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
As Karapatan calls on Noynoy, Congress to pass Marcos victims bill before elections
Rights group hits pro-Marcos views of Arroyo, Akbayan at the bicam of Marcos victims’ bill
Karapatan today called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino and Congress “to pass the version of the Marcos victims compensation bill that is acceptable and judicious for the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law and their relatives.“
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said Aquino and both houses of Congress should not delay the immediate passage of the acceptable version of the law, have it passed and signed into law before it gets frustrated again with the frenzy for the upcoming election period. “Since the landmark judgment in Hawaii on the class suit against Marcos, several sessions of Congress have been remiss in rendering justice and indemnification for Marcos victims through the appropriate legislative measure. Aquino should certify this as an urgent measure,” she commented.
The House of Representatives and Senate have formed a bicameral conference committee to deliberate on versions of the bill from both houses.
Palabay noted that there were “snags” encountered during the debates of the bicameral conference committee, citing the positions of Sen. Joker Arroyo and Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello which the group deems as “pro-Marcos” views, as the points of debates they inject in the bicameral meetings go against the principle of the proposed law, which is to render justice and indemnification to Martial Law victims.
“Both lawmakers denigrate the persevering efforts of the victims when they disregard the judgment of the US court in the landmark class suit against the Marcos. By asserting that there should be ‘disputable presumption’ for all victims, they are providing the Marcoses with another malicious legal tactic to contest the judgment in Hawaii, which found former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos guilty of rights abuses during Martial Law. This proposal is clearly in favor of the Marcoses,” Palabay explained.
Palabay said Karapatan and the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), a group of former political prisoners which led the filing of the class suit in Hawaii, insist that “conclusive presumption” should be given to the 9,539 victims who filed and won the class suit in Hawaii to give due and appropriate recognition for the ‘guilty’ judgment on Marcos.
Karapatan also said the two legislators should be reminded of the principle enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN UDHR) that recognizes that right of peoples, who are confronting tyrannical and oppressive regimes, to take up arms against these kinds of governments, such as the Marcos regime.
“By proposing to exclude as ‘victims’ those who took up arms and also suffered rights violations during Martial Law, Arroyo and Bello are promoting principles that undermine the struggles of the Filipino people during Martial Law and, in effect, are undermining the universally recognized right of peoples to oppose tyrannical regimes, in whatever form they deem necessary,” Palabay concluded.
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831 Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
ALBANY, New York—New York courts have dismissed the claim by victims of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos for more than $35 million from a US brokerage account, citing the competing claim by the Philippine government upheld by its own highest court.
The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest judicial body, says the state’s courts for now “should not intercede” in a case that remains within the province of Philippine national sovereignty.
If the assets belong to that country’s people, also victimized by the Marcos regime that was overthrown in 1986, the court says the assets should be returned.
Marcos was sued in the US federal court in Hawaii, where he fled, on behalf of some 10,000 victims of arrest, torture and execution. The plaintiffs obtained a nearly $2-billion judgment after he died and now seek related assets.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto), an organization of former political prisoners, said in Manila that the decision was “disheartening for the victims.”
Proves Marcoses stole
“At the same time, I’m also happy because that proves that the Marcoses stole money from the people, and that should be returned to the Filipino people. In effect, the court ruled in favor of the Philippine government,” she said by phone.
“The problem is, it might be stolen again if it’s returned to the people,” Enriquez said, recalling that part of the $386-million ($630 million in 2004) “Marcos loot,” which the Swiss Supreme Court ordered transferred to the Philippines in 1997, was used in the 2004 “fertilizer fund scam.”
Enriquez, daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the class suit filed against the Marcos family, said lawyer Robert Swift made the claim for the victims to fund the $2-billion judgment.
Selda filed a class action suit for 10,000 victims before the US Federal District Court System on April 7, 1986. The court ruled against the Marcos family on Sept. 22, 1992, finding the dictator guilty of crimes against humanity. The court ordered the Marcos family to pay exemplary damages of $1.9 billion and later, compensatory damages of $776 million to the victims.
Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said in a text message: “I feel rather sad that a historical judgment won for victims of martial law—the first court to declare Marcos guilty of human rights violations—should be resisted by pure legal arguments, blind to the spirit of the historical judgment: compensate those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. It’s a sad day.” Reports from AP and TJ Burgonio in Manila