Posts tagged “Marcos ill-gotten wealth

SELDA urges Pres. Aquino to sign into law the martial law reparation bill

News Release
February  20, 2013

On the upcoming anniversary of the first Edsa People Power, the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) calls on Pres. Aquino to immediately sign into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Almost three weeks after having been ratified by both houses of congress, the said measure still awaits the president’s signature for its enactment into law.

According to SELDA, the victims have waited so long for this law and the pomposity and grandiose preparation that go with the President’s formal signing should not be a reason for its delay.

“We have already suffered and waited more than enough for the past 27 years. Its passage into law and the final recognition of the struggles and sacrifices of victims and survivors is substantially enough for us.  We strongly urge Aquino not to delay anymore its signing, and let the law now do justice for us,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda.

Though it sees nothing wrong that the bill is said to be signed on the anniversary of the first people power, SELDA expresses dismay that the eventual signing would be used by the Aquino administration to further portray itself as a “human rights champion” and to score points for the government during this election period.

“The law is a product of the numerous efforts of the victims to seek justice, and it should not be used to deodorize the human rights record of this regime brought about by the numerous killings and transgressions that are committed by this regime,” said Hilao-Enriquez. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 0917-5616800

Bill to compensate Marcos victims nears Congress OK

Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 28, 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.

Contentious issues

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.


SELDA salutes Martial Law heroes

News Release
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


Martial Law victims urge lawmakers to stand by “conclusive presumption”

Hundreds of Martial Law victims from Central Luzon and Manila gathered at the Senate grounds today while the bicameral conference committee deliberates the Marcos victims’ compensation bill for the third time.

Hundreds of Martial Law victims from Central Luzon and Manila gathered at the Senate grounds today while the bicameral conference committee deliberates the Marcos victims’ compensation bill for the third time.

News Release
January 23, 2013

3rd bicam hearing on Marcos victims compensation today
Martial Law victims urge lawmakers to stand by “conclusive presumption”

Hundreds of Martial Law victims from Central Luzon and Manila gathered at the Senate grounds today while the bicameral conference committee deliberates the Marcos victims’ compensation bill for the third time.

“We hope that they finish discussing the bill today,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, “we also urge them to stand by with provisions that recognize all legitimate victims, including the ‘conclusive presumption’ provision of the House version of the bill.”

The ‘conclusive presumption’ provision recognizes that the 9,539 victims, including the 24 direct action plaintiffs who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses in 1986 are legitimate HRV victims that must be automatically considered as such under the proposed Philippine law. “They have gone through the tedious process of proving that they are victims under a competent court and must not be made to go through a grueling process again of relating their sufferings under the law; they have done so in the Hawaii court already. Enriquez added that the ‘conclusive presumption’ provision shall also encourage other victims who were not part of the class suit to come forward.

Fears that fake claimants may take the place of genuine victims should not be the case, according the group, because the bill has a number of mechanisms to prove this. One of the safeguards would be to involve the organizations of victims and other organizations that documented and assisted the victims in their struggle for justice. These are SELDA, FIND, TFD and some lawyer organizations that helped in the legal cases of the victims.

SELDA strongly believes that a final version of the proposed law will be hammered out by the BiCam in this, hopefully, last meeting as the bill has been promised by the President to be a priority bill of his administration and also by the Speaker of the House, Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte. President Aquino even promised the president of Switzerland that a law on the victims’ indemnification is forthcoming. Members of the BiCam therefore are urged by the victims to enact the law that embodies their aspirations and interests as a modicum part of justice they long deserve. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

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3rd bicam hearing on Marcos victims compensation

ADVISORY - SELDA INDEM


Bicam on human rights compensation bill OKs panel to evaluate claims

Karen Boncocan | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — The bicameral conference committee on human rights compensation bill for victims during the Marcos regime has approved the creation of a compensation board which will evaluate claims.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares on Wednesday said that the members of the panel were now discussing the qualifications of the members of the board.

Senate Bill 3334 proposed that the compensation board scrutinized claims for compensation by martial law victims.

The panel is presently in talks to resolve contentious issues on SB 3334 and House Bill 5990, which seeks to include 9,539 human rights victims who were part of a prior complaint adjudged by the US Federal Court System in Hawaii.

The Senate version also requires evidence of human rights violations against the martial law victims.

