Posts tagged “Ferdinand Marcos

SC asked: Void Sarmiento appointment

Christine O. Avendaño | Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 26, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—As the Aquino administration celebrated the 28th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship, victims of martial law went to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to stop a retired police director from chairing the board that would determine compensation for victims of the Marcos regime.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo was among those who filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction as well as an application for a temporary restraining order against Lina Sarmiento, whom President Aquino named chair of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

Named respondents in the petition were Aquino, who was accused of committing grave abuse of discretion when he appointed Sarmiento, former chief of the Philippine National Police Community Relations Group under the government’s counterinsurgency program and head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office (HRAO) before her new appointment.

Ocampo and five other petitioners told the high court that they were aghast that Aquino had appointed a police general to head the claims board.

They said Sarmiento’s appointment was “illegal” and should be declared void as she failed to meet the minimum qualifications for a board member set by Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

In their petition, they said Sarmiento did not meet the requirements that she “must be of known probity, competence and integrity (Section 8a); must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Marcos (8b); and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.”

The petitioners said the President “may argue that respondent Sarmiento has a track record as a member and officer of the PNP but it cannot be denied that she lacks the mandated qualifications set forth under the law, and the institution she represents lacks the credibility and integrity to deliver justice to human rights victims.”

The petitioners also said that when Sarmiento was HRAO chief, she “became part of the machinery, which ‘attempted to deodorize the stench of the internationally condemned cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.’”

One case Sarmiento handled was about farmer Renante Romagus who survived abduction and torture. He was stabbed and left for dead in December 2007 in Compostela Valley province, Ocampo et al. said.

They said Sarmiento dismissed calls for investigations of Romagus’ case “as she lamely but callously blamed instead the victims’ inability to identify his perpetrators.”

They also said Sarmiento was a member of Task Force Usig, created by the Arroyo administration which investigated extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances but which they pointed out had failed to do its job.

The petitioners noted that there was nothing on public record to show that Sarmiento was involved in any effort against atrocities during the Marcos dictatorship.

“If at all, she was a silent, passive, if not acquiescent cog in the security apparatus of the repressive dictatorship,” they said.

Ocampo et al. said their petition was not a question of not only whether Sarmiento was qualified under the law to assume such post but also of whether the President’s act of approving her appointment “contravenes the very essence of the law he is supposed to implement.”

And they said the answer to both questions was “in the negative.”

“Therefore, the illegal and unjustifiable appointment by no less than respondent Aquino, the very person who signed the law and a son of supposed icons of Philippine democracy, of a former police general representative of or coming from an institution that has perpetrated gross human rights violations during the Marcos regime—and even up to the present—negates and renders nugatory the very purpose for which the law was enacted,” they said.

The petitioners said the high court should declare Sarmiento’s appointment null and void because the President had committed grave abuse of discretion.

“By appointing a former police general to head the human rights board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence and concealed them with a veneer of impunity,” they said.

Aside from Ocampo, the other petitioners were Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Bayan chair Carolina Araullo, and Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi and Josephine Dongail—members of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto.


SC asked to stop appointment of new rights claims board head

Tetch Torres-Tupas | Inquirer.net
February 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — A group of human rights victims during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos asked the Supreme Court to stop the appointment of retired General Lina Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Claims Board.

In a petition filed Tuesday, they urged the high court to nullify Sarmiento’s appointment.

Petitioners represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers include former lawmaker Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares, Maria Carolina Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi, and Josephine Dongail. They were all arrested, detained and tortured during the Martial Law years.

They said President Benigno Aquino III gravely abused his discretion when he appointed Sarmiento who is not qualified to head the Human Rights Claims Board.

Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, the head of the board must have a “deep and thorough understanding of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the Marcos time.

Sarmiento was a former member of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police who were among those who allegedly committed human rights violations during Marcos time.

Then, she became chief of the PNP Community Relations Group under the counterinsurgency program of the government, a machinery which petitioners say “attempted to deodorize the stench of the internationally condemned cases of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.”

“The issue of whether respondent Sarmiento meets the exacting qualities [to head the board] is therefore put to serious question. This does not inspire, merit or command trust and confidence in the head of the Board,” petitioners said.


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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Opposition mounts vs appointment of police general to human rights claims board

Photo by Interaksyon.com

Ernie Reyes | InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition to the appointment of a retired police general to chair the body tasked to process claims of victims of human rights abuses by the Marcos dictatorship continued to mount with a women’s group calling it an “affront to Filipinos” and the victims.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Tanggol Bayi said that, “152 women were victims of extrajudicial killing, 31 women were disappeared, while 290 women were illegally arrested and detained” during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, when Lina Sarmiento headed the human rights office of the Philippine National Police.

