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
“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
Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Lawmakers crafting the final bicameral version of a bill granting compensation to victims of human rights violations during martial law are debating whether or not to automatically recognize a certain group of claimants for indemnification or to open the fund to all claimants.
Despite this snag, however, they remained optimistic a final version of the measure would be ready for ratification by the Senate and House of Representatives when both houses resume sessions on Jan. 21.
The first bicameral conference committee meeting was held last week and another is scheduled for Wednesday.
The compensation bill seeks to provide tax-free remuneration to victims of human rights violations or their relatives during the dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The funds would be taken from the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities have returned to the Philippines and which stands at about P10 billion.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the bicameral conference committee debated during its meeting last week on whether or not it would be fair to automatically recognize the claimants in the Hawaii class suit against the Marcoses as human rights victims entitled to compensation.
The House version of the bill states that there would be a conclusive presumption that claimants in the Hawaii suit were victims of human rights violations, while the Senate version provides for a disputable presumption, meaning their claims would be subject to validation.
Bello believes the panel is moving toward adopting the position of disputable presumption, which would allow those who have doubts about the validity of the Hawaii claimants to contest their status and present proof against them.
Discussions on sharing
Another point that was the subject of much discussion was the proposed 80-20 sharing of the compensation fund in the House bill, where the bigger chunk would go to the martial law victims recognized by the Hawaii court, and 20 percent to all other claimants.
Bello said several lawmakers raised questions about this provision’s constitutionality and fairness, and the matter had yet to be resolved.
September 9,2010: SELDA CONDEMNS TRUMPED UP CHARGES AGAINST PROGRESSIVE PARTYLISTS AND ORGANIZATIONS
Fr. Dionito Cabillas, National Secretariat of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), today decried the latest spate of cases filed by the military and police against at least four leaders of progressive partylists and organizations in the Bicol Region as “fabrications of militarist minds” meant to intensify the harassment against the organizations in the region.
Charges of multiple murder, frustrated murder, multiple carnapping and malicious mischief were filed against Felix Paz, chairman of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Bikol (KMP-Bikol), Leo Caballero, spokesperson of Derechos Obrero, Jariz Vida, secretary general of BAYAN-Muna-Camarines Sur and Joe Pernia, chairman of BAYAN Muna-Bicol, among others.
“As long as Oplan Bantay , the counter-insurgency plan of the Arroyo government, is the same blueprint adopted by the Aquino administration, trumped up charges and criminalization of so-called political offenses are bound to continue. Oplan Bantay Laya has resulted to the illegal arrests, torture and detention of more than 300 political prisoners under the Arroyo regime, including the Morong 43,” Cabillas stated.
Cabillas expressed the support of their organization for the recent hunger strike conducted by eight political prisoners in Bohol and two political prisoners in Danao City, Cebu calling on Pres. Aquino for the immediate release of the Morong 43 and all political prisoners as well as the immediate scrapping of the Oplan Bantay Laya.
“Oplan Bantay Laya should be immediately scrapped. We do not need statements paying lip-service to human rights while activists, partylist leaders and leaders from the marginalized communities,” Cabillas ended.
We, political prisoners in Bohol, are calling on the government of Pres. Benigno Aquino III to free all political prisoners in the country who were victims of gross human rights violations and political persecution, and corruption of the past administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In the province of Bohol, there are five political prisoners who are languishing inside jails for more than eight years because of fabricated and baseless charges. Five of us are leaders of peasant organizations, while one of us was arrested this year on charges of rebellion.
We are in solidarity with all progressive organizations and groups who are calling for the immediate release of the group of health workers and professionals known collectively as the Morong 43. They are volunteer health workers who have chosen to serve the marginalized and impoverished sectors in society, but they were falsely charged with cases of rebellion and illiegal possession of fire arms a spart of the legal offensives of the Arroyo administration. They were illegally arrested last February 6, 2010 in Morong Rizal, and they were tortured for days. Two of them were pregnant during the time of their arrest, one gave birth while she was detained.
We are calling for the immediate and serious resumption of the formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front to further talks on the roots of the civil war in the Philippines.
Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya! We are calling on Pres. Aquino’s government to scrap this anti-insurgency policy being implemented by the military which served as a blueprint for the victimization of more than 1,000 victims of extra-judicial killings, more than 200 victims of enforced disappearances, more than 300 political prisoners at thousands of those whose human rights were violated.
Resume GRP-NDF Peace Talks!
Free all political prisoners! Free Morong 43!
Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya!
Note: The six political prisoners in Bohol are currently in hunger strike to call for the immediate release of Morong 43 and all political prisoners.