Posts tagged “martial law

Statement of SELDA on the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

Press Release
February 25, 2013

Twenty seven long years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, a law confirming the atrocities and human rights violations under martial law is finally signed into law.  The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, welcomes the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

This is another victory of the Martial Law victims in their continuing struggle for justice. Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations. They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.

The struggle was protracted.  The process was agonizing and tedious. Scores of members of the Philippine Congress, in cahoots with the Marcoses and the military who vehemently opposed the passage of the law, tried to block its passing.  In some instances, they deliberately delayed the process or watered down the crafted bill.

Now, with a regime posturing as a “champion of human rights” and trying to score credits for its passage, the law was passed but mainly due to the persistent efforts of the martial law victims themselves.  Tirelessly working hand-in-hand with progressive party-lists and likeminded legislators, the bill was finalized and ratified.  Generally, the law is acceptable to the victims and survivors of martial law.

We take this opportunity to commend and express our gratitude to Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño, who stood with us since the filing of the bill, pursuing the most pro-victim provisions, and consistently pushing, on behalf of the victims, the legislature to finally approve the bill. We also appreciate the support of Senators Chiz Escudero and TG Guingona, and Reps. Edcel Lagman and Erin Tañada.

Here and abroad, we were supported by various peace, justice and human rights advocates in the campaign for the bill’s passage. We extend our solidarity and gratefulness to solidarity groups in the United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland who warmly supported and mobilized in the campaign for the passage of the law, as well as in helping the victims every step of the way. We also thank the members of Parliament of Switzerland as well as its mission in Geneva for lending an ear to the victims’ pleas every time we lobby for their support. Most of all, we commend and deeply thank the members of the peace panel and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who tirelessly asserted, in the process of all peace negotiations with the Philippine government, that the victims of Martial Law should attain justice.

It is with pain and regret for us to witness the passage of this law at a time when many of our fellow victims and colleagues, who took part in the struggle against martial rule, have gone ahead of us. Also, there are still attempts to distort, sometimes even completely erase in the memory of our people, the dark days of the dictatorship. There are those among the architects of martial law who remain scot-free and unpunished. The most notorious culprits have been allowed to regain their political power and influence.

Under the law, the Philippine government is obliged to recognize and give reparation to the victims of human rights violations during martial law. While all the sacrifices and heroism of the Filipino people during martial law is priceless, we see these both as an affirmation to the people who struggle for justice, and as a warning to those who will continue to impose fascism and terror upon the Filipino people.

We dedicate this small victory to all martial law martyrs and heroes who have gone before us. We will continue to honor them, as we ensure that this law shall be implemented to the best interest of the victims and the Filipino people who survived martial law.

We may be jubilant, but we continue to watch with vigilance. To fully ensure that the law will serve the rightful victims and claimants, we will try to make sure that the HRV Victims Claims Board shall be composed of individuals who, in one way or another, know and can feel with the victims and have been involved in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

We take cognizance that SELDA is part of the recommending entities to the Claims Board. We challenge the administration to appoint nominees of SELDA despite some government officials’ bias given SELDA’s political stands.

Also, it should be ensured that those who are included in the master list of the 9,539 victims and those who will consequently file their claims are those who were genuinely part of the struggle against martial law. We should guard against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams which will deprive the victims of just indemnification.

We should also take the opportunity to make the younger generation learn, understand and take on the challenge of having the same daring, vigilance, militancy and commitment to justice and human rights.

It has been 40 years after martial law but human rights violations continue to be committed, and with impunity. There has not been much change except for the worse under the dispensations that succeeded the U.S.-Marcos regime. The Marcos laws and executive orders were retained by the succeeding administrations.  The militarist mindset and fascist machinery remain intact especially with the continuous implementation of the US-backed counter-insurgency programs

As long as human rights violations continue, with or without martial law, we stand with the people for justice, democracy and human rights. NEVER AGAIN will we allow the enemies of the people to perpetuate the same injustices, oppression and exploitation against the majority of the Filipino people.  ###

References:
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-561-6800

SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan proudly represented the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law, at the 27th People Power Anniversary gathering at EDSA. In a speech delivered at People Power Monument, Ilagan said that the law is meaningful – beyond the monetary compensation, it is a step in keeping the memory etched in our nation’s history. Now known as the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 is a victory and a tribute for the people who fought the dictatorship. It is a product of a decade-long struggle of the victims, a testimony of the struggle in society, and the people’s historic task to end the prevailing culture of impunity.

Justice, freedom and democracy are not served on a silver platter – these are fought for. Hear the victims-heroes of Martial Law – NEVER AGAIN!

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No change, impunity prevails under Aquino—Karapatan

Press Release | Karapatan.org
February 25, 2013

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

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

SELDA warns ML victims: Beware of scams

Rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) warned martial law victims of possible scams in the process of their application for compensation for human rights victims.

