The Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), a group formed by Martial Law victims that led the filing of the historic class action suit against former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii, today reiterated its position on the issues being debated upon at the bicameral conference committee on the Marcos victims compensation bill.
Marie Hilao Enriquez, SELDA chairperson and daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the Hawaii case, enjoined members of the bicameral conference committee “to adopt provisions which are acceptable to the victims and their relatives, instead of undermining their arduous and persevering efforts for justice and indemnification.”
“For one, we are deeply disappointed with the utter disregard shown by Sen. Joker Arroyo and Rep. Walden Bello when they dismissed the efforts of the 9,539 victims who filed the class action suit in Hawaii by pursuing a provision on disputable presumption. Such 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. 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,” Enriquez opined.
SELDA agrees with the Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, himself a victim and among the class members in the Hawaii suit, in his position asserting for conclusive presumption, as this is in fact an acknowledgement of the State of the judgment of the US courts, which found Marcos and his cronies guilty for the human rights violations under Martial Law. “To run counter to this position is tantamount to opening a Pandora’s box for the Marcoses to evade the US courts’ judgment,” Enriquez said.
The human rights organization added that this is not to discriminate on other victims who failed to file and join in the class action suit. “We wish to remind our legislators and the public that the reason we are pushing for a law to indemnify martial law victims, is to finally enforce the Historic Hawaii Class Suit judgement which we won in 1992.” Enriquez declared “The Philippine government required that a law must be made to indemnify martial law victims from the ill-gotten money the Swiss government returned to them in 2003. They should be made a priority.”
Moreover, SELDA reiterated that the bicameral committee members should recognize human rights violations against all Martial Law victims, instead of discriminating against those who opted to take up arms to defend themselves and many others from further human rights violations
inflicted by the dictator.
“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 exercise. Ang mga nagmartsa ba at pinagtanggol ang sarili sa mga miyembro ng Philippine Constabulary, at yung mga sumali sa New People’s Army ay walang mga karapatan? All those whose rights were violated should be rendered justice,” Enriquez said.
Finally the group reiterated its position to be included in the Human Rights Claim Board: “When Selda filed the now historic class suit vs, Marcos in 1986, we took on the research, interview and gathered documents that were brought to the Hawaii Courts. Many victims became members of Selda and we continue to have chapters in various parts of the country. The help of members in identifying and verifying victims would be valuable in the process once the law is enacted and implemented.” Enriquez ended. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez 09175616800
Letter to the Editor
Forty years since the country was put under Martial Law and two years into office of the Aquino administration, Martial Law victims remain at a loss on what is keeping Pres. Aquino from enacting the bill to indemnify and bring justice to the victims of Martial Law.
We have lobbied to our legislators, even protested at the steps of the House of Representatives and the Senate demanding that the bill to indemnify victims of Martial Law be finally enacted into law. The Lower House passed its version of the indemnification bill, House Bill 5990, on March 21. Unfortunately, the Senate’s version, Senate Bill 2615, is still at the Committee on Justice and Human Rights level.
We would like to remind the Aquino administration that the Swiss government has already transferred the Marcos ill-gotten wealth in favor of the Philippine government because the victims had the courage to file charges against the former dictator in Hawaii. Had it not been for the efforts of the martial law victims themselves, the Marcos loot deposited in the Swiss banks would not have been recovered. The fund transfer had been done by the Swiss Government over a decade ago with stipulations that martial law victims be considered in its appropriations.
Victims are not even asking for the full amount. We only asked for one-thirds of the amount knowing fully well that the rest of the Filipino people must also benefit from the returned fund.
We even expressed fears before that the previous Arroyo administration may have dipped its hands into the fund for her election campaign, but the victims were assured that funds for indemnification are supposedly preserved in a trust fund. What is the reason then for Aquino’s foot-dragging?
On June 14 and15, both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) agreed to continue meaningful discussions to pave the way for the resumption of the peace negotiations. Indemnification of victims of the Marcos dictatorship will be one of the concerns to be discussed.
Likewise, the issue of compensation of Martial Law victims was mentioned under item number 92 of the Philippine Report to the Universal Periodic Review on May 28 at the United Nations, which included “compensation of the Martial Law victims” as one its commitments in upholding human rights.
With these declarations, we hold the Philippine Government over its promise to act on the indemnification of Martial Law Victims NOW. The waiting has been too long.
Different regimes have ignored our demands. We have expected a swifter action from the son of a former victim of the Marcos Dictatorship. Numerous pronouncements have been made, but Pres. Aquino seems to be going the way of his predecessors.
More than 10,000 victims of Martial Law are waiting for a more positive action from this government. We are not only asking Pres. Aquino to give us what is rightfully ours. We are demanding him to do his job.
Until then, we will continue to act and overcome all limitations imposed on us in our desire to achieve justice.
Reference: Angelina B. Ipong Secretary General 09499587373