Posts tagged “Republic Act 10368

P-Noy Booed for Appointing ‘Martial Law Relic’ as Head of HR Victims’ Claims Board

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Rhodora Martinez | Kicker Daily News
February 28, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – A two-star general was put on a hot seat after critics questioned her qualifications as the newly appointed chairperson of a compensation board tasked to determine who were victims of Martial Law that deserve compensation.

This came after President Benigno Aquino III appointed police general Lina Castillo-Sarmiento to head the Martial Law Victims Claims Board.

Lawmakers and human rights groups expressed dismay over the President’s appointment of Sarmiento and vowed to seek intervention from the Supreme Court to reverse the Palace decision.

Senator Joker Arroyo appealed to Aquino in his open letter to the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer to re-examine the basis for the appointment of Sarmiento.

Arroyo said Sarmiento’s track record on human rights today does not qualify her to the position as she was never involved in human rights advocacy during the Martial Law years.

“The appointment of a general from the uniformed services to preside as chair over the adjudication of the claims for reparation and recognition of the human rights victims is a stinging repudiation of our 15 years of struggle for freedom and democracy, which culminated in the national incandescence at EDSA,” the elder lawmaker stated.

According to Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, the appointment of Sarmiento as claims board chair is a violation of the criteria that a member of the compensation board should have a “clear commitment on human rights protection and promotion.”

Colmenares said that under former President Gloria Arroyo, Sarmiento headed the Philippine National Police-Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO).

“General Sarmiento openly defended former President Gloria Arroyo from charges of human rights violations and extra judicial killings, practically tolerating the human rights record of the Arroyo regime,” he stressed.

Republic Act 10368, also known as the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, requires the members of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board to possess the following qualifications:

  • 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.

Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court to ask the high court to nullify Sarmiento’s appointment.

According to the petition, “human rights victims are not beggars and are not concerned merely with seeking compensation for themselves for past and continuing atrocities.”

“Compensation is a component of justice. Re-writing the history of human rights violations during the martial law regime is the bigger picture. By appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence, and concealed them with a veneer of impunity,” it added.

Senator Arroyo, Colmenares and Ocampo are among those who experienced torture and detention by the Philippine Army and Philippine Constabulary, where Sarmiento was a member.

“We want to mark it in our history that never again shall we allow perpetrators of human rights violations go unpunished. Letting a Martial Law relic head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board is a betrayal of that purpose,” Ocampo stated.

According to SELDA, there are about 10, 000 victims of human rights violations under the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

RA 10368 was signed into law by President Aquino on February 2013 on the occasion of the anniversary of the historic People Power uprising that ousted the dictator president.


Martial Law victims ask SC to nullify appointment of police general to claims board

 InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 3:35 p.m.) Victims of human rights abuses committed by the Marcos dictatorship marked the 28th anniversary of the 1986 People Power uprising by asking the Supreme Court to nullify the appointment of retired police general Lina Sarmiento to head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

Among the petitioners were former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, Neri Colmenares, the incumbent representative of the party-list group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chair Carlo Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi and Josephine Dongail, all of them among the close to 10,000 human rights abuse victims awaiting recognition under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Many quarters have protested the appointment of Sarmiento, calling it a travesty of the law’s intent and an insult to the dictatorship’s victims.

Among those who have voiced their opposition are former Senators Rene Saguisag and Joker Arroyo, both prominent human rights lawyers who defended the victims of the dictatorship.

In a statement, the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto said RA 10368 mandates that members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board possess the following qualifications:

  • 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 want to mark it in our history that never again shall we allow perpetrators of human rights violations (to) go unpunished. Letting a Martial Law relic head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board is a betrayal of that purpose. We shall exhaust any legal remedy available so that justice may be served,” Ocampo said in the statement.

The petition for certiorari he and the others filed says: “It is more than an issue of trust between the Human Rights Claims Board and the human rights victims. It is greater than ensuring confidence in the system supposedly envisioned to bring about justice. It is beyond the integrity of the process of arriving at the compensation to be awarded and the standards to be used in determining compensability and linking it to the rightful beneficiaries. The sum total of these values, though important, does not adequately address the issue against appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board.”

“The human rights victims are not beggars and are not concerned merely with seeking compensation for themselves for past and continuing atrocities,” it added. “Compensation is a component of justice. Rewriting the history of human rights violations during the martial law regime is the bigger picture.”

“By appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence, and concealed them with a veneer of impunity,” the petition said.