“We call on all martial law victims to be wary of persons who ask for money for processing their claims,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

Enriquez said their organization issues this warning after receiving reports that some victims were approached by people who asked for personal information and for processing fee for their claims.

Victims of human rights violations under  martial law are entitled to a compensation after the bicameral session of the Senate and Lower Houses signed the final version of the  martial law victims indemnification bill, now called the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Pres. Noynoy Aquino is said to sign the bill into law on February 25, the anniversary of EDSA People Power.

According to Enriquez, a friend from the media forwarded her an e-mail from a concerned citizen who raised concern on the possibility of a scam.  According to the e-mail, individuals in Marawi City,  some of them teachers, were “recruited” to attend a seminar in Davao City as  martial law victims. They were allegedly asked to give P3,000 each, and were told that they will receive a million pesos if they attend the seminar. SELDA is currently verifying the said report.

“We are advising everybody not to fall prey to these culprits. We have fought for justice this long. We should ensure that the compensation, however small, shall be received by the rightful recipients,” Enriquez said.

SELDA also received a report from its local chapter in Concepcion, Tarlac that two SELDA members, both teachers in an elementary school who are tasked to encode documents of claimants in their town, were approached by a certain Gerry Caloza. He told them that he is from the Office of the President, and asked all sorts of question about their documentation work. Caloza cannot give any clear reason why he was interested with the information on the victims.

Martial law victims in Bataan, meanwhile, were approached by persons identifying themselves as members of a certain Bullion group, who told them they will receive millions in claims. The victims immediately informed Selda of the report.

Enriquez said it will be most safe and secure for the victims to contact SELDA, one of the organizations recognized under the Human
Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 to identify victims and help process the claims.

SELDA was the lead organization in the historic filing of the class suit against the Marcoses in 1986, and has regional chapters
nationwide which may help identify victims who may receive claims.

Enriquez also said their apprehensions are not baseless since there was a case on fake claimants discovered last year.

In November 2011, Edward and Marlyn Santiago, along with six others, were charged with estafa after the Criminal Investigation and
Detection Group (CIDG) found out attempts by some individuals to encash checks named after legitimate victims using fake IDs. The
Santiago couple is suspected to be recruiting persons to claim checks under the name of legitimate claimants.

For more information on the compensation for Martial Law victims, please contact SELDA at (632) 434-2837 or 0917-596-5859 . ###

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

Getting their due

Carol P. Araullo |Streetwise | Business World

THE PASSAGE of the landmark Marcos human rights victims compensation bill or the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013” is a most welcome development even if reservations persist about how it will be implemented, once signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III, to the satisfaction of the victims themselves.

Finally, here is official recognition that the Marcos regime was a brutal and repressive regime imposed upon the Filipino people via the declaration of martial law that was nothing less than a craftily disguised Palace coup d’ état.

The principal characters who jointly perpetrated and benefitted from the blood-soaked and kleptocratic regime such as the other half of the Conjugal Dictatorship, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, martial law administrator Juan Ponce-Enrile, and businessman and now presidential uncle, Danding Cojuangco, wish to wash their hands of their complicity or even try to rewrite history.

To a certain extent they have been able to do just that by virtue of their ill-gotten wealth, their undeserved positions in government, as well as their reinstatement in high society circles after being considered, fleetingly, as social pariahs.

But the existence of tens of thousands of victims subjected to gross violations of their human rights such as extrajudicial killing, forced disappearance, torture and prolonged, unjust detention in subhuman conditions belies any attempt to justify or prettify Marcos’ martial rule.

It is to the credit of these victims, their bona fide organization, SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) that filed the original class action suit against the Marcos estate in 1986 in the US Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii and won for its 9,539 members an award of $2 Billion in 1995, and the human rights defenders and political activists who refuse to allow the lessons of martial law to be forgotten, that the Marcos compensation bill has come this far.

It has been 41 years and many of the victims are either dead or old and ill, and their families destitute. They are more than deserving of this token reparation and that their names be inscribed in a “Roll of Victims” to be part of the “Memorial/Museum/Library” that will be set up to honor them.

Unfortunately the bill says very little about what else aside from the martial law atrocities and the victims’ heroism that will be memorialized.

Pres. Aquino is reported to have remarked in connection with the compensation bill that the martial law era was an “aberrant period,” “a nightmare that happened to the Filipino nation” and that it should be written down with formality “so that we can be sure that this would not happen again in the future.”

For their part educators and historians have decried how the martial law era is treated perfunctorily if not sketchily in the textbooks used in our public schools so that its whys and wherefores are lost on the younger generation.

While Marcos’s ambition, cunning, puppetry and greed were among the main ingredients in the setting up of the dictatorship, this did not take place in a vacuum. Rather, Marcos imposed martial rule in the midst of an acute crisis in a chronically crisis-ridden social system weighed down by poverty, maldevelopment, social injustice and neocolonial domination.

