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
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.
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
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.”
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