SELDA’s National Coordinator Jigs Clamor speaks on PCGG’s plan to exhibit Imelda Marcos jewelry collection.
As the nation commemorates the 27th anniversary of the People Power 1 uprising, human rights group Karapatan today said that “the Noynoy Aquino government’s commemoration is completely an empty exercise meant as a window-dressing for the administration’s dismal human rights record.”
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said 27 years after Edsa 1, human rights violations continue to be committed with impunity through Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which resulted to 137 victims of extrajudicial killings, 14 cases of enforced disappearances, 498 victims of illegal arrests, among others.
“It is appalling that Aquino projects himself as a promoter of human rights and democracy, while those under his command, especially in the military and police, commit human rights abuses to quell the Filipino people’s growing discontent over his administration’s anti-people economic and social policies,” Palabay said.
Karapatan notes that notorious human rights violators since the Martial Law period up to present have not been fully made accountable for their grave crimes against the people and that they have instead sustained their hold onto powerful positions in government.
“The signs that impunity prevail are very visible – from the Marcoses and Martial Law implementor Juan Ponce Enrile, the non-arrest of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., and Aquino’s promotion of torturers and abductors such as Gen. Eduardo Año,” she added.
Palabay said that the “Edsa 1 uprising is a cumulative articulation of the Filipino people’s aspirations against the Marcoses’ tyrannical rule, the utter disregard for human rights, the sheer greed of the society’s ruling class for money and power, and the hapless bludgeoning of the poor Filipinos into the mire of poverty.”
“Edsa 1’s most relevant and significant lesson teaches us that meaningful and thoroughgoing societal change does not mean the mere change in the names and faces of tyrants but the claim of the majority of the poor and marginalized Filipinos to the arduous struggle for human rights, justice, freedom and national democracy,” she concluded. ###
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831 Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
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 held a rally outside Batasang Pambansa on Wednesday while the bicameral conference committee “harmonized” the Lower House and Senate versions of the bill to indemnify victims of martial law to craft the final version into a law.
“We are here to press our senators and congressmen to stand by the bill most acceptable and reflect the interests of the majority of the victims of Martial Law,” said Marie Hilao Enriquez, whose group, SELDA, initiated the filing of the historic class action suit against the Marcoses in the US Federal Court System in 1986 and won a favorable ruling in 1992.
SELDA stressed that members of the BiCam must consider the voices and interests of the victims embodied in the four points the organization asked to be included in the final version of the law. The first BiCam meeting resulted into debates which the victims felt were only moves to delay the passage of the bill, just before the 2013 elections.
“We reiterate that victims who filed a class action suit against Marcos in Hawaii must be conclusively presumed as legitimate human rights violation victims and must be acknowledged as such so that they will not be made to once more prove their legitimacy as human rights violations victims during martial law, just like the “new claimants” who will be filing claims for the first time under Philippine law Instead of instantly casting doubts on the victims, the law should prioritize that victims need recognition and reparation or indemnification as components of justice that victims long deserved,” Enriquez said.
The group has earlier expressed disappointment on Sen. Joker Arroyo’s insistence of a provision on disputable presumption of the martial law victims who filed and won a case vs. Marcos in Hawaii . Enriquez explained, “it is not only painful, but far more dangerous, for the victims to undergo and endure the painful and rigorous process again to prove they were indeed violated during Martial Law.”
SELDA also said that only considering as human rights violations victims during martial law those who “peacefully exercised their rights against the dictatorship” is clearly excluding those who resisted the violations during the white terror years and sends a very dangerous signal to the perpetrators of human rights violations that theperpetrators can do what they like to people considered as not “peacefully” exercising their civil and political rights. This provision also opens up a problem of who will and how will the “peaceful” exercise be determined. Further, even the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which the Philippine government subscribes to, does not specify how the rights will be exercised.
“Why should this be an issue when the rights to take up arms in a time of tyrannical rule are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Pushing for such a provision in a law meant to render a component of justice to martial law victims will deny such Martial Law heroes and martyrs as Emman Lacaba, Edgar Jopson, Lorena Barros, and a hundred more who have been recognized as worthy of emulation by Bantayog ng mga Bayani and most importantly, in our nation’s history,” she 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.
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.
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
“The decision of the US Court of Appeals declaring Imelda Marcos and her son Bongbong in contempt is another victory for the victims of martial law.”
The statement was issued today by Bonifacio Ilagan, Vice-Chairperson of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA).
On October 24, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a contempt judgment on Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, his mother Imelda and the estate of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos for violating a court order transferring the assets of the estate.
“The decision is a smack in the face of the Marcoses who continue to arrogantly hold on to their ill-gotten wealth and to use it to remain in their lofty positions and power,” Ilagan stated.
Bongbong sits as a senator, mother Imelda is currently a congressman and sister Imee is governor of Ilocos province. Both mother and daughter are running for re-election in next year’s elections.
The US Court of Appeals has ordered that martial law victims be awarded US$353.6 million resulting from the daily fine of $100,000 from February 3, 1995 to February 3, 2005 imposed by the Hawaii Court of First Instance.