This goes against the House position, led by the principal author of its version Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, which seeks to acknowledge the Hawaii plaintiffs as victims during the Marcos regime without requiring evidence.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO


Martial Law victims to bicam: No more delays, enact “pro-victim” bill now!

SAM_0364
 
News Release
January 16, 2013

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


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Rights group hits pro-Marcos views of Arroyo, Akbayan at the bicam of Marcos victims’ bill

Press Statement
January 15, 2013

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

 


Martial law victims demand for ‘acceptable’ version of compensation bill

Selda, a group of martial law victims, holds a rally outside the House of Representatives on Wednesday as the bicameral conference committee on the Marcos victims compensation bill meets anew. KAREN BONCOCAN/INQUIRER.net

Karen Boncocan | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — A group of martial law victims went to the House of Representatives Wednesday to demand that the bicameral conference committee on the human rights compensation bill ensure that the reconciled version would be acceptable to them.

Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) urged the panel to craft a reconciled version of House Bill 5990 and Senate Bill 3334 that would “reflect the interests of majority of the victims of martial law.”

The group called on lawmakers to ensure that the government recognizes “victims who filed a class action suit against Marcos in Hawaii… as legitimate human rights violation victims.”

HB 5990, being pushed by its principal author Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, urges the government to recognize and compensate 9,539 rights victims under the Marcos regime in a prior complaint adjudged by the US Federal Court System in Hawaii.

The Senate version requires evidence that the rights of the victims were violated.

The bicameral panel is set to discuss in a meeting this Wednesday whether the Hawaii plaintiffs ought to be recognized as actual victims of human rights violation during the Marcos regime.

Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares slammed Akbayan Representative Walden Bello for opposing the House version of the bill, saying that the partylist lawmaker undermined the position of the lower chamber in resolving the conflicting provisions of the House and Senate measures.

“Bayan Muna believes that the latest statement of Rep.  Bello that the version of the House in the Marcos compensation bill suffers from constitutional infirmities and that the House is about to abandon its version to give Hawaii victims conclusive presumption that they are indeed victims, is an attack against the victims of human rights during martial law,” he said.

“This is not about Bayan Muna and Akbayan disagreeing with each other.  This is about siding with human rights victims against the Marcoses,” added Colmenares.

The two partylist groups have been known to be political rivals.

Bello was opposed to the 80-20 percent distribution of compensation between the human rights victims in Hawaii and the other complainants.

Colmenares defended the House’s position, saying that the 80-20 percent classification was “fair and reasonable because it recognizes the long suffering of the Hawaii claimants.”


Marcos victims ask Congress to use Hawaii class suit list

Leila B. Salaverria | 

A group of martial law detainees on Monday appealed to Congress to automatically consider some 9,000 individuals who won a class suit against the Marcoses in Hawaii victims of human rights violations entitled to government compensation.

Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) directed its plea to the bicameral conference committee, which is hammering out the final version of a bill that seeks to indemnify victims of abuses during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

The remuneration would come from the P10 billion in Marcos ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities had returned to the Philippine government after the dictator’s  ouster in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Selda, which led the filing of the Hawaii case, said claimants must be conclusively presumed as human rights violations victims, as stated in the House of Representatives version of the bill.

The bicameral conference committee is debating on whether to follow the House version or the Senate version, which states that there is a “disputable presumption” that the claimants are victims, meaning they are subject to validation. The panel is to meet on Wednesday following a first meeting last week.

In a statement, Selda chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said that to make the claimants in the Hawaii case undergo a rigorous validation process again would undermine their efforts to seek justice.

“Such a provision is dangerous, for if this is included and passed into law, the victims who filed and won the Hawaii case will once again undergo and endure the painful and rigorous process to prove that they were indeed violated during martial law,” Enriquez said.

“We are adamant that conclusive presumption should be the principle adopted to automatically consider the 9,539 victims who pursued and won the Hawaii case under the proposed Philippine law,” she added.

Enriquez also said the group was pushing the compensation bill  to enforce the 1992 judgment in the Hawaii case, which was to indemnify the martial law victims.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, one of the Hawaii claimants and a coauthor of the bill, also said that it would be dangerous to do away with the conclusive presumption clause.

He said some of the victims may be unable to present evidence to defend themselves if their application for compensation was contested, considering the many years that had passed.