It was his scheme to tamp down the crisis by eliminating all opposition and thus monopolize the spoils of elite rule and perpetuate himself in power with the blessings of the US. How many know about the complex reasons behind the political imprimatur and economic backing provided by the United States government to Marcos’s one-man rule, only to drop the favored dictator like a hot potato and embrace his successor, Mrs. Corazon Aquino, some 14 years later.

Marcos was overthrown but the reactionary system still exploits and oppresses the Filipino people. State fascism and concomitant human rights violations are not mere aberrations but are well entrenched in this system so that impunity for human rights violations still reigns.

Glossy, coffee table books on the EDSA “people power” uprising give more than ample coverage of the roles of Senator Ninoy Aquino’s widow “Cory,” Cardinal Sin, General Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce-Enrile and other personalities in toppling the dictatorship but they provide only snapshots, at biased angles, and not a continuing account of the people’s history of resistance as it unfolded from the moment Marcos declared martial law in 1972.

The defiant call “Never again (to martial law)!” can easily be rendered meaningless when the complete context — socioeconomic and political — as well as the specific historical facts and circumstances that gave rise to and propped up Marcos’ authoritarian rule are not rigorously documented and objectively analyzed.

Indeed, the untold stories of how the Filipino people, especially the masses of peasants, workers and other urban poor, struggled against the dictatorship must be collected and retold in such a way that the martial law era will be remembered as one of resistance and not submission or even “victimization.”

There should not be any discrimination against those who took the path of armed revolutionary struggle against the fascist dictatorship since this form of struggle contributed significantly to its weakening and eventual overthrow not to mention that most of these revolutionaries paid the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the process.

In the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) inked between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines), Articles 4 and 5 provide for indemnification to victims of human rights violations, citing in particular the need to compensate victims under the Marcos regime. In the many sessions of the GRP-NDFP peace talks (both formal and informal) the NDFP peace panel had consistently and persistently raised the issue with their GRP counterpart.

The GRP appeared to have acknowledged the justness of this demand by eventually signing CARHRIHL that provides for it. But the actual indemnification did not materialize evidently due to the Arroyo regime’s machinations. Now it remains to be seen, assuming Pres. Aquino will sign the bill into law, whether the martial law human rights victims will finally get what is due them.


Martial law victims to get P500k each: solon

David Dizon | ABS-CBNnews.com

Coming soon: Martial Law Memorial a la Holocaust

MANILA – Victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos will get an estimated P500,000 each with the passage of the Marcos Compensation Bill.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a member of the bicameral conference committee, said the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2012 is the result of years of work to properly indemnify victims of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.

“It is beyond compensation but reparation and recognition for the human rights victims during martial law. It is not a big sum of money now pero malaking tulong pa rin sa mga matatanda nang victims,” he told radio dzMM.

Under the law, those qualified to receive compensation are victims of human rights violations committed from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. Compensation will come from funds amounting to P10 billion transferred to the Bureau of Treasury through the order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997.

The new law states a Human Rights Claims Board will be created to determine people qualified to get compensation.

Colmenares said the board will create the internal rules and regulations that will detail the process of recognition, compensation and reparation.

He said groups such as SELDA and Task Force Detainees can nominate human rights advocates “with deep understanding of the human rights situation during martial law” to join the board.

Representatives from the National Historical Institute, the Commission on Human Rights, and the University of the Philippines Main Library could also join the board, he said.

“It is a combination of agencies with historical and human rights mandates,” he said.

 

2 years to distribute compensation

Colmenares said there will be 2 groups of claimants for compensation. The first group is composed of 9,539 victims in the Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses.

The new law states that the Hawaii complainants are presumed victims of martial law abuses and would no longer have to prove their claims for compensation.

The second group, Colmenares said, will include individuals not included in the Hawaii class action suit.

He said that once the board is set up, there will be an information campaign to allow possible claimants to apply within the 6-month period.

Claimants will also be screened by the board. A point system will be followed in determining the amount that each victim or their kin will receive, with those tortured or killed getting a higher compensation than those harassed or economically disadvantaged during martial law.

Colmenares said the board will then have 2 years to finish the process of compensation.

“Tinaningan na. Dapat in 2 years, they must get it in 2 years. We can actually give compensation to the Hawaii claimants in the first year. It is a maximum of 2 years,” he said.

 

Martial Law Memorial

The lawmaker said the law also establishes a Martial Law Memorial where the names of all victims of human rights violations will be enshrined.

“It was in the Senate version. In fact, ang narinig ko it will be equal to the Holocaust Musem. It will contain memorabilia, stories at kung ano pa mang bagay that will give us an idea on what happened during Martial Law. And, of course, the role of the victims, yung mga pangalan nila ilalagay duon sa memorial na yan,” he said.