Under the current administration, it added, the human rights group Karapatan has documented 18 women victims of extrajudicial killing, 3 cases of rape of girls, and 33 women political prisoners who were also victims of illegal arrests and fabricated charges.

Earlier, former Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, who defended human rights abuse victims during the dictatorship, also called Sarmiento’s appointment “illegal.”

Before he became a senator, Saguisag served as spokesman of former President Corazon Aquino, mother of the incumbent, following the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos.

“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,” filmmaker Kiri Dalena, Tanggol Bayi convenor, said in the statement.

Another Tanggol Bayi convenor, Cristina Palabay, accused President Benigno Aquino III of “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,” she said.

Tanggol Bayi also decried what it called Malacanang’s disregard for its women nominees to the claims board, who it said 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,” qualifications spelled out in the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The group had nominated former Gabriela Representative Liza Maza, one of the law’s main authors, and University of the Philippines Professor Judy Taguiwalo, a victim of the dictatorship and a women’s rights advocate.

It also supported the nomination of Karapatan chair Marie Hilao Enriquez, a veteran human rights activist and daughter of one of the plaintiffs in the class suit against the Marcoses that was the basis of the compensation law.


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

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.


Reparation Law ‘to Right Past Wrongs’

Catherine S. Valente Reporter | The Manila Times
February 25, 2013

President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday signed a law compensating human rights victims during the regime of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless People Power revolution ended his reign.

Under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, P10 billion ($244 million) will be distributed to thousands of people whom Marcos’ security forces tortured, raped or detained, as well as relatives of those who were killed, during his rule.

Speaking at a ceremony in Manila to mark the anniversary of the revolution that was led by his mother, President Aquino said that 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,” the President said.

Under the law, a compensation board will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months. Those victims will be from when Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to the end of his rule in 1986.

“Our crusade for justice does not stop with commemoration. That’s why we signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, as a recognition of the suffering the victims went through during martial law, and to show that generations may pass but our resolve to right the wrongs of the past will not weaken,” he said.

Moreover, the President said that Edsa should remind Filipinos that they should be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.

“I sometimes think that it seems we are fond of the cycle of falling down, standing up, as if we cannot accept that we can move forward and advance without again being wounded, without again being persecuted, without again being hurt. It is hard to admit: we are experts in rising up but it seems we lack advancement and progress,” he said.

“Now that we have risen, let us move forward; let us carry one another and focus our sights on the future; let us dust off our worries and move forward to the realization of our dreams,” Aquino added.

The President thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., as well as the bill’s authors—Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada 3rd of Quezon province and Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña 3rd—for their contributions in the enactment of the measure.

The government has accused Marcos and his relatives of plundering up to $10 billion and has so far recovered some $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 to step down from power. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.

Meanwhile, several human rights victims during the martial law era lauded the signing of the new law.

Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the Commission on Human Rights, said  that the law would finally allow all the 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 said.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairman of Selda, a group that represents Marcos rights victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said that 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,” said Enriquez, whose group represents about 10,000 documented victims.

She said that 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.
With a report from AFP


‘HR law to right wrongs of the past’

Delon Porcalla | The Philippine Star
February 25, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The only son of two of the most prominent victims of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime signed a landmark law yesterday, providing compensation for human rights victims of the dictatorship.

President Aquino, whose father Benigno was assassinated by state forces in 1983, signed Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The law will award P10 billion, sourced mainly from the Marcoses’ deposits in Swiss banks, to about 10,000 victims.

RA 10368 seeks to “right the wrongs of the past,” President Aquino said.

Compensation will be based on the extent of injuries. A point system of distributing the funds will be spelled out in greater detail in the implementing rules and regulations that will be released soon.

“The law itself provides a point system. There will be of course the board that will be determining the claimants, and based on that point system they will be able to determine how much a person will be entitled to,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

The signing of the law – exactly 27 years after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a bloodless military-backed popular uprising – is also considered an official recognition of the atrocities committed during the regime, largely by security forces.

Marcos and his relatives and cronies are accused of plundering up to $10 billion. So far, the government has recovered about $4 billion.

“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,” Aquino said.

Among the factors to be considered in determining individual compensation are period of detention, degree of torture or sexual abuse, among others.

“There is a determination of award. There is a point system and it shall range from one to 10 points,” Lacierda said.

“Victims who died or disappeared or are still missing shall be given 10 points, while those tortured and/or raped or sexually abused shall be entitled to six to nine points; victims who suffered detention shall be given three to five points; victims whose rights were violated shall be given one to two points.

“And there will be an IRR that will be drafted and perhaps put in finer detail how this computation of the point system shall be done,” Lacierda said.

The law also provides for the creation of the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission, whose task is to heighten the youth’s awareness – through education – of the excesses of the Marcos regime as well as the heroism of those who fought it.

Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista said RA 10368 “addresses not only past mistakes but endeavors to ensure that these mistakes never happen again.”

“The P10-billion fund which will be sourced from the Marcos Swiss bank accounts successfully repatriated back to the Philippines by the PCGG in 2003 is definitely being put to good use,” he said.

In a speech delivered at the People Power monument on EDSA in Quezon City, Aquino thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for shepherding the measure. He also lauded House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III – one of the main authors of the law – for patiently working for the approval of the bill.

“Now that the victims are being recognized for their sufferings, it is time to declare ‘never again’ to martial law. If we have tuwid na daan, we should also have tuwid na kasaysayan in order to prevent a wrong presentation of history,” Tañada said.

Tañada’s father and grandfather, Wigberto and Lorenzo Sr., were themselves victims of martial law.

Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the Human 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 said.

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

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chair of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, 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.

SELDA 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 Mindanao.

“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,” SELDA said in a statement. “They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.”

‘Trilogy’ completed

For some lawmakers who fought the Marcos dictatorship, the signing of RA 10368 completed the “trilogy” of landmark human rights laws in the country.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, in separate statements, hailed President Aquino’s signing of the law but called on Malacañang to make sure the new law is strictly implemented.

The two other landmark human rights laws are the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 or RA 9745 and the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 or RA 10353, Lagman said.

Lagman’s brother, human rights and labor lawyer Hermon Lagman, disappeared on May 11, 1977. His family never found him despite incessant efforts to locate him in military camps. The Albay lawmaker said they have not decided if they would accept compensation.

Colmenares said he considered the enactment of the compensation law a personal victory, citing his experience of torture at the hands of the military as well as his four-year detention as a 17-year old student leader.

“At last the long wait for the martial law victims is over. This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the state’s recognition of their suffering under martial law,” Colmenares said.

“Many years after the Hawaii court recognized us, our own government recognized us,” he said, referring to the ruling of the US court to grant compensation to nearly 10,000 victims of human rights violations during the regime of the late strongman Marcos.

“The overall message of this recognition is that martial law must never happen again, or is a call for vigilance – the people must not let it happen again,” he added.

Colmenares also said he would have given to his mother whatever compensation he would receive had she lived long enough to see the law passed and implemented.

“She did suffer a lot during my torture and four-year imprisonment, so I would have willingly given it to her, but she died last year. I guess I would have to give my share nalang to the SELDA,” he said.

He said his mother wanted to do repairs on their house in Bacolod City. He added that it might also be ethically questionable for him to accept compensation since lawmakers are not supposed to financially benefit from legislation enacted during their term.

Unlike Colmenares, another human rights victim turned lawmaker said he would be very happy to accept compensation.

“I was a detainee in Bicutan in 1978. Yes, I will accept. It is a moral victory on my part,” Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas told The STAR. Treñas belongs to the ruling Liberal Party. Colmenares said Bayan Muna colleague and The STAR columnist Satur Ocampo had been removed from the compensation list by lawyers of the Marcoses.

“We will insist that he be included in the list of human rights victims in recognition of his sacrifices during martial law,” he said.

Not forgotten

By compensating human rights victims, the government is officially recognizing their sacrifices, senators said yesterday.

“While it took all of 27 years for the state to finally recognize the atrocities it inflicted on Filipinos whose democratic rights were suppressed under Marcos, the compensation law seeks to give justice to victims of the dark days of oppression and hopefully give an assurance that it will not happen again,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

“As one of the co-authors of this law, I personally see this as a recognition of the heroism that was widespread during martial law: a heroism that rang across hills and blazed through the streets of this country,” Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said.

Even the late dictator’s son and namesake described the law as “reasonable” and “imbued with compassion.”

But Sen. Bongbong Marcos said the government should also find ways to compensate other human rights victims after the 1986 revolution.

“It is only when we remember the atrocities, the injustice, and the abuses that went on in our past that we, as a nation, can continue to fight against attempts to resurrect these evils. Our memory of martial law, kept alive and strong, will ensure that we will never have to suffer the same fate ever again,” Guingona added.

Sen. Loren Legarda said the people should continue to fight for human rights without trampling on the rights of others.

“We must support ways by which we can protect and uphold our democracy,” she said.

“We must protect freedom of speech. We should ensure honesty, transparency and accountability of government officials, thus we must have freedom of information,” Legarda stressed.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, for his part, said the government should sustain the “momentum of change” so that every Filipino can realize the full benefits of democracy.

He said the benefits of EDSA would only be fully realized if economic opportunities become acccessible to the majority of Filipinos.

For Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the signing of the landmark compensation law on the anniversary of the People Power Revolution of 1986 “serves as a reminder for us Filipinos to never take for granted the freedom that we now enjoy.”