The petitioners are represented by lawyers Edre Olalia, Julian Oliva, Ephraim Cortez and Minerva Lopez of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Despite the criticism of Sarmiento’s appointment, President Benigno Aquino III defended his choice, citing the retired general’s age and experience.

He also said Sarmiento would be able to “fend off those who want to sabotage” the law.

But Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights organization Karapatan, described Aquino’s defense of Sarmiento as “lame … as lame as his understanding of the very essence of the law that he is supposed to implement.”

“By appointing Sarmiento, Aquino appears as the primary saboteur of the intent of the law to provide justice and reparations to Martial Law victims,” she said.


SELDA files certiorari at SC, demands nullification of Gen. Sarmiento’s appointment to Human Rights Victims Claims Board

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News Release
25 February 2014

Continuing protest vs PNoy-created HR Victims Claims Board
SELDA files certiorari at SC, demands nullification of Gen. Sarmiento’s appointment to Human Rights Victims Claims Board

On the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power I, Martial Law victims led by former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo filed a petition today asking the Supreme Court to nullify the appointment of PNP Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as chairperson of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, the formation of which Pres. BS Aquino announced on February 13, 2014.

Petitioners include martial law victims namely Former Bayan Muna Rep. Saturnino Ocampo, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, Dr. Maria Carolina P. Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi and Josephine Dongail. All of them belong to the almost 10,000 Martial Law victims awaiting recognition as stated in Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 signed into law by Pres. BS Aquino.

According to RA 10368, members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board should possess the following qualifications: 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.

“We want to mark it in our history that never again shall we allow perpetrators of human rights violations go unpunished. Letting a Martial Law relic head the Human Rights Victims Claims Board is a betrayal of that purpose. We shall exhaust any legal remedy available so that justice may be served,” Ocampo said.

The petition for certiorari concluded that “It is more than an issue of trust between the Human Rights Claims Board and the human rights victims. It is greater than ensuring confidence in the system supposedly envisioned to bring about justice. It is beyond the integrity of the process of arriving at the compensation to be awarded and the standards to be used in determining compensability and linking it to the rightful beneficiaries. The sum total of these values, though important, does not adequately address the issue against appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board.

The petition said, “The human rights victims are not beggars and are not concerned merely with seeking compensation for themselves for past and continuing atrocities. Compensation is a component of justice. Re-writing the history of human rights violations during the martial law regime is the bigger picture. By appointing a former police general to head the Human Rights Claims Board, the President is practically exonerating the entire system that perpetrated the abuses, justified their occurrence, and concealed them with a veneer of impunity.”

The counsels of the petitioners are from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) namely Attys. Edre Olalia, Julian Oliva, Ephraim Cortez and Minerva Lopez.

A number of Martial Law victims gathered infront of the Supreme Court to support the filing of the petition. ###

Reference: Jigs Clamor, SELDA national secretariat coordinator, 0917-5965859


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SC asked to stop appointment of new rights claims board head

Tetch Torres-Tupas | Inquirer.net
February 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — A group of human rights victims during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos asked the Supreme Court to stop the appointment of retired General Lina Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Claims Board.

In a petition filed Tuesday, they urged the high court to nullify Sarmiento’s appointment.

Petitioners represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers include former lawmaker Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares, Maria Carolina Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi, and Josephine Dongail. They were all arrested, detained and tortured during the Martial Law years.

They said President Benigno Aquino III gravely abused his discretion when he appointed Sarmiento who is not qualified to head the Human Rights Claims Board.

Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, the head of the board must have a “deep and thorough understanding of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the Marcos time.

Sarmiento was a former member of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police who were among those who allegedly committed human rights violations during Marcos time.

Then, she became chief of the PNP Community Relations Group under the counterinsurgency program of the government, a machinery which petitioners say “attempted to deodorize the stench of the internationally condemned cases of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.”

“The issue of whether respondent Sarmiento meets the exacting qualities [to head the board] is therefore put to serious question. This does not inspire, merit or command trust and confidence in the head of the Board,” petitioners said.


BS Aquino’s ML Claims Board a distortion of history

PRESS RELEASE | Karapatan.org
February 20, 2014

“The Aquino government chose to commemorate the 28th year of People Power 1 and the fall of the Marcos dictatorship by consigning a general who was part of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) to head Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.  “The appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento is a subtle way to rewriting history. It obliterates the distinction between perpetrators and victims of human rights violations during martial law,”Palabay added.

