Dennis Carcamo | Philippine Star
Rights group Karapatan on Thursday called on the Aquino administration for transparent and credible process in the selection of the members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.
“The process should be acceptable to the victims,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Palabay said they are apprehensive because as vital information on the nomination process and schedules were not publicized.
“We hope that this is not a foreshadowing of the possible exclusion of the nominees of Selda and Tanggol Bayi from the Human Rights Claims Board,” Palabay added.
The group also echoed the call of the martial law victims that the Claims Board should be composed of people “with integrity, competence and probity and, who understand the plight of the victims.”
Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the Claims board is mandated to formulate the implementing rules and regulations of the measure and to process the claims of victims of human rights violations during martial law.
Statement of SELDA on the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013Press 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. ###
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!
Rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) warned martial law victims of possible scams in the process of their application for compensation for human rights victims.
“We call on all martial law victims to be wary of persons who ask for money for processing their claims,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
Enriquez said their organization issues this warning after receiving reports that some victims were approached by people who asked for personal information and for processing fee for their claims.
Victims of human rights violations under martial law are entitled to a compensation after the bicameral session of the Senate and Lower Houses signed the final version of the martial law victims indemnification bill, now called the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Pres. Noynoy Aquino is said to sign the bill into law on February 25, the anniversary of EDSA People Power.
According to Enriquez, a friend from the media forwarded her an e-mail from a concerned citizen who raised concern on the possibility of a scam. According to the e-mail, individuals in Marawi City, some of them teachers, were “recruited” to attend a seminar in Davao City as martial law victims. They were allegedly asked to give P3,000 each, and were told that they will receive a million pesos if they attend the seminar. SELDA is currently verifying the said report.
“We are advising everybody not to fall prey to these culprits. We have fought for justice this long. We should ensure that the compensation, however small, shall be received by the rightful recipients,” Enriquez said.
SELDA also received a report from its local chapter in Concepcion, Tarlac that two SELDA members, both teachers in an elementary school who are tasked to encode documents of claimants in their town, were approached by a certain Gerry Caloza. He told them that he is from the Office of the President, and asked all sorts of question about their documentation work. Caloza cannot give any clear reason why he was interested with the information on the victims.
Martial law victims in Bataan, meanwhile, were approached by persons identifying themselves as members of a certain Bullion group, who told them they will receive millions in claims. The victims immediately informed Selda of the report.
Enriquez said it will be most safe and secure for the victims to contact SELDA, one of the organizations recognized under the Human
Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 to identify victims and help process the claims.
SELDA was the lead organization in the historic filing of the class suit against the Marcoses in 1986, and has regional chapters
nationwide which may help identify victims who may receive claims.
Enriquez also said their apprehensions are not baseless since there was a case on fake claimants discovered last year.
In November 2011, Edward and Marlyn Santiago, along with six others, were charged with estafa after the Criminal Investigation and
Detection Group (CIDG) found out attempts by some individuals to encash checks named after legitimate victims using fake IDs. The
Santiago couple is suspected to be recruiting persons to claim checks under the name of legitimate claimants.
For more information on the compensation for Martial Law victims, please contact SELDA at (632) 434-2837 or 0917-596-5859 . ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 0917-5616800