Pangilinan said Filipinos born after the revolution must be constantly reminded of the excesses of the Marcos regime.

“It is our duty to remind this generation of what transpired. We must never allow this part of our history to be trivialized nor the facts twisted by those who seek to be cleansed of their transgressions against the Filipino people. Never again, indeed,” Pangilinan said. – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Christina Mendez, Rhodina Villanueva, Rainier Allan Ronda


SELDA urges Pres. Aquino to sign into law the martial law reparation bill

News Release
February  20, 2013

On the upcoming anniversary of the first Edsa People Power, the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) calls on Pres. Aquino to immediately sign into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Almost three weeks after having been ratified by both houses of congress, the said measure still awaits the president’s signature for its enactment into law.

According to SELDA, the victims have waited so long for this law and the pomposity and grandiose preparation that go with the President’s formal signing should not be a reason for its delay.

“We have already suffered and waited more than enough for the past 27 years. Its passage into law and the final recognition of the struggles and sacrifices of victims and survivors is substantially enough for us.  We strongly urge Aquino not to delay anymore its signing, and let the law now do justice for us,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda.

Though it sees nothing wrong that the bill is said to be signed on the anniversary of the first people power, SELDA expresses dismay that the eventual signing would be used by the Aquino administration to further portray itself as a “human rights champion” and to score points for the government during this election period.

“The law is a product of the numerous efforts of the victims to seek justice, and it should not be used to deodorize the human rights record of this regime brought about by the numerous killings and transgressions that are committed by this regime,” said Hilao-Enriquez. ###

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

Martial law victims to get P500k each: solon

David Dizon | ABS-CBNnews.com

Coming soon: Martial Law Memorial a la Holocaust

MANILA – Victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos will get an estimated P500,000 each with the passage of the Marcos Compensation Bill.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a member of the bicameral conference committee, said the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2012 is the result of years of work to properly indemnify victims of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.

“It is beyond compensation but reparation and recognition for the human rights victims during martial law. It is not a big sum of money now pero malaking tulong pa rin sa mga matatanda nang victims,” he told radio dzMM.

Under the law, those qualified to receive compensation are victims of human rights violations committed from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. Compensation will come from funds amounting to P10 billion transferred to the Bureau of Treasury through the order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997.

The new law states a Human Rights Claims Board will be created to determine people qualified to get compensation.

Colmenares said the board will create the internal rules and regulations that will detail the process of recognition, compensation and reparation.

He said groups such as SELDA and Task Force Detainees can nominate human rights advocates “with deep understanding of the human rights situation during martial law” to join the board.

Representatives from the National Historical Institute, the Commission on Human Rights, and the University of the Philippines Main Library could also join the board, he said.

“It is a combination of agencies with historical and human rights mandates,” he said.

 

2 years to distribute compensation

Colmenares said there will be 2 groups of claimants for compensation. The first group is composed of 9,539 victims in the Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses.

The new law states that the Hawaii complainants are presumed victims of martial law abuses and would no longer have to prove their claims for compensation.

The second group, Colmenares said, will include individuals not included in the Hawaii class action suit.

He said that once the board is set up, there will be an information campaign to allow possible claimants to apply within the 6-month period.

Claimants will also be screened by the board. A point system will be followed in determining the amount that each victim or their kin will receive, with those tortured or killed getting a higher compensation than those harassed or economically disadvantaged during martial law.

Colmenares said the board will then have 2 years to finish the process of compensation.

“Tinaningan na. Dapat in 2 years, they must get it in 2 years. We can actually give compensation to the Hawaii claimants in the first year. It is a maximum of 2 years,” he said.

 

Martial Law Memorial

The lawmaker said the law also establishes a Martial Law Memorial where the names of all victims of human rights violations will be enshrined.

“It was in the Senate version. In fact, ang narinig ko it will be equal to the Holocaust Musem. It will contain memorabilia, stories at kung ano pa mang bagay that will give us an idea on what happened during Martial Law. And, of course, the role of the victims, yung mga pangalan nila ilalagay duon sa memorial na yan,” he said.

Colmenares said he has already asked Education Secretary Armin Luistro about including the teaching of martial law in the school curriculum. He noted that in some textbooks, discussion about martial law is reduced to a single page and equates the period to land reform.

The lawmaker said the memorial and proper education will help the next generation understand the lessons of martial law.

“It brings back the experience of martial law and hopefully, the lessons will be inculcated
They need the real picture of what happened during martial law,” he said.

He also said he is disappointed that not one member of the Marcos family went to jail despite the crimes committed during martial law.

“Nagiging hungkag ang call na ‘Never again to martial law’ kasi parang walang lesson learned, walang accountability,” he said.

He noted that one good thing that came out after the 1986 EDSA Revolution is that the entire world recognizes Ferdinand Marcos as a dictator.