Karapatan scored Sarmiento and other Aquino apologists who try to focus on the monetary compensation for the victims of martial law. The task of the Claims Board is not simply “to receive, assess, evaluate, investigate and process applications for compensation of victims of human rights violations” as Sarmiento put it.

“The heart of the matter is justice,” Palabay said. “The Claims board is a mechanism designed by a law that aims, first and foremost, to render justice to martial law victims.”

The law, in fact, specifically states its intent to “recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”

“Thus, the membership of the Claims Board should reflect the spirit of justice,” said Palabay. “Viewed from different angles, the appointment of Sarmiento is unjustifiable. At best it is ludicrous; at worst, it shows how perverted this government views history.”]

Republic Act 10368 states that members of the Claims Board must be of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding of knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion, and advocacy.

Karapatan joins the demand to recall the appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento and supports the formation of a People’s Claims Board. The People’s Claims Board is composed of known anti-dictatorship activists and human rights advocates, mostly victims of martial law themselves: Makabayan President Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela Women’s Party representative Liza Maza, UP Professor Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina de la Paz, Atty. Kit Enriquez, and Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr. ###


Group wants transparency on selection of HR claims board

Dennis Carcamo | Philippine Star

Rights group Karapatan on Thursday called on the Aquino administration for  transparent and credible process in the selection of the members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

“The process should be acceptable to the victims,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay said they are  apprehensive because as vital information on the nomination process and schedules were not publicized.

“We hope that this is not a foreshadowing of the possible exclusion of the nominees of Selda and Tanggol Bayi from the Human Rights Claims Board,” Palabay added.

The group also echoed the call of the martial law victims that the Claims Board should be composed of people “with integrity, competence and probity and, who understand the plight of the victims.”

Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the Claims board is mandated to formulate the implementing rules and regulations of the measure and to process the claims of victims of human rights violations during martial law.


Martial law victims get P10B

Jocelyn Montemayor | Malaya
February 25, 2013

SAYING the quest for justice is not yet over, President Aquino yesterday signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 (Republic Act 10368), which would compensate human rights victims during the martial law era.

The law, which was signed during the 27th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution, sets aside P10 billion from the seized Marcos assets as reparation for victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violation committed from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986.

The law also concluded that members of the class suit that was decided by Hawaii District Court Judge Manuel Real and human rights victims as recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation are also presumed victims during the martial law regime.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Section 20 of the new law provides for a reward or point system ranging from 1 to 10 which would be used to identify the victims and determine how much compensation they would receive.

Those who died or disappeared or are still missing get 10 points; those tortured and/or raped, four to nine points; detained, two to four points; and forced into exile, kidnapped or otherwise exploited, sexually offended but not raped during military and/or police operations, one to four points.

Claims by the human rights victims or their heirs shall be made within six months after the effectivity of the implementing rules . The law provides that no special power of attorney shall be recognized unless the victim is incapacitated.

A nine-member Human Rights Victim’s Claims Board shall be created that would draft the implementing guidelines and process the applications for compensation.

Non-monetary reparation shall be provided by the education and social welfare departments, Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in coordination with the Commission on Human Rights, through the preparation of teaching modules on the abuses committed and heroism shown during the martial law years.

A Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission shall be established in honor of the human rights victims.

Aquino said the People Power revolution does not belong to only one particular group, and called on Filipinos to remember its lessons and put the country’s interests ahead of their own.

He said a united and solid Filipino force is needed to stand against all obstacles in the path towards progress.

The President said the Philippines served as inspiration for other countries after the 1986 bloodless revolution. He said the country is again a new source of inspiration due to its strong fiscal standing amidst the global economic uncertainty and pessimism.

He said Filipinos should be proud of this achievement, and work on ending the economy’s boom and bust cycle.

Aquino led the flag raising ceremony at the People Power Monument that kicked off the day-long activities that marked the Edsa anniversary.

The President was joined by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Cabinet members led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and members of the Senate and House represented by Senator Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

The President also led the awarding of the Spirit of Edsa Foundation Awards, and witnessed the presentation of a Pledge of Commitment by governors, and religious, business and youth representatives and the “Salubungan” rites that recalled the  converging of the military and the people in EDSA to stand against the forces of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

President Fidel Ramos, then AFP Vice Chief of Staff, and former Senator Agapito Aquino – Aquino’s uncle – led the Salubungan.

