumped-up offenses and are among the 123 political prisoners under the Aquino government. There are currently 401 political prisoners in the country.
“The AFP has a long tradition of being a mercenary, a protector of the interests of the elite, and against the poor. For as long as the AFP exists to protect the interests of the landlord and the big business the likes of Palparan will continue to exist,” Ipong concluded. ###
Reference: Angie Ipong, Secretary General (09499587373)
After passage of Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, martial law victims call for passage of Marcos Victims’ Compensation BillPress Statement 22 October 2012
We welcome the approval of the anti-enforced disappearance bill by a bi-cameral session of the Senate and House of Representatives. It is high time that a law criminalizing the practice of enforced disappearance be enforced.
Martial law activist Rizalina Ilagan, a student leader from the University of the Philippines – Los Baños, was disappeared in 1977, together with nine other students and professors from the same University. They were later called the Southern Tagalog 10. Three were surfaced dead, while the rest were never found.
Victims of the dictatorship were vindicated when they won the now historic class suit in 1992 against Ferdinand Marcos. The Hawaii Appellate Court found Marcos guilty of human rights violations against 9,539 victims, among them some 1,000 victims of enforced disappearance. Yet, the military perpetrators, least of all Marcos, was not punished for their crimes. Once enacted into law, the anti-enforced disappearance bill will allow us to hold responsible the perpetrators of enforced disappearance of activists.
The Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill provides no prescription period for the crime, unless the victim has surfaced. The perpetrators of involuntary disappearance could be prosecuted no matter how much time has passed since the incident. Moreover, the bill recognizes command responsibility, which means a superior officer would also be culpable for the actions of his subordinates.
However, we are still struggling to claim justice with yet another bill pending in the Senate. The Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill still has to be finalized by the Senate. Just like the Anti-Enforced Disappearance, this is long overdue
Selda has consistently urged the Aquino government to expedite the compensation bill of martial law victims. President Aquino should not waste any more time in enacting this bill into law. Its implementation, together with the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, will add to our efforts at gaining justice for our loved ones, especially those who were disappeared during martial law. ###
Reference: Bonifacio Ilagan (09176291241) Vice Chairperson SELDA