We denounce the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento as chair of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB). After prolonging the formation of the HRVCB for almost a year, the Aquino government made a historical affront to the victims by appointing a former member of the Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of the PNP, as head of the Claims Board. It is not only her credentials as former PC officer that is an anathema to the historic struggle against martial law, but her zero track records of any involvement in asserting human rights nor any understanding or knowledge ofthe plights and struggles of martial law victims during and after the dark days of Marcos Dictatorship.
On 13 February 2014, Malacañang announced the formation of the HRVCB a year after the passage of RA 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, a retired 2-star general of the Philippine National Police as chair of the HRVCB. To complete the members of the board, also appointed are Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Byron Bocar, Aurora Parong, Galuasch Ballaho, Jacqueline Mejia, Glenda Litong, Wilfred Asis and Erlinda Senturias.
The PC and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are the main apparatuses of the Marcos dictatorship in implementing the worst of human rights abuses under Martial Law. It is the PC and the AFP that dispersed rallies, “salvaged,” abducted, tortured, arrested and detained thousands of Martial Law activists. Her presence in the Claims Board does not command respect nor confidence in the hearts of the Martial Law victims.
In appointing Gen. Sarmiento, the Aquino government junks altogether the state’s admission of the atrocities and repression used against the Filipino people, the supposed objective of the law. Instead, it promotes into position those who violated the people’s human rights. This is no different from the Pres. Aquino’s appointment of military officials to higher positions under his presidency.
BS Aquino’s Claims Board does not represent the victims of Martial Law. The Aquino government completely disregarded the provision in the law which underlines that members of the HRVCB should have deep knowledge, capacity and experience in defending human rights. Not a single nominee of SELDA, most of them widely known as Martial Law victims and human rights champions, was appointed to the Claims Board. Much to our dismay, CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales and DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima even came to the rescue by saying said that Gen. Sarmiento is qualified for the job.
However the Aquino government justifies it, the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento goes way beyond the issue of qualifications. It is a travesty of justice. It is a conscious effort to discredit and dishonour Martial Law victims. The Aquino government, which has banked on the people’s clamor for justice and change, is trying to push the people’s struggle for justice farther in the sidelines. The appointment of a PC relic to head the claims board is not only considered a grievous insult to the struggle against martial law but a shameless denial of the ideals in asserting freedom and democracy that was highlighted during the first Edsa People Power in 1986.
With its brandishing of human rights violators in the military and the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento, the people who fought the dictatorship cannot expect anything more from the current administration. It is rather just to continue to fight for justice. SELDA demands the immediate recall to Sarmiento’s appointment.
SELDA has formed the People’s Claims Board (PCB).This will be the primary body to stand for the victims of Martial Law. It will ensure that all who suffered atrocities during the Marcos dictatorship shall be recognized and indemnified. The PCB will also ensure that RA 10368 will be implemented. It will formulate an Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) which will be submitted to the HRVCB as basis of the law’s implementation.
The PCB will continue to assert that, based on conclusive presumption, the 2,013 Martial Law victims that were delisted (who were part of the 9,539 members of the class suit against the Marcoses filed in Hawaii in 1986) and thosewho will step forward to make themselves recognized will be rightfully recognized and indemnified.
The PCB is composed of individuals actively in defense of human rights, and were victims themselves. They are Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo; SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez; SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan; former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza; University of the Philippines Prof. Judy Taguiwalo; Dr. Edelina dela Paz; Atty. Kit Enriquez, Atty. Marcos Risonarand Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr.
Martial law victims in the regions of Southern Mindanao, Bicol and Panay launched also similar protest actions to express their grievances on the formation of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.
