January 23, 2013
3rd bicam hearing on Marcos victims compensation today
Martial Law victims urge lawmakers to stand by “conclusive presumption”
Hundreds of Martial Law victims from Central Luzon and Manila gathered at the Senate grounds today while the bicameral conference committee deliberates the Marcos victims’ compensation bill for the third time.
“We hope that they finish discussing the bill today,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, “we also urge them to stand by with provisions that recognize all legitimate victims, including the ‘conclusive presumption’ provision of the House version of the bill.”
The ‘conclusive presumption’ provision recognizes that the 9,539 victims, including the 24 direct action plaintiffs who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses in 1986 are legitimate HRV victims that must be automatically considered as such under the proposed Philippine law. “They have gone through the tedious process of proving that they are victims under a competent court and must not be made to go through a grueling process again of relating their sufferings under the law; they have done so in the Hawaii court already. Enriquez added that the ‘conclusive presumption’ provision shall also encourage other victims who were not part of the class suit to come forward.
Fears that fake claimants may take the place of genuine victims should not be the case, according the group, because the bill has a number of mechanisms to prove this. One of the safeguards would be to involve the organizations of victims and other organizations that documented and assisted the victims in their struggle for justice. These are SELDA, FIND, TFD and some lawyer organizations that helped in the legal cases of the victims.
SELDA strongly believes that a final version of the proposed law will be hammered out by the BiCam in this, hopefully, last meeting as the bill has been promised by the President to be a priority bill of his administration and also by the Speaker of the House, Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte. President Aquino even promised the president of Switzerland that a law on the victims’ indemnification is forthcoming. Members of the BiCam therefore are urged by the victims to enact the law that embodies their aspirations and interests as a modicum part of justice they long deserve. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer
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.
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
Nov7:CLASS MEMBERS, ORIGINAL PLAINTIFFS IN CASE VS MARCOS TO COUNSEL SWIFT: CONSULT US ON THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
NEWS RELEASE – 7 November 2010
The daughter of one of the original named plaintiffs in the historic class suit versus former President Ferdinand Marcos and class members among the 9,539 plaintiffs in the said class suit today raised questions on the proposed settlement agreement negotiated by counsel Robert Swift on the Marcos ill-gotten wealth which are in the name of Jose Y. Campos or the corporations owned or controlled by Campos.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, whose parents are lead plaintiffs in the class suit and is the current chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) as well as the human rights alliance KARAPATAN, said class members were able to know of the said settlement agreement only during the last week of September this year upon receiving the class notices.
SELDA, an organization of former political prisoners since Martial Law and established in 1984, led the Marcos victims in filing the class action suit against former Pres. Marcos for crimes against humanity in April 1986, two months after the EDSA People Power I. In September 1992, the US Federal District Court of Hawaii decided in favor of the 9,539 Filipino victims and ordered the Marcoses to pay the victims almost $2B for damages. In 1997, the Swiss Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the then US$540 million Marcos ill-gotten Swiss deposits to an escrow account of the Philippine National Bank, in favor of the Philippine Government.
“As in the previous agreements which our class counsel tried to enter into, we have requested for Atty. Swift to consult the named plaintiffs and class members on this recent settlement agreement, yet he refuses to do so. In the interest of transparency and in accordance with his duty, he should duly consult the class members on the contents and issues of the settlement,” Hilao-Enriquez said. She is among the four Hilao siblings who were arrested, tortured and detained during Martial Law, while one of them, Liliosa, was raped and murdered.
“While we welcome his efforts to supposedly collect money for the compensation of Marcos’ victims during martial law, we would like to remind Atty. Swift to always consult the victims every step of the way of such agreements,” Hilao-Enriquez said. “In order for class members to make informed and intelligent decisions, they must not be kept in the dark about the details of such negotiations so that it is not only left to the counsel to make unilateral decisions as such would have ramifications to a large number of class members,” Hilao-Enriquez added.
In the class notice sent to and received by some class members, it was stated that “Not all Class Members are eligible to receive payment. The Hawaii Federal Court required Class Members in both 1993 and 1999 to submit Claim Forms. Only those Class Members who submitted complete Claim Forms in each of those years will be eligible to receive payment. It is too late to submit or supplement a Claim Form.” Such decisions must be explained to the class members especially on the question of who were delisted and the reasons for such.”
“We would also like to know how the alleged true value of the real estate properties of the Camposes was determined in this new agreement and was valued at US$78 million. With this, is it not in the interest of the class members to proceed with the litigation instead of the $10 million settlement? It is important to know if class members have thoroughly studied the agreement, with all our questions answered and if we are amenable to the said settlement. This is not just about money, it is one of the ways of realizing justice as victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship,” Hilao-Enriquez pursued.
SELDA reiterated its call for Atty. Swift to conduct a consultation with the plaintiffs and class members and answer the questions posed before him. ###