Colmenares said he has already asked Education Secretary Armin Luistro about including the teaching of martial law in the school curriculum. He noted that in some textbooks, discussion about martial law is reduced to a single page and equates the period to land reform.

The lawmaker said the memorial and proper education will help the next generation understand the lessons of martial law.

“It brings back the experience of martial law and hopefully, the lessons will be inculcated
They need the real picture of what happened during martial law,” he said.

He also said he is disappointed that not one member of the Marcos family went to jail despite the crimes committed during martial law.

“Nagiging hungkag ang call na ‘Never again to martial law’ kasi parang walang lesson learned, walang accountability,” he said.

He noted that one good thing that came out after the 1986 EDSA Revolution is that the entire world recognizes Ferdinand Marcos as a dictator.

“Kami naman sa Bayan Muna, we will really work hard na hindi maulit ang apelyidong yan (Marcos) sa panguluhan,” he said.

 

Bongbong hands off

Meantime, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said his family already has nothing to do with granting reparations for victims of human rights human rights violations during the regime of his father.

A day after the Senate ratified a measure giving compensation to martial law victims, Marcos said the issue is only between human rights claimants and the government, which now possesses the money confiscated from his family.

“The judgments have been made against us and our position has been very clear. The government has confiscated the assets, so it’s up to the government to now dispose of them as they see fit,” he said.

Marcos added that from the very start, he was never involved in discussions on the bill.

“I just recused myself from the discussions because I cannot be seen ever to be objective about the subject,” he said.


Martial Law victims denounce PCGG chair’s declaration to give up claims

“Malicious, irresponsible and anti-people” 

Amid the good news of the ratification of the bill to compesante martial law victims, members of the human rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) deplored the “malicious, irresponsible and anti-people” statements made by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista over the weekend that the martial law victims should consider giving up their claims in the class suit filed in Hawaii, now that a bill to give compensation to human rights victims is set to be enacted into law.

“We are exasperated, disappointed and angry at such malicious and irresponsible statements made by PCGG chair Andres Bautista. Why should we give up the claims when the award is based on the judgement that the Marcos dictatorship is guilty of crimes against humanity, and therefore the Marcoses are accountable for the human rights violations committed under their reign?” said Martial Law victim and SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

Enriquez also said that the Hawaii court judgment is final and executory.

“The victims are happy that this has become a landmark decision for victims of human rights violations the world over.  The entire Filipino nation must be proud of that and now Mr. Bautista is again squandering the chance to go after the violators! We have never heard of any public apology from the Marcoses after so many years, now Bautista is telling us to give up this meager amount to compensate the victims?” she said.

On September 22, 1992, the Hawaii Federal Court through Judge Manuel Real, issued a judgment on the class suit in favor of the Marcos victims. The said decision found Marcos guilty of gross human rights violations and the Estate of Marcos is liable to pay damages to the victims.

SELDA’s chairperson explained that the bill’s passage here in the legislative halls of the country is entirely different from the class suit that the 9,539 Martial Law victims filed in a Hawaii district court after the fall of Marcos in 1986.

“Bautista does not know what he is talking about. The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Bill, when enacted into law, will be the government’s mechanism to give recognition and reparation to victims of Martial Law. Since the fall of the dictator in 1986, the victims waited for the administrations after Marcos to go after the conjugal dictatorship and their cohorts, and make them accountable for the HRV’s committed during martial law.  But no one did. The victims were the only ones who braved the systems, the Marcos maneuvers, the machinations of American and Filipino lawyers who supposedly helped the victims. It was they who fought steadfastly until they won a landmark case in a foreign court. Now it is being robbed again from them, “ Enriquez declared.

The group also called Bautista “anti-people,” in reacton to his statement that ill-gotten wealth by the Marcoses belong to the Filipino people.

“Bautista talks as if we are not part of the Filipino people who fought the dictator. The Swiss Supreme Court was clear in its order that the victims of Martial Law who filed charges against Marcos in the Hawaiian court must be considered by the Philippine government once the latter moves the recovered funds that were in an escrow account,” she said.

Enriquez also clarified that only one-third of the original total funds transferred from Switzerland and handed over to the Philippine government were asked by the victims as they fully know that the amount was gotten from the national coffers.

In 2003, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that the funds transferred from Switzerland are ill-gotten and must therefore be handed over to the Philippine Government, confirming the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s decision concerning the illegitimate origin of the funds. The government alleged that all recovered ill-gotten money would be used for agrarian reform.

“In fact, it is we who should be asking the government where has the two-thirds of the funds gone, amid reports that funds that were supposedly funnelled to the National Treasury for General Appropriations were malversed in the fertilizer fund scam,” Enriquez added.

The group casted doubts on the motive behind the PCGG’s “bashing” of the victims, especially that the ratification of the final bicameral version of the bill is slated for today.

