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 held a rally outside Batasang Pambansa on Wednesday while the bicameral conference committee “harmonized” the Lower House and Senate versions of the bill to indemnify victims of martial law to craft the final version into a law.
“We are here to press our senators and congressmen to stand by the bill most acceptable and reflect the interests of the majority of the victims of Martial Law,” said Marie Hilao Enriquez, whose group, SELDA, initiated the filing of the historic class action suit against the Marcoses in the US Federal Court System in 1986 and won a favorable ruling in 1992.
SELDA stressed that members of the BiCam must consider the voices and interests of the victims embodied in the four points the organization asked to be included in the final version of the law. The first BiCam meeting resulted into debates which the victims felt were only moves to delay the passage of the bill, just before the 2013 elections.
“We reiterate that victims who filed a class action suit against Marcos in Hawaii must be conclusively presumed as legitimate human rights violation victims and must be acknowledged as such so that they will not be made to once more prove their legitimacy as human rights violations victims during martial law, just like the “new claimants” who will be filing claims for the first time under Philippine law Instead of instantly casting doubts on the victims, the law should prioritize that victims need recognition and reparation or indemnification as components of justice that victims long deserved,” Enriquez said.
The group has earlier expressed disappointment on Sen. Joker Arroyo’s insistence of a provision on disputable presumption of the martial law victims who filed and won a case vs. Marcos in Hawaii . Enriquez explained, “it is not only painful, but far more dangerous, for the victims to undergo and endure the painful and rigorous process again to prove they were indeed violated during Martial Law.”
SELDA also said that only considering as human rights violations victims during martial law those who “peacefully exercised their rights against the dictatorship” is clearly excluding those who resisted the violations during the white terror years and sends a very dangerous signal to the perpetrators of human rights violations that theperpetrators can do what they like to people considered as not “peacefully” exercising their civil and political rights. This provision also opens up a problem of who will and how will the “peaceful” exercise be determined. Further, even the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which the Philippine government subscribes to, does not specify how the rights will be exercised.
“Why should this be an issue when the rights to take up arms in a time of tyrannical rule are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Pushing for such a provision in a law meant to render a component of justice to martial law victims will deny such Martial Law heroes and martyrs as Emman Lacaba, Edgar Jopson, Lorena Barros, and a hundred more who have been recognized as worthy of emulation by Bantayog ng mga Bayani and most importantly, in our nation’s history,” she said. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
As Karapatan calls on Noynoy, Congress to pass Marcos victims bill before elections
Rights group hits pro-Marcos views of Arroyo, Akbayan at the bicam of Marcos victims’ bill
Karapatan today called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino and Congress “to pass the version of the Marcos victims compensation bill that is acceptable and judicious for the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law and their relatives.“
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said Aquino and both houses of Congress should not delay the immediate passage of the acceptable version of the law, have it passed and signed into law before it gets frustrated again with the frenzy for the upcoming election period. “Since the landmark judgment in Hawaii on the class suit against Marcos, several sessions of Congress have been remiss in rendering justice and indemnification for Marcos victims through the appropriate legislative measure. Aquino should certify this as an urgent measure,” she commented.
The House of Representatives and Senate have formed a bicameral conference committee to deliberate on versions of the bill from both houses.
Palabay noted that there were “snags” encountered during the debates of the bicameral conference committee, citing the positions of Sen. Joker Arroyo and Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello which the group deems as “pro-Marcos” views, as the points of debates they inject in the bicameral meetings go against the principle of the proposed law, which is to render justice and indemnification to Martial Law victims.
“Both lawmakers denigrate the persevering efforts of the victims when they disregard the judgment of the US court in the landmark class suit against the Marcos. By asserting that there should be ‘disputable presumption’ for all victims, they are providing the Marcoses with another malicious legal tactic to contest the judgment in Hawaii, which found former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos guilty of rights abuses during Martial Law. This proposal is clearly in favor of the Marcoses,” Palabay explained.
Palabay said Karapatan and the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), a group of former political prisoners which led the filing of the class suit in Hawaii, insist that “conclusive presumption” should be given to the 9,539 victims who filed and won the class suit in Hawaii to give due and appropriate recognition for the ‘guilty’ judgment on Marcos.
Karapatan also said the two legislators should be reminded of the principle enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN UDHR) that recognizes that right of peoples, who are confronting tyrannical and oppressive regimes, to take up arms against these kinds of governments, such as the Marcos regime.
“By proposing to exclude as ‘victims’ those who took up arms and also suffered rights violations during Martial Law, Arroyo and Bello are promoting principles that undermine the struggles of the Filipino people during Martial Law and, in effect, are undermining the universally recognized right of peoples to oppose tyrannical regimes, in whatever form they deem necessary,” Palabay concluded.
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831 Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
Bicameral committee meeting set in 2013
Let the voices of the victims be heard in the compensation bill that will be enacted into law
The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA today reminded and strongly urged the members of the legislative body to allow the voices of the victims to be heard and formally be worded in the planned harmonized version of the law that will be crafted by members of the Senate and House of Representatives bicameral committee for the compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.
