Posts tagged “Erin Tañada

Aquino signs rights compensation law

Jamie Elona and Agence France-Presse | Inquirer.net
February 25, 2013

MANILA, Philippines –President Benigno Aquino III on Monday signed a landmark law, compensating human rights victims of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless “People Power” revolution ended his reign.

“Nilagdaan natin ang Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013 bilang pagkilala sa pagdurusang dinaanan ng napakarami noong Batas Militar.” Aquino said in his speech during the country’s celebration of the 27th People Power Revolution.

”Hindi natatapos sa paggunita ang ating krusada para sa katarungan,” Aquino said.

Aquino thanked Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada and Senator Serge Osmena who authored the bill, as well as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Ten billion pesos ($244 million) will be distributed to potentially thousands of people who were tortured, raped or detained, as well as relatives of those who were killed, by Marcos’s security forces during his 20-year rule.

Aquino said the law was part of his government’s efforts to “right the wrongs of the past”.

“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” he said.

Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the country’s independent rights commission, said the law would finally allow all his victims to feel a sense of justice.

“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales told AFP.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairwoman of Selda, a group which represents Marcos rights victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.

“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone it will not result to much,” Hilao-Enriquez said.

Hilao-Enriquez’s group represents about 10,000 documented victims but she said there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in the remote south of the country.

Under the law, a “compensation board” will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months, according to Rosales.

The compensation money will come from about $600 million the government has recovered from Swiss bank accounts that Marcos secretly maintained while he was in power.

The government has accused Marcos and his relatives of plundering up to $10 billion and has so far recovered about $4 billion.

Aquino’s mother Corazon led the “People Power” revolution that saw millions of people take to the streets and force US-government backed Marcos from power. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.

Sister Cres Lucero, 70, a human rights supporter, hailed the enactment of the bill into law.

“Isang tagumpay ito para sa karapatang pangtao. Kasi dito talagang pinirmahan ng Pangulo natin ang Compensation Act para sa mga biktima ng martial law,” Cres said.

She underscored the role of justice in the pursuit of freedom.


Statement of SELDA on the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

Press Release
February 25, 2013

Twenty seven long years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, a law confirming the atrocities and human rights violations under martial law is finally signed into law.  The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, welcomes the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

This is another victory of the Martial Law victims in their continuing struggle for justice. Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations. They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.

The struggle was protracted.  The process was agonizing and tedious. Scores of members of the Philippine Congress, in cahoots with the Marcoses and the military who vehemently opposed the passage of the law, tried to block its passing.  In some instances, they deliberately delayed the process or watered down the crafted bill.

Now, with a regime posturing as a “champion of human rights” and trying to score credits for its passage, the law was passed but mainly due to the persistent efforts of the martial law victims themselves.  Tirelessly working hand-in-hand with progressive party-lists and likeminded legislators, the bill was finalized and ratified.  Generally, the law is acceptable to the victims and survivors of martial law.

We take this opportunity to commend and express our gratitude to Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño, who stood with us since the filing of the bill, pursuing the most pro-victim provisions, and consistently pushing, on behalf of the victims, the legislature to finally approve the bill. We also appreciate the support of Senators Chiz Escudero and TG Guingona, and Reps. Edcel Lagman and Erin Tañada.

Here and abroad, we were supported by various peace, justice and human rights advocates in the campaign for the bill’s passage. We extend our solidarity and gratefulness to solidarity groups in the United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland who warmly supported and mobilized in the campaign for the passage of the law, as well as in helping the victims every step of the way. We also thank the members of Parliament of Switzerland as well as its mission in Geneva for lending an ear to the victims’ pleas every time we lobby for their support. Most of all, we commend and deeply thank the members of the peace panel and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who tirelessly asserted, in the process of all peace negotiations with the Philippine government, that the victims of Martial Law should attain justice.

It is with pain and regret for us to witness the passage of this law at a time when many of our fellow victims and colleagues, who took part in the struggle against martial rule, have gone ahead of us. Also, there are still attempts to distort, sometimes even completely erase in the memory of our people, the dark days of the dictatorship. There are those among the architects of martial law who remain scot-free and unpunished. The most notorious culprits have been allowed to regain their political power and influence.

Under the law, the Philippine government is obliged to recognize and give reparation to the victims of human rights violations during martial law. While all the sacrifices and heroism of the Filipino people during martial law is priceless, we see these both as an affirmation to the people who struggle for justice, and as a warning to those who will continue to impose fascism and terror upon the Filipino people.

We dedicate this small victory to all martial law martyrs and heroes who have gone before us. We will continue to honor them, as we ensure that this law shall be implemented to the best interest of the victims and the Filipino people who survived martial law.

We may be jubilant, but we continue to watch with vigilance. To fully ensure that the law will serve the rightful victims and claimants, we will try to make sure that the HRV Victims Claims Board shall be composed of individuals who, in one way or another, know and can feel with the victims and have been involved in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

We take cognizance that SELDA is part of the recommending entities to the Claims Board. We challenge the administration to appoint nominees of SELDA despite some government officials’ bias given SELDA’s political stands.

Also, it should be ensured that those who are included in the master list of the 9,539 victims and those who will consequently file their claims are those who were genuinely part of the struggle against martial law. We should guard against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams which will deprive the victims of just indemnification.

We should also take the opportunity to make the younger generation learn, understand and take on the challenge of having the same daring, vigilance, militancy and commitment to justice and human rights.

It has been 40 years after martial law but human rights violations continue to be committed, and with impunity. There has not been much change except for the worse under the dispensations that succeeded the U.S.-Marcos regime. The Marcos laws and executive orders were retained by the succeeding administrations.  The militarist mindset and fascist machinery remain intact especially with the continuous implementation of the US-backed counter-insurgency programs

As long as human rights violations continue, with or without martial law, we stand with the people for justice, democracy and human rights. NEVER AGAIN will we allow the enemies of the people to perpetuate the same injustices, oppression and exploitation against the majority of the Filipino people.  ###

References:
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-561-6800

SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan proudly represented the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law, at the 27th People Power Anniversary gathering at EDSA. In a speech delivered at People Power Monument, Ilagan said that the law is meaningful – beyond the monetary compensation, it is a step in keeping the memory etched in our nation’s history. Now known as the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 is a victory and a tribute for the people who fought the dictatorship. It is a product of a decade-long struggle of the victims, a testimony of the struggle in society, and the people’s historic task to end the prevailing culture of impunity.

Justice, freedom and democracy are not served on a silver platter – these are fought for. Hear the victims-heroes of Martial Law – NEVER AGAIN!

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