A statue of Our Lady, credited for the peaceful revolution, was carried by Father Arnold Abelardo who was seated on top of a military tank adorned by yellow flowers. The Salubungan was followed by a shower of yellow confetti from a military chopper.

The Madrigal Singers then led the singing of “Magkaisa” and “Bayan Ko,” after which Ramos and the elder Aquino reenacted the “victory jump,” a reminder of the crowd’s celebration when told that Marcos had left the Palace.

In the afternoon in Malacañang, the President met with busloads of children from various orphanages and told them about martial law and People Power.

He said the younger generation should preserve the democracy and freedom that the country enjoys.

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) said the signing of the reparations law was a “small victory” for the martial victims’ continuing search for justice.

“They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights,” said SELDA chair Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

The group said the passage of the law was due mainly to the persistence of the martial law victims who worked with supporters against those who sought to oppose or delay the measure.

SELDA vowed to guard the 9,539 people included in the master list of martial victims against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams that will deprive them of just indemnification.

The human rights group Karapatan said the human rights abuses continue under the present administration.

In a statement, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said yesterday’s commemoration of the EDSA People Power is an “empty exercise meant as a window dressing for the administration’s dismal human rights records.”

The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the political comeback of the Marcoses, 27 years after EDSA 1, points to the failure of all post-EDSA governments to make them truly accountable.


Reparation Law ‘to Right Past Wrongs’

Catherine S. Valente Reporter | The Manila Times
February 25, 2013

President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday signed a law compensating human rights victims during the regime of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless People Power revolution ended his reign.

Under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, P10 billion ($244 million) will be distributed to thousands of people whom Marcos’ security forces tortured, raped or detained, as well as relatives of those who were killed, during his rule.

Speaking at a ceremony in Manila to mark the anniversary of the revolution that was led by his mother, President Aquino said that the law was part of his government’s efforts to “right the wrongs of the past.”

“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” the President said.

Under the law, a compensation board will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months. Those victims will be from when Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to the end of his rule in 1986.

“Our crusade for justice does not stop with commemoration. That’s why we signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, as a recognition of the suffering the victims went through during martial law, and to show that generations may pass but our resolve to right the wrongs of the past will not weaken,” he said.

Moreover, the President said that Edsa should remind Filipinos that they should be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.

“I sometimes think that it seems we are fond of the cycle of falling down, standing up, as if we cannot accept that we can move forward and advance without again being wounded, without again being persecuted, without again being hurt. It is hard to admit: we are experts in rising up but it seems we lack advancement and progress,” he said.

“Now that we have risen, let us move forward; let us carry one another and focus our sights on the future; let us dust off our worries and move forward to the realization of our dreams,” Aquino added.

The President thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., as well as the bill’s authors—Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada 3rd of Quezon province and Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña 3rd—for their contributions in the enactment of the measure.

The government has accused Marcos and his relatives of plundering up to $10 billion and has so far recovered some $4 billion.

Aquino’s mother Corazon led the People Power revolution that saw millions of people take to the streets and force US-government backed Marcos to step down from power. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.

Meanwhile, several human rights victims during the martial law era lauded the signing of the new law.

Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the Commission on Human Rights, said  that the law would finally allow all the victims to feel a sense of justice.

“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales said.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairman of Selda, a group that represents Marcos rights victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said that the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.

“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone, it will not result to much,” said Enriquez, whose group represents about 10,000 documented victims.

She said that there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in the remote south of the country.
With a report from AFP


‘HR law to right wrongs of the past’

Delon Porcalla | The Philippine Star
February 25, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The only son of two of the most prominent victims of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime signed a landmark law yesterday, providing compensation for human rights victims of the dictatorship.

President Aquino, whose father Benigno was assassinated by state forces in 1983, signed Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The law will award P10 billion, sourced mainly from the Marcoses’ deposits in Swiss banks, to about 10,000 victims.

RA 10368 seeks to “right the wrongs of the past,” President Aquino said.

Compensation will be based on the extent of injuries. A point system of distributing the funds will be spelled out in greater detail in the implementing rules and regulations that will be released soon.

“The law itself provides a point system. There will be of course the board that will be determining the claimants, and based on that point system they will be able to determine how much a person will be entitled to,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

The signing of the law – exactly 27 years after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a bloodless military-backed popular uprising – is also considered an official recognition of the atrocities committed during the regime, largely by security forces.

Marcos and his relatives and cronies are accused of plundering up to $10 billion. So far, the government has recovered about $4 billion.

“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” Aquino said.