Despite this, the victims of the Marcos dictatorship has yet to be indemnified after winning the historic Class Action Suit against Marcos in 1992.
“It’s been twenty years since that historic day, and to date, even after gaining another victory, no law has been passed by the government to indemnify the victims,” Ilagan lamented. “This delay has partly been caused by various settlements that the different administrations have entered into with the Marcoses since the time of former President Corazon Aquino.”
SELDA warned the current Aquino government from entering into any agreement with the Marcoses that would compromise the martial law victims. It stressed that now is the time for it to complement the US Court of Appeals decision with positive action by pushing the Senate to act on the indemnification bill, as well as hold the Marcoses and their cronies and henchmen accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people.
“What worth is this victory, if the Aquino government continues to ignore our demands for justice and even turns chummy chummy with the Marcoses?” Ilagan queried.
“Whatever we gained through this latest US Court decision should not end up being ill-gotten once more.” SELDA concluded. ###
Reference: Bonifacio Ilagan – Vice Chairperson (09176291241)
Contempt case involves $354-M award to human rights victims
October 29, 2012 | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship have scored a victory in their long quest to get compensation from the Marcos estate.
A US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld on Oct. 24 a contempt judgment against Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., his mother Imelda and the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos for violating an injunction that barred them from dissipating assets of the estate.
The judgment amounting to $353.6 million is believed to be the largest contempt award ever affirmed by an appellate court.
The judgment may be implemented against any US property owned by Imelda and Bongbong. However, the human rights victims need to ask the Philippine government for implementation of the judgment against the Marcoses’ personal property in the Philippines.
A Philippine law requires that all ill-gotten wealth recovered from the Marcoses should be spent on the government’s land reform program.
Robert Swift, lead counsel for the 10,000 Filipino human rights victims who obtained a judgment against the late dictator and his estate in 1995, said he was satisfied with the new judgment.
“The Marcoses have thumbed their noses at the United States court and Filipino human rights victims ever since the $2-billion judgment was entered in 1995,” Swift said in a statement.
The American lawyer said the Marcoses were caught trying to dissipate the estate’s assets to recapitalize the family’s political dynasty in the Philippines.
Bongbong began serving his six-year term as senator in 2010. Imelda is a representative of Ilocos Norte in Congress, while daughter Imee is the governor of the province. Both mother and daughter are running for reelection in midterm elections in May 2013.
Swift said the new judgment was against Imelda and her son personally for their misconduct.
“It broadens the possibilities for collection of money to the human rights victims. The victims can be assured they we will vigorously and aggressively seek to collect this sum,” the lawyer said.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales said Sunday night that the US court victory against the Marcoses was “payback” for the “shameless arrogance” of Bongbong and his mother, who have not apologized for the looting and the killings during the Marcos regime.
“If we can’t get their apology, at least we will force them to pay more and refresh the minds of a new generation of Filipinos on the atrocities committed by the family for close to two decades,” Rosales said in a phone interview.
“They (Bongbong and Imelda) are the face of their families and the Filipinos should continue to demand payment for the sins of their family.”
She said the $353.6 million awarded by the US court would be on top of the close to $2 billion awarded to martial law victims in 1995.
Barred in US
Rosales said she was told by lawyers that the contempt award meant that the Marcoses would not be allowed to set foot on any US territory.
“The contempt ruling means that the US courts are taking seriously the disrespect shown by the Marcoses. More than the heavy fines, this is a big embarrassment to the family who has shown no remorse for the deeds they made,” the CHR said.
Rosales said that the contempt charge was a “long shot” and that the US courts sided with the victims was a “pleasant surprise.”
“The senator’s refusal to apologize and own up to the sins of his father only shows the continuing arrogance of his family,” said Rosales, herself a victim of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
The litigation against Marcos began in 1986 shortly after the dictator and his family fled to Hawaii following the people power revolution.
After Marcos died, Imelda fought the litigation. Following a historic trial, a Hawaiian jury awarded 9,539 Filipino human rights victims almost $2 billion.
The judgment was affirmed on appeal. While the jury was deliberating, the Marcoses entered into a secret deal with the Philippine government to make the Marcos estate judgment-proof.
When Swift learned of this, the human rights victims sought a contempt award against Imelda and her son, and the Marcos estate’s legal representatives, for violating the injunction that barred them from dissipating the estate’s assets.
Imelda and Bongbong were found to have agreed to the transfer from the United States to the Philippines artworks considered part of the estate, and to split the estate with the Philippine government, retaining 25 percent tax-free as their share.
After five hearings during which documents showing the Marcoses’ efforts to dissipate the assets were introduced, the court found the Marcoses in contempt and ordered them to pay the victims until they purged their contempt.
The Hawaii Court of First Instance imposed a daily fine of $100,000 from Feb. 3, 1995, to Feb. 3, 2005, when the contempt order expired, leaving a total fine of $353,600,000.
The appellate court last week wrote that the “$100,000 per day amount was necessary and appropriate because the Marcoses’ contumacious conduct” caused direct harm to the victims, by preventing them from collecting on their $2-billion judgment. With a report from Gil Cabacungan