“Kami naman sa Bayan Muna, we will really work hard na hindi maulit ang apelyidong yan (Marcos) sa panguluhan,” he said.

 

Bongbong hands off

Meantime, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said his family already has nothing to do with granting reparations for victims of human rights human rights violations during the regime of his father.

A day after the Senate ratified a measure giving compensation to martial law victims, Marcos said the issue is only between human rights claimants and the government, which now possesses the money confiscated from his family.

“The judgments have been made against us and our position has been very clear. The government has confiscated the assets, so it’s up to the government to now dispose of them as they see fit,” he said.

Marcos added that from the very start, he was never involved in discussions on the bill.

“I just recused myself from the discussions because I cannot be seen ever to be objective about the subject,” he said.


Gov’t set to recognize victims of Marcos rule

Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 29, 2013

Almost four decades after he was arrested and tortured and his sister disappeared into a maze of Philippine police cells and military houses, playwright Bonifacio Ilagan is finally seeing his suffering officially recognized.

A writer for an underground communist newspaper, Ilagan and thousands like him were rounded up by security forces of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos  after he placed the Philippines under martial law in 1972. Detentions, beatings, harassment and killings of the regime’s opponents continued until Marcos was toppled in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Even though democracy was restored, it would take another 27 years for Congress to vote on a bill awarding compensation and recognition to martial law victims.

On Monday, the House of  Representatives and the Senate ratified the bill after the bicameral committee earlier in the day signed the final version of the bill following some last-minute polishing.

President Aquino is expected to sign the bill into law shortly, possibly before the anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos.

“More than the monetary compensation, the bill represents the only formal, written document that martial law violated the human rights of Filipinos and that there were courageous people who fought the dictatorship,” said a statement from Selda, an organization of former political prisoners.

Ilagan’s story is more of a rule than exception among leftist activists of his generation.

“The torture started in the house. We were beaten up, punched and kicked,” he said, recalling a police raid on his residence in April 1974 and the beginning of his two-year detention ordeal.

He said he vomited blood after being kicked in the thighs. The soles of his foot had been  burned by an iron, he added.

“The one episode in my torture that I cannot forget was when they ordered me to remove my pants and underwear and they inserted a piece of stick into my penis. ‘Oh my God,’ I said, this is one torture I could not bear,”’ the 61-year-old said in an interview.

He said that interrogators wanted him to decode documents and identify people in pictures that were seized from suspected communists.

Bonifacio Ilagan or ‘Boni’ at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani where Rizalina’s name was included on the long list of martyrs during the martial law

“Compared to others, mine was not the worst torture,” he said. “The others were electrocuted and injected with truth serum. … But the threats continued.”

Ilagan’s sister, Rizalina, disappeared in 1976 along with nine other activists, many of them students involved in anti-Marcos publications, he said.

One of the women arrested by the same government unit that he suspected was involved in his sister’s abduction had escaped to recount her rape and torture. Ilagan said he has no doubt that his sister went through the same abuses.

His parents died still hoping his sister would turn up alive, but the family has found no closure, Ilagan said.

No convictions

Despite cases filed by former political prisoners, “there have been no convictions of perpetrators,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda, said Monday.

“Governments after Marcos did not move or did not do anything to go after Marcos seriously, so we filed a case in Hawaii,” Enriquez said.

In 1992, the victims won a class action suit against the Marcos estate in Hawaii.

Under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the 9,539 victims in the Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses will be awarded compensation using $246 million, roughly P10 billion, that the government recovered from Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth deposited in Swiss bank accounts.

The bill states that these plaintiffs would be presumed victims of martial law abuses, which means they would no longer have to prove their claims for compensation.

Also to be conclusively recognized as Marcos victims are those in the list of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani foundation.

The amount each will receive will depend on the abuse suffered.

Never again

Loretta Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said her agency was looking at around 6,000 cases of abuses during the Marcos years. If there are two victims for each case, there could be 12,000 more claimants eligible for compensation, she said.

“Finally, over two decades after the fall of the dictatorship, we will have a law that puts the responsibility of human rights abuses square on the shoulder of Marcos and provides justice for all those who suffered under his reign,” said Rep. Walden Bello, a member of a congressional committee that drafted and approved the bill.

“This bill should make us realize that never again should we allow (the atrocities) of the Marcos regime to happen in this country,” Sen. Francis Escudero said after the Senate ratified the 16-page bicameral report.

“After  25 years, I really hope that the Marcos compensation bill would be signed in time for the Edsa One celebration,” the senator said.

Escudero noted that many of the victims of martial rule were more interested in being recognized and listed in the Roll of Victims than in receiving reparation, citing Sen. Joker Arroyo.