Among the factors to be considered in determining individual compensation are period of detention, degree of torture or sexual abuse, among others.

“There is a determination of award. There is a point system and it shall range from one to 10 points,” Lacierda said.

“Victims who died or disappeared or are still missing shall be given 10 points, while those tortured and/or raped or sexually abused shall be entitled to six to nine points; victims who suffered detention shall be given three to five points; victims whose rights were violated shall be given one to two points.

“And there will be an IRR that will be drafted and perhaps put in finer detail how this computation of the point system shall be done,” Lacierda said.

The law also provides for the creation of the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission, whose task is to heighten the youth’s awareness – through education – of the excesses of the Marcos regime as well as the heroism of those who fought it.

Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista said RA 10368 “addresses not only past mistakes but endeavors to ensure that these mistakes never happen again.”

“The P10-billion fund which will be sourced from the Marcos Swiss bank accounts successfully repatriated back to the Philippines by the PCGG in 2003 is definitely being put to good use,” he said.

In a speech delivered at the People Power monument on EDSA in Quezon City, Aquino thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for shepherding the measure. He also lauded House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III – one of the main authors of the law – for patiently working for the approval of the bill.

“Now that the victims are being recognized for their sufferings, it is time to declare ‘never again’ to martial law. If we have tuwid na daan, we should also have tuwid na kasaysayan in order to prevent a wrong presentation of history,” Tañada said.

Tañada’s father and grandfather, Wigberto and Lorenzo Sr., were themselves victims of martial law.

Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the Human Rights Commission, said the law would finally allow all his victims to feel a sense of justice.

“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales said.

Under the law, a compensation board will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months, according to Rosales.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chair of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.

“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone it will not result to much,” Hilao-Enriquez said.

SELDA represents about 10,000 documented victims but she said there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in Mindanao.

“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,” SELDA said in a statement. “They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.”

‘Trilogy’ completed

For some lawmakers who fought the Marcos dictatorship, the signing of RA 10368 completed the “trilogy” of landmark human rights laws in the country.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, in separate statements, hailed President Aquino’s signing of the law but called on Malacañang to make sure the new law is strictly implemented.

The two other landmark human rights laws are the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 or RA 9745 and the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 or RA 10353, Lagman said.

Lagman’s brother, human rights and labor lawyer Hermon Lagman, disappeared on May 11, 1977. His family never found him despite incessant efforts to locate him in military camps. The Albay lawmaker said they have not decided if they would accept compensation.

Colmenares said he considered the enactment of the compensation law a personal victory, citing his experience of torture at the hands of the military as well as his four-year detention as a 17-year old student leader.

“At last the long wait for the martial law victims is over. This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the state’s recognition of their suffering under martial law,” Colmenares said.

“Many years after the Hawaii court recognized us, our own government recognized us,” he said, referring to the ruling of the US court to grant compensation to nearly 10,000 victims of human rights violations during the regime of the late strongman Marcos.

“The overall message of this recognition is that martial law must never happen again, or is a call for vigilance – the people must not let it happen again,” he added.

Colmenares also said he would have given to his mother whatever compensation he would receive had she lived long enough to see the law passed and implemented.

“She did suffer a lot during my torture and four-year imprisonment, so I would have willingly given it to her, but she died last year. I guess I would have to give my share nalang to the SELDA,” he said.

He said his mother wanted to do repairs on their house in Bacolod City. He added that it might also be ethically questionable for him to accept compensation since lawmakers are not supposed to financially benefit from legislation enacted during their term.

Unlike Colmenares, another human rights victim turned lawmaker said he would be very happy to accept compensation.

“I was a detainee in Bicutan in 1978. Yes, I will accept. It is a moral victory on my part,” Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas told The STAR. Treñas belongs to the ruling Liberal Party. Colmenares said Bayan Muna colleague and The STAR columnist Satur Ocampo had been removed from the compensation list by lawyers of the Marcoses.

“We will insist that he be included in the list of human rights victims in recognition of his sacrifices during martial law,” he said.

Not forgotten

By compensating human rights victims, the government is officially recognizing their sacrifices, senators said yesterday.

“While it took all of 27 years for the state to finally recognize the atrocities it inflicted on Filipinos whose democratic rights were suppressed under Marcos, the compensation law seeks to give justice to victims of the dark days of oppression and hopefully give an assurance that it will not happen again,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

“As one of the co-authors of this law, I personally see this as a recognition of the heroism that was widespread during martial law: a heroism that rang across hills and blazed through the streets of this country,” Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said.