Colmenares would not be filing any application for compensation since he was the author of the bill, but he added that he himself would be hard put to find the evidence to show he was tortured and imprisoned for four years.

Outrageous

And if a Hawaii claimant was denied by the compensation board, it would just lend credence to the Marcoses’ claim that many of those who filed the court case were fake martial law victims, according to Colmenares.

“It is surely unkind to make the Hawaii victims, the majority of whom are very old now, to again relive before the compensation board their rape, torture and sufferings. This is outrageous,” he said.

He also defended the House provision that states that 80 percent of the compensation fund would go to the Hawaii claimants, and the remaining 20 percent to other claimants.

About 10,000 purported victims have filed cases against the Marcoses following the long and tedious court processes in Hawaii. But Congress is not sure how many of those who did not file cases will apply for compensation, especially since 40 years have passed since martial law was declared in 1972.

Selda also said the compensation bill must recognize all human rights violations victims during the martial law regime, and not just those who were exercising their rights “peacefully” as stated in the Senate version.

“It will be the height of historical amnesia and ignorance to only recognize the rights violations against those who ‘peacefully exercised their rights,’ as if the situation during the martial law years would permit such an exercise,” Enriquez said.

She said those who marched and defended themselves against the Philippine Constabulary and those who joined the communist New People’s Army also had rights.

Joker Arroyo slammed

Enriquez criticized Sen. Joker Arroyo for reportedly derailing the panel’s initial meeting last week by insisting, as embodied in the Senate version of the bill, on limiting reparation to those who fought the dictatorship through peaceful means.

“Arroyo wants to exclude those who resorted to armed resistance during martial law, implying that in doing so, they had given up their rights,” Enriquez told the Inquirer after a meeting in the office of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace and unification.

Asked for a reaction, Arroyo’s staff released to the Inquirer without comment a letter from Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, pointing out that the 80-20 ratio provision in the proposed package would nullify the intention of the measure—to give reparation to all victims of human rights abuses.

Arroyo was one of the few prominent lawyers, including the late Jose W. Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada, who defended human rights victims during the martial law years. With a report from Cathy Yamsuan


SELDA on the debates at the bicameral conference committee on the Marcos Victims Bill

Press Release
January 14, 2013

The Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), a group formed by Martial Law victims that led the filing of the historic class action suit against former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii, today reiterated its position on the issues being debated upon at the bicameral conference committee on the Marcos victims compensation bill.

Marie Hilao Enriquez, SELDA chairperson and daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the Hawaii case, enjoined members of the bicameral conference committee “to adopt provisions which are acceptable to the victims and their relatives, instead of undermining their arduous and persevering efforts for justice and indemnification.”

“For one, we are deeply disappointed with the utter disregard shown by Sen. Joker Arroyo and Rep. Walden Bello when they dismissed the efforts of the 9,539 victims who filed the class action suit in Hawaii by pursuing a provision on disputable presumption. Such provision is dangerous, for if this is included and passed into law, the victims who filed and won the Hawaii case will once again undergo and endure the painful and rigorous process to prove that they were indeed violated during Martial Law. We are adamant that conclusive presumption should be the principle adopted to automatically consider the 9,539 victims who pursued and won the Hawaii case under the proposed Philippine law,” Enriquez opined.

SELDA agrees with the Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, himself a victim and among the class members in the Hawaii suit, in his position asserting for conclusive presumption, as this is in fact an acknowledgement of the State of the judgment of the US courts, which found Marcos and his cronies guilty for the human rights violations under Martial Law. “To run counter to this position is tantamount to opening a Pandora’s box for the Marcoses to evade the US courts’ judgment,” Enriquez said.

The human rights organization added that this is not to discriminate on other victims who failed to file and join in the class action suit. “We wish to remind our legislators and the public that the reason we are pushing for a law to indemnify martial law victims, is to finally enforce the Historic Hawaii Class Suit judgement which we won in 1992.” Enriquez declared “The Philippine government required that a law must be made to indemnify martial law victims from the ill-gotten money the Swiss government returned to them in 2003. They should be made a priority.”

Moreover, SELDA reiterated that the bicameral committee members should recognize human rights violations against all Martial Law victims, instead of discriminating against those who opted to take up arms to defend themselves and many others from further human rights violations
inflicted by the dictator.