There would be cases when the Human Rights Claim Board itself would recognize unilaterally a martial law victim and put his name in the roll even if he does not apply for recognition, he added. With reports from Associated Press, Leila B. Salaverria and Cathy C. Yamsuan

Philippine dictatorship victims to be compensated

By TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press
Updated 9:00 pm, Monday, January 28, 2013

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Bill to compensate Marcos victims nears Congress OK

Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 28, 2013

A quarter century after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the government will officially hold accountable his martial law regime for human rights abuses and its victims compensated for their sufferings.

A bicameral conference committee will hold a final meeting Monday to smooth out the final version of a bill that seeks to compensate victims of abuses during the 14 years martial law was enforced before it is submitted for approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Sunday.

Compensation will come from the P10 billion of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities have transferred to the Philippines. The amount that each would receive would depend on what kind of abuse they suffered.

Aside from that, the impending law would hold Marcos responsible for what transpired during his dictatorship.

“Finally, over two decades after the fall of the dictatorship, we will have a law that puts the responsibility for human rights abuses square on the shoulder of Marcos and provides justice for all those who suffered under his reign,” Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said in a statement.

Bello, a member of the bicameral panel, also said the bill would ensure that the younger generation would learn about the atrocities committed during martial law.

It is important to impart the lessons from the Marcos regime to prevent a repeat of the dark period, he said.

“The nation is practically on the verge of forgetting the atrocities committed during the martial law period, and this is not by accident but because of the deliberate revisionist efforts of the Marcos camp to whitewash the memory of that period. Justice also lies in ensuring that Filipinos of all generations will not forget the dark, violent past, and the bill ensures that,” he said.

Contentious issues

Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), for its part, said the bill was all the more significant for formally recognizing that abuses were committed during martial law and that there were those who did not take these sitting down.

“More than the monetary compensation, the bill represents the only formal, written document that martial law violated the human rights of Filipinos and that there were courageous people who fought the dictatorship,” the group said in a statement.


SELDA salutes Martial Law heroes

News Release
January 24, 2013

Bicam finalizes reparation and recognition bill for rights victims
SELDA salutes Martial Law heroes

“We salute the Martial Law heroes who, despite old age, sickness, maneuvers of the Marcoses, and all other obstacles along the way, have painstakingly stood and fought to make sure that this bill granting reparation and recognition to the martial law victims is passed. We have gone a long way. We have long fought for this,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson and a Martial Law victim herself.

Yesterday, the bicameral conference committee hammered out the final version of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, formerly known as the Marcos victims compensation bill, provisions of which became acceptable to the majority of the victims as the final version now included SELDA’s position.

“In welcoming the final version, we remember the SELDA leaders who pursued the path of making the Marcoses accountable for the human rights violations they committed to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought martial law,” said Enriqiuez.

SELDA remembers and salutes the bravery and memories of Don Chino Roces, founding chairperson of SELDA, Dean Armando Malay, Dr. Nemesio Prudente, former Navy Capt. Danilo Vizmanos, Atty. Jose Mari Velez and Atty. Rolando Olalia. They were members of the Board of SELDA who decided to go after Marcos after the dictator’s downfall.

The group also commended the steadfastness of SELDA Board members who are still living, like Fidel Agcaoili, Juliet De Lima-Sison, Vicente Ladlad , Dean Francisco Nemenzo, Tita Lubi, Josephine Dongail and Doris Baffrey, Board members who are still alive.

“We share this victory to Atty. Romeo Capulong who took over as SELDA’s legal counsel when Atty. Jose Mari Velez died in 1991. He tirelessly assisted the victims and SELDA in the twists and turns of the case. He exerted all efforts against the maneuverings of the Marcoses and the machinations of the American and other Filipino lawyers in the case. We also dedicate this bill to all the heroes and martyrs of Martial Law who have gone before us, and who waged the most determined fight against the dictatorship and suffered the worst violations during martial law,” Enriquez stressed.

Enriquez added that this bill is a small effort of SELDA to ensure that their sacrifice shall not be put to waste. SELDA’s position on the “conclusive presumption” provision was among the positive provisions included in the final version of the bill. This provision states that the 9,539 victims who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses filed in 1986 in Hawaii are automatically recognized as victims of human rights violations.

“The bill’s passage is a victory not only for the victims but for the Filipino people. More than the monetary compensation, the bill represents the only formal, written document that martial law violated the human rights of Filipinos and that there were courageous people who fought the dictatorship.

SELDA said that with the bill now ready for ratification by Congress, the victims should make sure that the law, when put into in effect, should be fully implemented. ###

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


Update: 3rd Bicameral hearing on Marcos victims’ compensation bill

Ngayong hapon, Enero 23, inaprubahan ng bicameral conference committee ang final version ng Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. Ito ang produkto ng pinagsanib na bersyon ng Marcos victims indemnification bill na naunang isinulong ng SELDA katuwang ang mga progresibong partylist sa pangunguna ng awtor na isang kapwa Martial Law victim, si Rep. Neri Colmenares.

