“Empty celebration” as long as reparation for and recognition of Martial Law victims remain lip serviceNews Release 15 August 2013
SELDA on the grandiose preparation to commemorate Ninoy’s anniversary
“Empty celebration” as long as reparation for and recognition of Martial Law victims remain lip service
Rights group SELDA said the upcoming activities commemorating the assasination of former Sen. Ninoy Aquino will remain as “empty celebrations” as long as the reparation and recognition for Martial Law victims remain as lip service and unimplemented by the Noynoy Aquino administration.
“We remember the death of Ninoy as one that might have triggered the final push to oust the dictator; but years before his assassination, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who were lesser known than Ninoy, have sacrificed their lives to fight against the tyrannical rule of the dictator. Like Ninoy, they deserve to be recognized, their deeds made known to a nation grateful for its heroes. August 21 is one of those times we can remember them together with Ninoy, yet after a long, hard, even lonely struggle, the law that was supposed to do this – the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Law, finally signed by President Noynoy Aquino on February 25, 2013, has not been implemented up till now,” SELDA chairpeson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.
The group described the non-formation of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board as stipulated in the law, as “mockery” to the victims who painstakingly demanded reparation and recognition for decades now.
“Now that another commemoration of Ninoy’s assasination is to be observed again we can only feel insulted at how the Aquino government will throw out festivities once more. This, while the thousands of heroes of Martial Law are painfully waiting for the formation of the claims board, the first and most basic step in the implementation of the law,” Enriquez said.
The Claims Board, the primary body that will evaluate and recognize the victims of the Marcos dictatorship is yet to be formed after Pres. Aquino signed RA 10368 on the occasion of the 27th People Power Anniversary, February 25 this year.
Martial Law victims will submit another letter to Pres. Aquino on August 21, demanding for the law’s implementation. A protest action will also be held at the foot of Mendiola to be participated in by hundreds of Martial Law victims from Manila and nearby provinces.
“Malacañang has a lot of explaining to do, not only to the victims but to the general public, why there is so much delay in the formation of the claims board. Moreover, we are questioning the apparent effort to exclude SELDA, the organization which led the historic filing of the class suit against the Marcoses, for the plunder and rights violations against the people,” Enriquez pointed out.
Include all Hawaii class suit members
Meanwhile, SELDA welcomed the new settlement agreement involving an artwork “owned” by Imelda Marcos.
The group said, however, that the new agreement should include all the original 9,539 victims who were part of the class suit in Hawaii. It can be remembered that in the $10 million Swift-Campos settlement agreement, only 7,526 out of the 9,539 claimant-victims were given their share from the settlement.
“The more than 2,000 victims who were denied of compensation in the first settlement is equivalent to a blatant disenfranchisement and non-recognition. Delisting them for the second time is unforgivable,” Enriquez said.
Nevertheless, Enriquez said recognition to the victims as soon as the law is implemented, is important and valuable. “No amount of money is equivalent to the recognition that shall etch the role played by the Martial Law heroes in our nation’s history,” Enriquez concluded. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Hustisya) and Hustisya (Victims United for Justice) join the families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre in remembering the 1000th day since the killing of 58 of their kin, and one who remains missing to this day.
Massacres have been a common fare since the dark days of Martial Law. Who will ever forget the Jabidah massacre that killed close to 60 Moro recruits used by Marcos for the “Operation Merdeka,” the alleged annexation of Sabah to the Philippines in 1968.
Then there was the Escalante massacre in September 20, 1985, where some 5,000 sugar-workers, peasants, fisherfolk, students, church people and professionals staged a rally at the town center in Escalante, after which members of the Regional Special Action Force (RSAF) and the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) opened fire at the protesters resulting to the death of some 20 civilians and wounding 30 others.
After Marcos, there was the Mendiola massacre in 1987, where 13 peasants were killed under Cory Aquino’s watch.
It has been 40 years since the declaration of martial law. Yet, like the victims of the Maguindanao massacre in 2009, justice is yet to be served to the victims of these massacres.
Impunity is an abominable legacy of the Marcos dictatorship and those who succeeded him, and so is injustice. Unfortunately, Noynoy Aquino, the son of Ninoy, have not ended this atrocious legacy; he has in fact continued to perpetuate it.
Just like those who have gone before them, families of victims of these massacres and other human rights violations have learned and earned a more lasting legacy – to fight repressive rulers and seek justice in whatever way they can.
We have been in this struggle for decades, we have raged and fought a dictator and those who tried to follow in his footsteps. But perpetrators have simply come and gone, unpunished. It is upon the Aquino government to end the cycle of impunity that promotes continuing human rights violations inflicted on the people. But until he does, we will continue to hold him responsible and accountable for these crimes.
We have gone to every corner of the country, if not the world, to demand justice and ask people to support our call. Let us continue these efforts in the coming days, weeks, even years. From victims, let us rise to be defenders of the people and continue to fight impunity. ###
Reference: Boni Ilagan, SELDA, Vice Chairperson, 0917-6291241 Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general, 0949-1772928