Rights victims who won a favorable judgement in Hawaii clarifies position on the so-called recoveries from the sale of a Monet paintingPress Statement 19 August 2013
The Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), the organization of former political prisoners which initiated the filing of the historic class action suit for human rights violations against former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and family, today welcomed the efforts of recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court.
To clarify, SELDA Chairperson Marie Hilao Enriquez, whose parents – Maximo and Celsa Hilao – are the lead plaintiffs in the historic suit, recalled that the Hawaii Court ruled in 1992 in favor of the victims; the ruling became final and executory in 1995; providing for a $2B exemplary and $776M compensatory damages for the Hawaii claimants. This meant that any recovery of Marcoses’ property by the Hawaii claimants’ lawyer, in this case, Atty. Robert Swift, can be undertaken to collect on the judgment imposed by the Hawaiian Court. Therefore, as long as the full judgment rendered by the Hawaii court has not been fully satisfied by the Marcoses, Atty. Robert Swift can identify Marcos’ illegal properties for the benefit of the Hawaiian claimants (meaning those who are included in the 9,539 victims validated by the Court in Hawaii.)
We welcome the news that the victims included in the Hawaii case, would benefit from the sale of a valuable painting that Imelda Marcos acquired during the martial law years. We recognize Atty. Robert Swift’s efforts to go after the Marcoses ill-gotten wealth to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court. However, we would like to reiterate and remind Atty. Swift and other lawyers that before any settlement and distribution of monies from such takes place, the victims must be consulted; their views on such obtained as they have a right to know who this “secret buyer” is (for all the victims know, the buyer may also end up a Marcos) and what the provisions of the settlement are. Even if the Hawaii court determines the fairness of the settlement by asking the victims, the latter can only reply intelligently if they are well- informed of the agreements.
We also hope that the original 9,539 victims validated by the Court in 1994 will be included in the beneficiaries of the said recovery. We do not like a repeat of the 2011 so-called check distribution to the 7,526 victims “from the settlement agreement reached by Atty. Robert Swift and the Marcos crony Jose Yao-Campos for the 2 pieces of real estate properties in the US of Imelda Marcos.”
The 2011 check distribution disenfranchised 2, 013 victims who seemed delisted arbitrarily by the lawyers in the Hawaii suit. We demand that the original list of 9,539 and NOT ONLY the 7,526 victims will benefit from this boasted sale of the Monet painting. As the judgment has not been fully satisfied yet and the lawyer can go on recovering or making settlement agreements with the Marcoses, we condemn the disenfranchisement of those delisted from the original 9,539. Even if the original claimants have died, they are still represented by their next of kin and families as well as other relatives.
Further, Enriquez asks, “I understood that the Hawaii class suit or the MDL-840 is a consolidated case of three groups who sued Marcos in the Hawaii Court in 1986. The three groups were the SELDA group of 9,539; the group of 21 Filipino expatriates in the US led by Vic Clemente and Fluellen Ortigas and the group of three of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the parents of the former representing his disappeared brother, Francisco Sison and Jose Piopongco, whose radio station was ordered confiscated by then Pres. Marcos. I understand that all three groups won the historic class action suit and therefore, all three must be included in any settlement agreement or recoveries to collect on judgment. That is why it is not only 9,539 victims who must benefit from the recovery of Marcos’ wealth but the three groups who won in the landmark case.”
Atty. Robert Swift and his co-counsels must be able to explain this to the victims and to the public as well. SELDA informs the public that any recovery of Atty. Swift to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court pertains and will only benefit the claimants in the Hawaii case and not the entire list of martial law victims in the Philippines as covered by the recently-signed but unimplemented RA 10368 or Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. ###
Bicameral committee meeting set in 2013
Let the voices of the victims be heard in the compensation bill that will be enacted into law
The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA today reminded and strongly urged the members of the legislative body to allow the voices of the victims to be heard and formally be worded in the planned harmonized version of the law that will be crafted by members of the Senate and House of Representatives bicameral committee for the compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.
SELDA, the human rights organization that spearheaded the filing of a class suit against Marcos in Hawaii in 1986, welcomed the passage of the bill on third reading in the Senate on December 17, 2012 as members of the organization have repeatedly conducted several lobby activities in the Upper House for its action. The Lower House has passed its version on March 21, 2012 yet.
“Our efforts have brought us to this juncture where the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill is on the threshold of being enacted into a law,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson. “However, we still have to continue to lobby for the law to reflect the victims’ voices.”
In a position paper submitted to legislators last year, SELDA members are pushing for the following provisions to be included in the proposed law:
- Recognition of the original 9,539 victims and class suit plaintiffs, as well as 24 other individual plaintiffs (21 Filipino US-based expats who filed a case for human rights violations against Marcos in 1986; and a group of 3 Filipinos, who include Prof. Jose Ma. Sison and his mother, representing his disappeared brother, Francisco, and who filed a similar cases in Hawaii against Marcos on the same year; the cases of the 21 and the 3 were consolidated with the class suit to be called Multi District Litigation 840 or MDL 840) , all of whom filed a case against former President Marcos in the U.S. in 1986 and won after the U.S. Federal Court and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court issued their rulings on September 22, 1992 and December 10, 1997 respectively, and who have already been validated by the Hawaiian Court as legitimate human rights violations victims during the time of the dictatorship.
- Inclusion of the victims of enforced disappearance among those who should be considered for the determination of award under Section 16 of Senate Bill 3334.
- Inclusion of SELDA as one of the members of the commission/committee that will be created and tasked to implement the enacted law. SELDA pushes for inclusion in the group that will be responsible to identify the victim/claimant.
- And finally, to remove the section that requires “for a human rights violation to be compensable, the killing, torture or infliction of physical injuries must be committed against a Filipino citizen peacefully exercising civil or political rights.” This will create a difficulty among those who will decide who should be considered as victims who “peacefully” exercised their rights as against those who did not. Anybody can be summarily excluded after having been accused of getting involved in a “non-peaceful” means of exercising his/her civil or political rights.
“The coming year would be a memorable year for martial law victims if the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill will finally be enacted into law containing the provisions we victims want included. That is why even during the holidays, victims must continue to monitor and lobby to make sure that the law is not just enacted to prettify the Aquino government and deodorize its ugly human rights record among the public and in the community of nations,” Enriquez stated.
SELDA has been pushing for a law to indemnify victims of human rights violations as a component of justice, including victims of martial law. SELDA members have repeatedly believed and said that components of justice are recognition of victims of human rights violations, indemnification of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and their punishment, apology to victims and a promise from perpetrators of non-repetition of human rights violations. This way, impunity will be lessened, if not completely curtailed.
“We have declared that a law for the reparation of victims of the Marcos dictatorship is only a battle won in our lifelong struggle for justice. So long as implementers of Martial Law remain unpunished, we will not tire of seeking justice for their victims.” Enriquez ended. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 09209466207