“First, they proposed the abolition of the PCGG. Next, Bautista is messing up with the issue. It is malicious and doubtful that this is being raised at this time. Are they trying to stop the full implementation of the bill? Or are negotiations and compromises of the Aquino government with the Marcoses under way?” asked Enriquez.

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

Gov’t set to recognize victims of Marcos rule

Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 29, 2013

Almost four decades after he was arrested and tortured and his sister disappeared into a maze of Philippine police cells and military houses, playwright Bonifacio Ilagan is finally seeing his suffering officially recognized.

A writer for an underground communist newspaper, Ilagan and thousands like him were rounded up by security forces of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos  after he placed the Philippines under martial law in 1972. Detentions, beatings, harassment and killings of the regime’s opponents continued until Marcos was toppled in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Even though democracy was restored, it would take another 27 years for Congress to vote on a bill awarding compensation and recognition to martial law victims.

On Monday, the House of  Representatives and the Senate ratified the bill after the bicameral committee earlier in the day signed the final version of the bill following some last-minute polishing.

President Aquino is expected to sign the bill into law shortly, possibly before the anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos.

“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,” said a statement from Selda, an organization of former political prisoners.

Ilagan’s story is more of a rule than exception among leftist activists of his generation.

“The torture started in the house. We were beaten up, punched and kicked,” he said, recalling a police raid on his residence in April 1974 and the beginning of his two-year detention ordeal.

He said he vomited blood after being kicked in the thighs. The soles of his foot had been  burned by an iron, he added.

“The one episode in my torture that I cannot forget was when they ordered me to remove my pants and underwear and they inserted a piece of stick into my penis. ‘Oh my God,’ I said, this is one torture I could not bear,”’ the 61-year-old said in an interview.

He said that interrogators wanted him to decode documents and identify people in pictures that were seized from suspected communists.

Bonifacio Ilagan or ‘Boni’ at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani where Rizalina’s name was included on the long list of martyrs during the martial law

“Compared to others, mine was not the worst torture,” he said. “The others were electrocuted and injected with truth serum. … But the threats continued.”

Ilagan’s sister, Rizalina, disappeared in 1976 along with nine other activists, many of them students involved in anti-Marcos publications, he said.

One of the women arrested by the same government unit that he suspected was involved in his sister’s abduction had escaped to recount her rape and torture. Ilagan said he has no doubt that his sister went through the same abuses.

His parents died still hoping his sister would turn up alive, but the family has found no closure, Ilagan said.

No convictions

Despite cases filed by former political prisoners, “there have been no convictions of perpetrators,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda, said Monday.

“Governments after Marcos did not move or did not do anything to go after Marcos seriously, so we filed a case in Hawaii,” Enriquez said.

In 1992, the victims won a class action suit against the Marcos estate in Hawaii.

Under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the 9,539 victims in the Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses will be awarded compensation using $246 million, roughly P10 billion, that the government recovered from Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth deposited in Swiss bank accounts.

The bill states that these plaintiffs would be presumed victims of martial law abuses, which means they would no longer have to prove their claims for compensation.

Also to be conclusively recognized as Marcos victims are those in the list of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani foundation.

The amount each will receive will depend on the abuse suffered.

Never again

Loretta Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said her agency was looking at around 6,000 cases of abuses during the Marcos years. If there are two victims for each case, there could be 12,000 more claimants eligible for compensation, she said.

“Finally, over two decades after the fall of the dictatorship, we will have a law that puts the responsibility of human rights abuses square on the shoulder of Marcos and provides justice for all those who suffered under his reign,” said Rep. Walden Bello, a member of a congressional committee that drafted and approved the bill.

“This bill should make us realize that never again should we allow (the atrocities) of the Marcos regime to happen in this country,” Sen. Francis Escudero said after the Senate ratified the 16-page bicameral report.

“After  25 years, I really hope that the Marcos compensation bill would be signed in time for the Edsa One celebration,” the senator said.

Escudero noted that many of the victims of martial rule were more interested in being recognized and listed in the Roll of Victims than in receiving reparation, citing Sen. Joker Arroyo.

There would be cases when the Human Rights Claim Board itself would recognize unilaterally a martial law victim and put his name in the roll even if he does not apply for recognition, he added. With reports from Associated Press, Leila B. Salaverria and Cathy C. Yamsuan

Philippine dictatorship victims to be compensated

By TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press
Updated 9:00 pm, Monday, January 28, 2013

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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.


Update: 3rd Bicameral hearing on Marcos victims’ compensation bill

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 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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SELDA to bicam: “Finish work” on next meeting

News Release
January 17, 2013

“Conclusive presumption”  asserted by victims

SELDA to bicam: “Finish work” on next meeting

Appealing to members of the bicameral conference committee to “finish their work” on January 23, Martial Law victims urged both members of the Lower House and Senate to stand by the “conclusive presumption” provision in the final version of the Marcos victims compensation bill.