Sa pinal na bersyon, kinikilala na ang mga biktima ng Martial Law ay kinikilala bilang mga tunay na biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Kasama dito ang mga 9,539 biktima na nagsampa ng class suit laban sa mga Marcos sa Hawaii noong 1986. Pasok ang probisyong “conclusive presumption” na kumikilala sa mga biktima.

Sa Lunes ay iraratipika na ang panukalang batas. Ibig sabihin, matapos pirmahan ng bicameral committee, ito ay itutulak na para mapirmahan ni Aquino. 

Bagamat tiyak na mahaba pa ang labang ito, isang tagumpay ang pagkilala sa mga biktima ng Martial Law hindi lang para sa kanila kundi sa mamamayang Pilipino. Kailangang tiyaking malubos ang tagumpay na ito. Magagawa natin ito sa ating patuloy na sama-samang pagkilos.

Sa lahat ng mga kasapi ng SELDA, mga biktima at kaanak na kumilos sa Senado kanina, mabuhay kayo! Hustisya sa lahat ng mga biktima ng Martial Law! Hustisya sa lahat ng biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao!


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.

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.

News Release
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

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SELDA to bicam: “Finish work” on next meeting

News Release
January 17, 2013

“Conclusive presumption”  asserted by victims

SELDA to bicam: “Finish work” on next meeting

Appealing to members of the bicameral conference committee to “finish their work” on January 23, Martial Law victims urged both members of the Lower House and Senate to stand by the “conclusive presumption” provision in the final version of the Marcos victims compensation bill.

“By then, we hope that the bicameral meeting will finish all the work, and ensure that the bill is passed and legitimate victims are recognized as such. Any more moves to counter what has been approved by the House by the duplicitous play of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello should be stopped and condemned,” SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.

SELDA, the human rights organization who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses in 1986, asserted that the 9,539 victims should be recognized as legitimate victims under “conclusive presumption,” contrary to the “disputable presumption” pushed by Bello.

“The Hawaii class suit has been recognized as a landmark judgment, but why do Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and even CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales the first to cast doubts on the victims. These are essentially one and the same with the argument of the Marcoses, who disputed in Hawaii the legitimacy of the victims of human rights violations,” Enriquez asked.

She added that the victims took the risks of filing charges against the Marcoses for justice and indemnification, and have went through the rigorous and painful process of retelling the accounts of their arrest, detention and torture and of their colleagues. “And now these people want them to prove again, after 40 years, that they are victims? This is not only undermining history, this is a grave insult to them,” Enriquez said.  ###

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

Marcos victims ask Congress to use Hawaii class suit list

Leila B. Salaverria | 

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.

Outrageous

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


SELDA on the debates at the bicameral conference committee on the Marcos Victims Bill

Press Release
January 14, 2013

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

Plan to end Marcos wealth hunt angers rights victims

BY AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE | Rappler.com

MANILA, Philippines – Torture victims under the 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos vented their anger Wednesday, January 2, at a government plan to wind down its hunt for the late dictator’s embezzled billions.

‘SIGN OF IMPUNITY.’ Human rights group Selda said the plan to abolish the PCGG will send the signal that powerful people can commit crimes with immunity. File photo

The proposal would give the signal that people in power can commit crimes with impunity, said the human rights organization Selda.

“We cannot just forgive and forget what the Marcoses did to us, nor must the Aquino government stop pursuing justice for martial law victims and the rest of the Filipinos,” the group said in a statement.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering the Marcos wealth, said last month that it would soon wind down its operations after almost 30 years.

Its head Andres Bautista told AFP he had recommended to Aquino that the agency’s work be transferred to the justice department.

He said pursuing all of the Marcos wealth on a limited budget had become difficult with Marcos’s widow, Imelda, and her 3 children back in positions of power.

Both Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda as well as the justice department confirmed Wednesday that the proposal had been sent to President Benigno Aquino III, and that it was under study.

Marcos was toppled by a popular revolt in 1986 and replaced by Corazon Aquino, the incumbent’s late mother. Her first act was to create the commission to try to recover the plundered assets.

Bautista said the commission has recovered P164 billion ($4 billion at the prevailing exchange rate), or less than half of the estimated 10 billion dollars in wealth believed plundered by the Marcos family.

Selda groups anti-Marcos activists who were jailed and abused during martial law.

A US court in 2011 awarded some 7,500 rights victims 7.5 million dollars in compensation for their suffering, in what was seen largely as a token victory.

