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. ###
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.
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.
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
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!
“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
The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) today welcomes with guarded enthusiasm, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s recent statements at the ASEM meeting in Laos to compensate victims of martial law.
“We have waited for this far too long now and President Noynoy Aquino has in fact mentioned this as one of his priority bills in last year’s SONA, but until now, this is yet to be realized,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of Selda. “We are hopeful that with this current pronouncement, the bill to compensate the victims will finally be enacted into a law.”
The human rights group clarified that not all of the $680 million Marcos Swiss deposit will go to the victims and that only one-third will be used for the compensation; and this is the equivalent of P10B. “We recognize that the money is for the Filipinos and that it must be utilized for land reform. We only asked for a small portion of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth for compensation,” Enriquez stated.
SELDA only wishes that the victims will no longer be made to wait more than they have already done. Furthermore, the human rights group urged
the Senate to pass a bill that would reflect the voice of the victims and remove provisions inimical to the interests of the victims.
SELDA has been lobbying for the Senate to revise and pass SB 2615. The Committee on Justice and Human Rights said it is still awaiting the comments of Senator Joker Arroyo on the bill before they submit it for plenary debates at the Senate. The House version was passed on March 21, 2012.
SELDA Chairperson, Marie Enriquez, brought the bill’s status to the attention of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in September as well as the Human Rights Committee in October both in Geneva, urging the said bodies to remind the Philippine government of its commitment to compensate the martial law victims. In her oral intervention at the September Human Rights Council session at the adoption of the Philippine UPR report, Enriquez “particularly took note of Switzerland’s UPR recommendation to compensate the victims of martial law” especially since the Swiss government has already transferred the US$680M Marcos Swiss deposits in favor of the Philippine government in 1997 yet.
SELDA asserts that compensation to human rights violations victims like the martial law victims is a component of justice that is enshrined in the UN instruments as well as in the Philippine Constitution. Thus, the victims’ demand for indemnification are just and the portion of the funds that Marcos stashed in Swiss banks and have been transferred by the Swiss government rightfully belong to them.
SELDA will be watching and will continue to press for the government to deliver on its promise. ###
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson, SELDA
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)