“By then, we hope that the bicameral meeting will finish all the work, and ensure that the bill is passed and legitimate victims are recognized as such. Any more moves to counter what has been approved by the House by the duplicitous play of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello should be stopped and condemned,” SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.

SELDA, the human rights organization who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses in 1986, asserted that the 9,539 victims should be recognized as legitimate victims under “conclusive presumption,” contrary to the “disputable presumption” pushed by Bello.

“The Hawaii class suit has been recognized as a landmark judgment, but why do Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and even CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales the first to cast doubts on the victims. These are essentially one and the same with the argument of the Marcoses, who disputed in Hawaii the legitimacy of the victims of human rights violations,” Enriquez asked.

She added that the victims took the risks of filing charges against the Marcoses for justice and indemnification, and have went through the rigorous and painful process of retelling the accounts of their arrest, detention and torture and of their colleagues. “And now these people want them to prove again, after 40 years, that they are victims? This is not only undermining history, this is a grave insult to them,” Enriquez said.  ###

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

Quote

Updates: 2nd Bicam Conference Committee Meeting on Indem Bill

Katatapos lamang ng bicameral conference committee meeting sa House of Representatives kaugnay ng Marcos victims compensation bill. Sa pangalawang pagpupulong, umani ng tagumpay ang mga biktima ng Batas Militar sa pagpapasok ng mga mahahalagang probisyon sa pinal na bersyon ng panukalang batas:

1.       Kasama ang SELDA at Karapatan sa consultative body na bubuuin kung paano ipoproseso ang claims ng mga biktima. Nanatili namang bahagi ang SELDA ng nominations committee na magtutukoy kung sino ang lehitimong biktima o hindi. Samantala, hindi nakasama dito ang Karapatan at Claimants 1081.

2.       Tinanggal na ang “peaceful means” sa pinal na bersyon ng panukalang batas. Sa madaling salita, kinikilala nito ang sinumang lehitimong biktima, anuman ang naging porma ng kanyang naging paglaban sa panahon ng diktadura.

Binabati namin ang mga kasapi ng bicameral conference committee sa kanilang pagtindig para sa biktima, gaya nina Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Sen. Chiz Escudero at iba pa. Umaasa kaming patuloy silang titindig sa mga natitira pang agenda sa bicameral conference pabor sa mga biktima ng Batas Militar na matagal nang ipinaglalaban ang hustisya.

Ang susunod na pagpupulong ay nakatakda sa Miyerkules, Enero 23. Ang natitirang contentious na isyu ay ang usapin ng “conclusive presumption,” kontra sa “disputable presumption” na tinututulan ng mga biktima ng Batas Militar.

Iginigiit ng SELDA na ang mga biktima na nagsampa ng class action suit laban sa mga Marcos ay dapat kilalanin bilang mga lehitimong biktima sa ilalim ng “conclusive presumption,” sa halip na muli silang isalang sa proseso ng pagkilala at pagpapatunay na sila ay tunay ngang mga biktima.

Hustisya sa mga biktima ng Martial Law! Ipasa ang Marcos Victims Compensation Bill!

Download Selda_position_paper_for bicam


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

Martial Law activists challenge Senate, Aquino: Pass Indemnification Bill on or before December 10

News Release
November 14, 2012

Martial law activists led by SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) on Wednesday challenged the Senate and the Aquino government to pass the indemnification bill for Martial Law victims on or before December 10, International Human Rights Day.

“Just do it and pass the bill,” said Martial Law activist and SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez. “Statements here and there by our honorable senators and the President stating that the bill will be passed are all well and good, but we need all of you to ACT NOW and pass the bill into a law!,” Enriquez said.

Wearing shirts that say “Pass the Indemnification Bill Now!” some 20 leaders and members of SELDA trooped to the Senate session hall and dared to seek audience with the senators even if Senate 2615, also known as The Human Rights Victims Compensation Act of 2011, is not in the agenda of the plenary session.

The bill, if approved, shall provide compensation for thousands of victims of Martial Law. According to Enriquez, indeminification is an admission and acknowledgment that the Marcos dictatorship committed grave violations of human rights against the Filipino people. They also believe that the recognition which Martial Law victims are entitled to is already “beyond justification.”

“PNoy and our honorable senators still have 26 days until December 10 to make good their promise to the Swiss President and the international commuity.  We hope that the Executive and the Senate get their acts together and stop using us to deodorize their image among nations that they are now reformed politicians who respect human rights,” Enriquez said.

According to Enriquez, there are three points which they are continuously lobbying to be included in the bill: 1) the acknowledgment of the 9,539 victims who filed the historic class suit against the Marcoses in Hawaii, therefore recognizing the State’s legal and moral obligation to them; 2)  the removal of the clause which consider legitimate victims of human rights violations as only those who “peacefully” exercised their civil and political rights during martial law; and, 3) the inclusion of SELDA as one of the organizations that represent and facilitate services for the victims.