The funds came from assets held in the US by a crony of Marcos that were seized. – Rappler.com


After passage of Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, martial law victims call for passage of Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill

Press 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

Martial law victims seek compensation

MANILA, Philippines – Martial law victims led by the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) challenged Malacañang to enact the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill into law in commemoration of the 40th year of the imposition of Martial Law.

Martial law victim Rody del Rosario said he was a victim of warrantless arrest during the Marcos regime and stayed in jail for 2 years.

He said that after 40 years, it is high time that the government recognizes the hardships suffered by victims of martial law.

ABS-CBN Umagang Kay Ganda, Sept. 21, 2012


“Enough is Enough, indemnify ML victims now!” – Selda

Press Release
September 3, 2012
 

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: injustice continues

“Enough is Enough, indemnify ML victims now!” – Selda

Former martial law activists brought their demands for justice and indemnification at the Mendiola Bridge today as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial law this month.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) lambasted the Noynoy Aquino government’s negligence that resulted to unmonitored withdrawals from Imelda Marcos’ account at the Philippine Veterans Bank. The P36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten money under Imelda Marcos’ name is now only a little over P1M despite the garnishment order by the Sandiganbayan. Earlier in August, the ML victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court ruled to award the $23Million Marcos ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank. Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino hear and know that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice, “ Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson said.

According to the group, impunity still reigns after decades of struggling for justice. “After overthrowing Marcos, we filed and won the now historic Hawaii class suit for victims of martial law” Enriquez said, “But even under the present “matuwid na daan” of Noynoy Aquino, we continue to suffer from injustice.”

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure,” Enriquez stated, “When are we going see this administration seriously work for the justice that we, survivors of that dark regime, truly deserve?”

Furthermore, the human rights group deplored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate “Inaamag na ata ito sa Senado,” (It probably has grown mold at the Senate) said Trinidad Herrera, SELDA board member and also a survivor of the dictatorship. The group proceeded to the Senate from Mendiola for a noise barrage. “Our senators should remember that they owe us a law that should have been implemented by now. What are they waiting for, another 40 years?”

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that they are still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary. The bill was first filed in 1997 and has never been signed into law up to the present even as Noynoy Aquino rants about being a victim of martial law.

“We are not pawns that the government can use for their electoral campaign,” Trinidad continued, “The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election.”

Selda also stated that while September marks the 40 years of the imposition of martial law, they have nothing to celebrate.  “We are not here to commemorate the imposition of martial law, we are still here because the governments that succeeded the dictatorship failed to bring justice, end human rights violations and impunity. We continue to fight until we achieve justice. From martial law to Noynoy Aquino, our brand of activism lives on.” Enriquez concluded. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson (09175616800)

Trinidad Herrera, Board Member (09155443181)

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Indemnify martial law victims now – group

Remate Online

FORMER martial law activists launched a protest actions at the Mendiola Bridge today to demand for justice and indemnification as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial law this month.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) lambasted the Aquino government’s negligence that resulted to unmonitored withdrawals from Imelda Marcos’ account at the Philippine Veterans Bank.

The P36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten money under Imelda Marcos’ name is now only a little over P1M despite the garnishment order by the Sandiganbayan. Earlier in August, the ML victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court ruled to award the $23Million Marcos ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank. Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino hear and know that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice, “ Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson said.

According to the group, impunity still reigns after decades of struggling for justice. “After overthrowing Marcos, we filed and won the now historic Hawaii class suit for victims of martial law” Enriquez said, “But even under the present “matuwid na daan” of Noynoy Aquino, we continue to suffer from injustice.”

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure,” Enriquez stated, “When are we going see this administration seriously work for the justice that we, survivors of that dark regime, truly deserve?”

Furthermore, the human rights group deplored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate .

“Inaamag na ata ito sa Senado,” (It probably has grown mold at the Senate) said Trinidad Herrera, SELDA board member and also a survivor of the dictatorship.

The group will proceed to the Senate from Mendiola for a noise barrage. “Our senators should remember that they owe us a law that should have been implemented by now. What are they waiting for, another 40 years?”

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that they are still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary. The bill was first filed in 1997 and has never been signed into law up to the present even as Noynoy Aquino rants about being a victim of martial law.

“We are not pawns that the government can use for their electoral campaign,” Trinidad continued, “The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election.”

The group also stated that while September marks the 40 years of the imposition of martial law, they have nothing to celebrate.  “We are not here to commemorate the imposition of martial law, we are still here because the governments that succeeded the dictatorship failed to bring justice, end human rights violations and impunity. We continue to fight until we achieve justice. From martial law to Noynoy Aquino, our brand of activism lives on,” Enriquez said.


Martial law victims

Lino Santos | Manila Standard Today

Martial law victims and kin demand justice and indemnification during a rally at the Chino Roces (formery Mendiola) Bridge as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial rule this month.