SELDA will continue to fight for justice for the victims of human rights violations.As long as the perpetrators are in power, and the Aquino government continues to implement the same policy of extrajudicial killings, abduction and enforced disappearances, illegal arrest and detention, torture and the wanton use of martial law tactics against the struggling people, we will continue to stand and assert for justice. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800 Jigs Clamor, SELDA national coordinator, 0917-5965859
Sarmiento, apologist of human rights violators, has no place in the ML victims’ Claims Board – SELDANews Release 18 February 2014
“An apologist of human rights violators has no place in the Martial Law victims’ claims board,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez in protest of the appointment of retired PNP Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.
Enriquez explained that victims of human rights violations do not deserve an unqualified person, much more a representative of State forces, to head what is supposed to be a mechanism to recognize state atrocities during the martial law period.
The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB), according to RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims and Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013, is the body tasked to evaluate and process the application for claims of the martial law victims.
“The appointment of an ex-PC officer to head the Claims Board is honoring the Philippine Constabulary that committed grave atrocities during the Martial Law regime,” Enriquez said.
The defunct Philippine Constabulary is the forerunner of the current Philippine National Police, which along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines implemented “salvages”, illegal arrest, detention, abduction and torture against people who fought the dictatorship.
Aside from being a PC officer under Marcos, Sarmiento was the former head of the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office during the Arroyo regime. “The Macapagal-Arroyo regime had the worst record of human rights violations post-Martial Law. Sarmiento’s position as human rights officer under Arroyo is similarly deplorable,” Enriquez added.
“Pres. Aquino clearly disregards the provisions of the law which enumerated the qualifications of members of the HRVCB. Gen Sarmiento is bereft of credibility, much more, her deep knowledge of martial law atrocities and empathy to the ML victims are questionable being part of the institution accused of rampant human rights abuses,” Enriquez said.
The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013 or RA 10368 states that members of the claims board
- must be of known probity, competence and integrity;
- must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos;
- must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
“We do not see any clear basis for the appointment of Sarmiento; only a conscious effort to discredit and dishonor Martial Law victims. We demand a recall to Sarmiento’s appointment,” Enriquez said.
SELDA formed the People’s Claims Board that will act both as a watchdog and a monitoring body of Aquino’s HRVCB. The priority of the People’s Claims Board is to ensure that real and legitimate martial law victims will not be marginalized.
Members of the People’s Claims Board are former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina dela Paz, Atty. Kit Enriquez and Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
Dennis Carcamo | Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Rights group Selda on Thursday announced it has submitted a list of nominees to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that will evaluate and process the application for claims of the Martial Law victims.
Selda secretary general Angie Ipong said they sent its list of nominees to the Office of the President last March 12.
Selda came up with the list after President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act.
“We are very honored and proud that our nominees possess the qualifications of the members of the Claims Board spelled out in the law,” Ipong said.
Based on the criteria set by the law, the nominees must be of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
Among the nominees include rights group Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela partylist Rep. Liza Maza, Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina De la Paz, lawyers Romeo Candazo, Kit Enriquez, and Dominador Lagare Sr.
“With such sterling names and achievements of our nominees, we are confident that they possess the qualifications required by law and if appointed, the personalities we are submitting for nomintations will do honor and work for the interests of the victims of martial law and see to it that this law will redound to the vicitms’ benefits,” Ipong added.
Selda is the the organization that initiated the class action suit against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
SELDA submits nominees to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board; vows to see to it that R.A. 10368 will be implemented for the interests of the victimsPress Statement
March 14, 2013
SELDA or the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, the organization that initiated the class action suit against former dictator Marcos, sent its list of nominees to the Office of the President on March 12, 2013, for possible inclusion to the Human
Rights Victims Claims Board that will evaluate and process the claims of the human rights violations victims who will file their claim under RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
According to the law, SELDA is one of the five human rights organizations, although not limited to the five named organizations,
that “may submit nominations” for membership in the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that will evaluate and process the application for claims of the martial law victims under the law. SELDA secretary general Angie Ipong asserts, “We are very honored and proud that our nominees possess the qualifications of the members of the Claims Board spelled out in the law; thus, 1) must be of known probity, competence and integrity; 2) must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos; 3) must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy. There is also a provision that stipulates that at least three (3) of the nine (9) must be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least (10) years.”