“These points are crucial for justice and recognition if we are to say that this bill shall truly represent the plight of the victims,” said Enriquez.

SELDA said the indemnification bill will be one of the main issues which they will carry on until December 10, as well as towards the upcoming elections in 2013.

“We will know who among national candidates have a basic sense of  redress and justice. The candidates’ action for the passage of the indemnification bill will serve as a parameter for us who are victims and survivors,” Enriquez said. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-561-6800

After passage of Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, martial law victims call for passage of Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill

Press Statement
22 October 2012

We welcome the approval of the anti-enforced disappearance bill by a bi-cameral session of the Senate and House of Representatives. It is high time that a law criminalizing the practice of enforced disappearance be enforced.

Martial law activist Rizalina Ilagan, a student leader from the University of the Philippines – Los Baños, was disappeared in 1977, together with nine other students and professors from the same University. They were later called the Southern Tagalog 10. Three were surfaced dead, while the rest were never found.

Victims of the dictatorship were vindicated when they won the now historic class suit in 1992 against Ferdinand Marcos. The Hawaii Appellate Court found Marcos guilty of human rights violations against 9,539 victims, among them some 1,000 victims of enforced disappearance. Yet, the military perpetrators, least of all Marcos, was not punished for their crimes.  Once enacted into law, the anti-enforced disappearance bill will allow us to hold responsible the perpetrators of enforced disappearance of activists.

The Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill provides no prescription period for the crime, unless the victim has surfaced. The perpetrators of involuntary disappearance could be prosecuted no matter how much time has passed since the incident. Moreover, the bill recognizes command responsibility, which means a superior officer would also be culpable for the actions of his subordinates.

However, we are still struggling to claim justice with yet another bill pending in the Senate. The Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill still has to be finalized by the Senate. Just like the Anti-Enforced Disappearance, this is long overdue

Selda has consistently urged the Aquino government to expedite the compensation bill of martial law victims. President Aquino should not waste any more time in enacting this bill into law. Its implementation, together with the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, will add to our efforts at gaining justice for our loved ones, especially those who were disappeared during martial law. ###

Reference:
Bonifacio Ilagan (09176291241)
Vice Chairperson
SELDA

Martial law victims seek compensation

MANILA, Philippines – Martial law victims led by the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) challenged Malacañang to enact the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill into law in commemoration of the 40th year of the imposition of Martial Law.

Martial law victim Rody del Rosario said he was a victim of warrantless arrest during the Marcos regime and stayed in jail for 2 years.

He said that after 40 years, it is high time that the government recognizes the hardships suffered by victims of martial law.

ABS-CBN Umagang Kay Ganda, Sept. 21, 2012


We are twice victims of injustice — Martial Law victims

PRESS RELEASE

Injustice persists from martial law to Noynoy Aquino

We are twice victims of injustice — Martial Law victims

On the eve of the 40th year of the imposition of martial law, victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship pressed on their fight for justice and indemnification as they rallied once more at the foot of the historic Mendiola Bridge.

“We fought for justice under the dictatorship yet, 40 years later we are still victims of injustice,” Bonifacio Ilagan, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA said. “Many of our colleagues sacrificed their lives in the hope that one day they will see their countrymen free from want and fear.”

Ilagan pointed out that, “many of our colleagues were killed, disappeared, tortured and jailed, but after filing and winning the landmark human rights violations case vs. Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii, those who were responsible for these atrocities have not been punished. Worse, they are back in power.”

Martial law activists have pushed for the passage for the indemnification bill since 1998.They lambasted President Aquino for “sitting on the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill.” The human rights group expected more from the current administration, saying that “Noynoy, the son of a martial law victim should deliver justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable for the crimes committed against thousands of Filipinos. But, the Marcos’ Victims Compensation Bill is again in for a tough ride.”

Senator Chiz Escudero has, on many occasion, said that the report by Committee on Justice and Human is ready for the plenary debates. “We have received the same reply for the longest time. Is the government serious about this? Or are the senators intimidated by the presence of a Marcos in the Senate,” Ilagan asked.

SELDA is also apprehensive with some of the provisions in the bill that they believe do not reflect the interests of the ML victims. Thus, it reiterated its earlier position, among others, the recognition of all 9,539 victims and class suit plaintiffs who won the case against Marcos both in the US and in the Swiss courts.

SELDA members believe that the passage of the indemnification bill into a law is a step towards justice, “not so much for the compensation but more importantly, the recognition that injustice was committed to thousands of people during martial law. This should serve both as a reminder and a warning to all the administrations that people will not take injustice blindly. As proven in our recent past, there are many other avenues to pursue justice,” said Ilagan.