“It will be the height of historical amnesia and ignorance to only recognize the rights violations against those who ‘peacefully exercised their rights,’ as if the situation during the Martial Law years would permit such exercise. Ang mga nagmartsa ba at pinagtanggol ang sarili sa mga miyembro ng Philippine Constabulary, at yung mga sumali sa New People’s Army ay walang mga karapatan? All those whose rights were violated should be rendered justice,” Enriquez said.

Finally the group reiterated its position to be included in the Human Rights Claim Board: “When Selda filed the now historic class suit vs, Marcos in 1986, we took on the research, interview and gathered documents that were brought to the Hawaii Courts. Many victims became members of Selda and we continue to have chapters in various parts of the country. The help of members in identifying and verifying victims would be valuable in the process once the law is enacted and implemented.” Enriquez ended. ###

Reference:
Marie Hilao-Enriquez
09175616800

Marcos victims bill mired in debate

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.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

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.


Plan to end Marcos wealth hunt angers rights victims

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.

‘SIGN OF IMPUNITY.’ Human rights group Selda said the plan to abolish the PCGG will send the signal that powerful people can commit crimes with immunity. File photo

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


While PCGG proposes to end pursuit of Marcos ill-gotten wealth, martial law victims will not ‘forgive and forget’ the Marcoses

Press Release
January 2, 2012

“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.” Thus said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA in response to the Philippine Commission on Good Government head Andres Bautista’s statement that the PCGG should stop going after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.

Philippine Commission on Good Government head Andres Bautista

“Has the state done enough to say that they have done their best?” Enriquez asked. “What is glaring is every government that sat after the Marcoses have done nothing to gain back the billions of pesos stolen by the dictator, his family and cronies from the coffers of the Philippine government.  What was said in the PDI news that ‘despite numerous criminal and civil cases being filed against them, none of the Marcos heirs or their cronies, who have been accused of plundering government coffers, have so far been successfully prosecuted, while high-powered lawyers have been used to tie up the judicial process for years on end.’ They have only succeeded in entering into compromise deals that has allowed the Marcoses to stay in power.”

Imelda Marcos is representative of Ilocos Norte, Imee is its governor while Bongbong is senator. Both mother and daughter are expected to run in the 2013 elections, while Bongbong is eyeing the presidency in 2016.

“After winning the historic class suit of martial law victims against the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, where he was found guilty of committing human rights abuses against 9,539 individuals who fought the dictatorship, not one among the Marcoses, their henchmen and cronies were put behind bars.” Enriquez lamented.

Selda lamented that the current proposal to stop going after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth is a declaration that the PNoy government has given up on taking on the challenge of even ending the political careers of the Marcoses. “It’s the ill-gotten wealth that’s still with the Marcoses that have allowed them to run, win and stay in power, election after election. This statement is quite alarming as it also says that the governments after the Aquino administration cannot go after it if corruption incidents happen during its incumbency or for any administrations, for that matter. Ano, tutunganga na lang tayo at hahayaan na lang natin ang mga yan na mangunyapit sa pwesto at gastusin ang pera ng bayan para mangurakot muli? (Will we just sit around and watch them cling on to power and use the people’s money to steal again?)” stated Trinidad Herrera, Selda board member.

At the same time, SELDA warned of a quid pro qou now that the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill is set for bicameral committee debates. “A law that will help give reparation to martial law victims is not the be all and end all of our pursuit for justice, it is only a battle won in our lifetime of struggle. It cannot replace what we have always wanted to achieve: to see the Marcoses, their henchmen and cronies account for their transgressions and return all the wealth stolen from the Filipinos back to where it rightfully belongs.” Enriquez declared.

Finally, SELDA promised to continue their struggle for justice for all victims of martial law and the rest of the Filipinos. “If the government has given up that easily, then it is hard for the people to depend on the government to protect the rights of the Filipinos. It’s bad enough that they are declaring to give up on pursuing the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, to leave the Marcoses to maintain status quo is twice as alarming. An omen to us that those in power can take all that they can from the  country’s coffers and blatantly kill and maim those who wish to stop them. Never again must the Filipino people allow that to happen. We must  continue to fight for our rights as a people,”  SELDA members concluded. ###

Reference:
Marie Hilao-Enriquez
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