SELDA’s nominees for the Human Rights Victims Claims Board are the following:
1. Ms. Amaryllis “Marie” Hilao-Enriquez – Marie, Chairperson of both SELDA and Karapatan, is a survivor of martial law. From her student days at the University of the Philippines up to the present, she has remained a staunch human rights defender. Marie, as a prominent leader of SELDA, led the organization of former political prisoners in the filing and proceedings of the class action suit against the former dictator Marcos in the US Federal Court in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the Hawaii class suit. She likewise led the victims and their kin in the active lobby work for the enactment into law of the compensation bill that would indemnify and recognize the victims of martial law. She is a tireless human rights worker in engaging the various mechanisms of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
2. Mr. Bonifacio P. Ilagan – Boni, a multi-awarded writer, was twice arrested (1974 and 1994), tortured, and imprisoned. Boni’s political activism is expressed, among others, through his writings. He is currently the Vice Chairperson of SELDA, one of the mandated organizations under RA 10368 to submit nominations for the Human Rights Claims Board.
3. Former Representative Liza L. Maza – As a member of the House of Representatives for nine years, Liza introduced and advocated for the legislation of a law recognizing and indemnifying victims of Martial Law. Ms. Maza, together with representatives Satur Ocampo and the late Crispin Beltran, filed the bill for victims of martial law, with due consultations with the victims, their relatives and lawyers.
4. Prof. Judy Taguiwalo – Judy teaches at the University of thePhilippines. She heads the Department of Women and Development Studies of the College of Social Work and Community Development. She was a member of the UP Board of Regents from 2009-2010. She is the recipient of an outstanding alumna award from the UP Alumni Association. She was detained twice, in 1973 and in 1984, where she gave birth inside prison. She is a board member of SELDA.
5. Dr. Edelina P. De la Paz – Dr. Delen de la Paz is Associate Professor in the Dept. of Family Medicine at the UP College of Medicine. She is also the Vice Chief of the Social Medicine Unit at the same university. Dr. Delen de la Paz has been involved in various health and human rights related institutions and non-government organizations. She is a respected alumna of the UP College of Medicine.
6. Atty. Romeo D. Candazo – a former political detainee, Atty.Ome Candazo is one of the founding members of SELDA in 1985. He is also a public servant having occupied various executive and legislative positions in the government; he served as a representative of the City of Marikina. He is a journalist, an educator and lecturer at the UP, Ateneo and Maryknoll College. But, first and foremost, Atty. Candazo is a human rights lawyer.
7. Atty. Kit S. Enriquez – Atty. Kit is the President of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Cebu Chapter and a member of the Board of Directors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu from 2005-2011. Atty. Kit was arrested twice during martial law (1972 and 1975) and was heavily tortured by the military.
8. Atty. Dominador A. Lagare, Sr. – hails from General Santos in Mindanao and has been a practicing lawyer since 1973. He was appointed OIC Mayor of General Santos during President Cory Aquino’s time. He has also served General Santos as city councilor for four terms. Atty. Lagare has been doing pro bono work for victims of human rights violations in the General Santos and Saranggani provinces. He teaches labor laws and negotiable instruments at the Mindanao State University.
With such sterling names and achievements of our nominees, we are confident that they possess the qualifications required by law and if appointed, the personalities we are submitting for nomintations will do honor and work for the interests of the victims of martial law and see to it that this law will redound to the vicitms’ benefits,” SELDA secretary general Angie Ipong concluded. She also said that “SELDA’s nominees have been the vocal as well as silent workers behind the campaign for justice for martial law vicitms, components of which are the recognition of the struggle of the vicitims against the dictatorship and the reparation for the sufferings the victims experienced. These are finally realized under the law. We, at SELDA, vow to see to the law’s implementation. ###
Reference: Eliza Tita Lubi, SELDA board member, 434-2837
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
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