“We have no material wealth to pass on to our children and families. But so long as oppression and exploitation remain, this undying fervor to struggle for what is right and just will be our legacy to them and to the Filipino youth. Tuloy ang Laban! (The struggle lives on!)”  they concluded. ###

Reference: Bonifacio Ilagan, Vice-Chairperson (09176291241)

“Enough is Enough, indemnify ML victims now!” – Selda

Press Release
September 3, 2012
 

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: injustice continues

“Enough is Enough, indemnify ML victims now!” – Selda

Former martial law activists brought their demands for justice and indemnification at the Mendiola Bridge today as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial law this month.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) lambasted the Noynoy Aquino government’s negligence that resulted to unmonitored withdrawals from Imelda Marcos’ account at the Philippine Veterans Bank. The P36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten money under Imelda Marcos’ name is now only a little over P1M despite the garnishment order by the Sandiganbayan. Earlier in August, the ML victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court ruled to award the $23Million Marcos ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank. Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino hear and know that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice, “ Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson said.

According to the group, impunity still reigns after decades of struggling for justice. “After overthrowing Marcos, we filed and won the now historic Hawaii class suit for victims of martial law” Enriquez said, “But even under the present “matuwid na daan” of Noynoy Aquino, we continue to suffer from injustice.”

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure,” Enriquez stated, “When are we going see this administration seriously work for the justice that we, survivors of that dark regime, truly deserve?”

Furthermore, the human rights group deplored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate “Inaamag na ata ito sa Senado,” (It probably has grown mold at the Senate) said Trinidad Herrera, SELDA board member and also a survivor of the dictatorship. The group proceeded to the Senate from Mendiola for a noise barrage. “Our senators should remember that they owe us a law that should have been implemented by now. What are they waiting for, another 40 years?”

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that they are still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary. The bill was first filed in 1997 and has never been signed into law up to the present even as Noynoy Aquino rants about being a victim of martial law.

“We are not pawns that the government can use for their electoral campaign,” Trinidad continued, “The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election.”

Selda also stated that while September marks the 40 years of the imposition of martial law, they have nothing to celebrate.  “We are not here to commemorate the imposition of martial law, we are still here because the governments that succeeded the dictatorship failed to bring justice, end human rights violations and impunity. We continue to fight until we achieve justice. From martial law to Noynoy Aquino, our brand of activism lives on.” Enriquez concluded. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson (09175616800)

Trinidad Herrera, Board Member (09155443181)

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Indemnify martial law victims now – group

Remate Online

FORMER martial law activists launched a protest actions at the Mendiola Bridge today to demand for justice and indemnification as the country marks the 40th year of the imposition of martial law this month.

Members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) lambasted the Aquino government’s negligence that resulted to unmonitored withdrawals from Imelda Marcos’ account at the Philippine Veterans Bank.

The P36.55 million Marcos ill-gotten money under Imelda Marcos’ name is now only a little over P1M despite the garnishment order by the Sandiganbayan. Earlier in August, the ML victims suffered another setback after the Singapore Court ruled to award the $23Million Marcos ill-gotten wealth to the Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank. Tan is a known Marcos crony.

“We take on Mendiola once again just like 40 years ago so that the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino hear and know that we are still here and that 40 is not just a number to remember but also a reminder of the length of time we have been fighting impunity and for the attainment of justice, “ Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson said.

According to the group, impunity still reigns after decades of struggling for justice. “After overthrowing Marcos, we filed and won the now historic Hawaii class suit for victims of martial law” Enriquez said, “But even under the present “matuwid na daan” of Noynoy Aquino, we continue to suffer from injustice.”

“All we get from the Aquino government are reports of failure after failure,” Enriquez stated, “When are we going see this administration seriously work for the justice that we, survivors of that dark regime, truly deserve?”

Furthermore, the human rights group deplored the state of the indemnification bill at the Senate .

“Inaamag na ata ito sa Senado,” (It probably has grown mold at the Senate) said Trinidad Herrera, SELDA board member and also a survivor of the dictatorship.

The group will proceed to the Senate from Mendiola for a noise barrage. “Our senators should remember that they owe us a law that should have been implemented by now. What are they waiting for, another 40 years?”

The Senate Committee on Human Rights reported that they are still completing the signatories to the bill before bringing it to the plenary. The bill was first filed in 1997 and has never been signed into law up to the present even as Noynoy Aquino rants about being a victim of martial law.

“We are not pawns that the government can use for their electoral campaign,” Trinidad continued, “The bill must be passed for the indemnification of victims and not as a publicity tool to enhance the image of those eyeing re-election.”

The group also stated that while September marks the 40 years of the imposition of martial law, they have nothing to celebrate.  “We are not here to commemorate the imposition of martial law, we are still here because the governments that succeeded the dictatorship failed to bring justice, end human rights violations and impunity. We continue to fight until we achieve justice. From martial law to Noynoy Aquino, our brand of activism lives on,” Enriquez said.