Even the late dictator’s son and namesake described the law as “reasonable” and “imbued with compassion.”

But Sen. Bongbong Marcos said the government should also find ways to compensate other human rights victims after the 1986 revolution.

“It is only when we remember the atrocities, the injustice, and the abuses that went on in our past that we, as a nation, can continue to fight against attempts to resurrect these evils. Our memory of martial law, kept alive and strong, will ensure that we will never have to suffer the same fate ever again,” Guingona added.

Sen. Loren Legarda said the people should continue to fight for human rights without trampling on the rights of others.

“We must support ways by which we can protect and uphold our democracy,” she said.

“We must protect freedom of speech. We should ensure honesty, transparency and accountability of government officials, thus we must have freedom of information,” Legarda stressed.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, for his part, said the government should sustain the “momentum of change” so that every Filipino can realize the full benefits of democracy.

He said the benefits of EDSA would only be fully realized if economic opportunities become acccessible to the majority of Filipinos.

For Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the signing of the landmark compensation law on the anniversary of the People Power Revolution of 1986 “serves as a reminder for us Filipinos to never take for granted the freedom that we now enjoy.”

Pangilinan said Filipinos born after the revolution must be constantly reminded of the excesses of the Marcos regime.

“It is our duty to remind this generation of what transpired. We must never allow this part of our history to be trivialized nor the facts twisted by those who seek to be cleansed of their transgressions against the Filipino people. Never again, indeed,” Pangilinan said. – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Christina Mendez, Rhodina Villanueva, Rainier Allan Ronda


After signing of reparations law for ML victims, eternal vigilance a must – solons, SELDA

Lira Dalangin-Fernandez | InterAksyon.com
February 25, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Hailing the signing into law of the compensation act for human rights victims during the Martial Law years, victims and lawmakers on Monday said that people should remain vigilant so it would never happen again.

Simultaneous with the 27th anniversary of EDSA People Power revolution, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act as Republic Act 10368, ending the 40-year wait of the victims for recognition and compensation.

“This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the state’s recognition of their suffering under Martial Law.  Many years after the Hawaii court recognized us, now it’s our own government who did the same,” Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said in a statement.

Colmenares, tortured and imprisoned for four years during the Marcos dictatorsip, said “the overall message of this recognition is that Martial Law must never happen.”

In a separate statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the newly-signed law completes the “trilogy of legislative human rights measures” that he principally authored.

Both Lagman and Colmenares are principal authors of the new law.

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, another principal author of the measure, said not one of the victims thought of being compensated at the time they were fighting dictatorship from 1972 until February 1986, adding that it was “purely an act of patriotism.”

He added: “Now that the victims are being recognized for their sufferings, it is time to declare never again to Martial Law.  If we have ‘tuwid na daan’ under PNoy (Aquino), we should also have ‘tuwid na kasaysayan’ in order to prevent a wrong presentation of history,” Tanada said.

Lagman earlier authored the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 or Republic Act 9745 and the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10353.

The first compensation act was filed by Lagman as House Bill 2426 during the first regular session of the 10th Congress in August 1995 or almost 18 years ago.

SELDA: victory for victims

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, said the signing of the law was a victory for the victims.

“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 group said in a statement.

The law gives reparation and recognition to countless victims of human rights violations during the martial law regime from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. Violations covered are summary executions, enforced disappearances, deadly torture and other atrocious violations of human rights and civil liberties.

The claimants and direct plaintiffs in the US Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii who secured a decision in their favor against the estate of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, and the martyrs and victims recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation are conclusively presumed as human-rights violations victims.

Other victims who will be filing their claims for the first time are required to submit their claims together with detailed sworn affidavits narrating the circumstances of the violations within six months from the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Act.

A fund of P10 billion, plus accrued interests, is appropriated for the claimants’ reparation which is part of the amount transferred by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to the Philippine Government and which the Philippine Supreme Court forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines as Marcos’s ill-gotten wealth.

Some P500 million, which is part of the accrued interest, will finance the establishment of a museum, library and repository of memorabilia for the victims.

A Human Rights Violations Victims Claims Board (HRVVCB) will be set up to validate the amounts to be granted to the claimants in accordance with the severity of the injuries and damage they have sustained, based on a points system.

The law also mandates the teaching, from the elementary to the tertiary levels, of martial law with its attendant atrocities as well as the life stories and heroism of human rights violation victims.