SELDA, the human rights organization that spearheaded the filing of a class suit against Marcos in Hawaii in 1986, welcomed the passage of the bill on third reading in the Senate on December 17, 2012 as members of the organization have repeatedly conducted several lobby activities in the Upper House for its action. The Lower House has passed its version on March 21, 2012 yet.
“Our efforts have brought us to this juncture where the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill is on the threshold of being enacted into a law,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA Chairperson. “However, we still have to continue to lobby for the law to reflect the victims’ voices.”
In a position paper submitted to legislators last year, SELDA members are pushing for the following provisions to be included in the proposed law:
- Recognition of the original 9,539 victims and class suit plaintiffs, as well as 24 other individual plaintiffs (21 Filipino US-based expats who filed a case for human rights violations against Marcos in 1986; and a group of 3 Filipinos, who include Prof. Jose Ma. Sison and his mother, representing his disappeared brother, Francisco, and who filed a similar cases in Hawaii against Marcos on the same year; the cases of the 21 and the 3 were consolidated with the class suit to be called Multi District Litigation 840 or MDL 840) , all of whom filed a case against former President Marcos in the U.S. in 1986 and won after the U.S. Federal Court and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court issued their rulings on September 22, 1992 and December 10, 1997 respectively, and who have already been validated by the Hawaiian Court as legitimate human rights violations victims during the time of the dictatorship.
- Inclusion of the victims of enforced disappearance among those who should be considered for the determination of award under Section 16 of Senate Bill 3334.
- Inclusion of SELDA as one of the members of the commission/committee that will be created and tasked to implement the enacted law. SELDA pushes for inclusion in the group that will be responsible to identify the victim/claimant.
- And finally, to remove the section that requires “for a human rights violation to be compensable, the killing, torture or infliction of physical injuries must be committed against a Filipino citizen peacefully exercising civil or political rights.” This will create a difficulty among those who will decide who should be considered as victims who “peacefully” exercised their rights as against those who did not. Anybody can be summarily excluded after having been accused of getting involved in a “non-peaceful” means of exercising his/her civil or political rights.
“The coming year would be a memorable year for martial law victims if the Marcos Victims’ Compensation Bill will finally be enacted into law containing the provisions we victims want included. That is why even during the holidays, victims must continue to monitor and lobby to make sure that the law is not just enacted to prettify the Aquino government and deodorize its ugly human rights record among the public and in the community of nations,” Enriquez stated.
SELDA has been pushing for a law to indemnify victims of human rights violations as a component of justice, including victims of martial law. SELDA members have repeatedly believed and said that components of justice are recognition of victims of human rights violations, indemnification of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and their punishment, apology to victims and a promise from perpetrators of non-repetition of human rights violations. This way, impunity will be lessened, if not completely curtailed.
“We have declared that a law for the reparation of victims of the Marcos dictatorship is only a battle won in our lifelong struggle for justice. So long as implementers of Martial Law remain unpunished, we will not tire of seeking justice for their victims.” Enriquez ended. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 09209466207
The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) today welcomes with guarded enthusiasm, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s recent statements at the ASEM meeting in Laos to compensate victims of martial law.
“We have waited for this far too long now and President Noynoy Aquino has in fact mentioned this as one of his priority bills in last year’s SONA, but until now, this is yet to be realized,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of Selda. “We are hopeful that with this current pronouncement, the bill to compensate the victims will finally be enacted into a law.”
The human rights group clarified that not all of the $680 million Marcos Swiss deposit will go to the victims and that only one-third will be used for the compensation; and this is the equivalent of P10B. “We recognize that the money is for the Filipinos and that it must be utilized for land reform. We only asked for a small portion of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth for compensation,” Enriquez stated.
SELDA only wishes that the victims will no longer be made to wait more than they have already done. Furthermore, the human rights group urged
the Senate to pass a bill that would reflect the voice of the victims and remove provisions inimical to the interests of the victims.
SELDA has been lobbying for the Senate to revise and pass SB 2615. The Committee on Justice and Human Rights said it is still awaiting the comments of Senator Joker Arroyo on the bill before they submit it for plenary debates at the Senate. The House version was passed on March 21, 2012.
SELDA Chairperson, Marie Enriquez, brought the bill’s status to the attention of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in September as well as the Human Rights Committee in October both in Geneva, urging the said bodies to remind the Philippine government of its commitment to compensate the martial law victims. In her oral intervention at the September Human Rights Council session at the adoption of the Philippine UPR report, Enriquez “particularly took note of Switzerland’s UPR recommendation to compensate the victims of martial law” especially since the Swiss government has already transferred the US$680M Marcos Swiss deposits in favor of the Philippine government in 1997 yet.
SELDA asserts that compensation to human rights violations victims like the martial law victims is a component of justice that is enshrined in the UN instruments as well as in the Philippine Constitution. Thus, the victims’ demand for indemnification are just and the portion of the funds that Marcos stashed in Swiss banks and have been transferred by the Swiss government rightfully belong to them.
SELDA will be watching and will continue to press for the government to deliver on its promise. ###
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson, SELDA
After passage of Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, martial law victims call for passage of Marcos Victims’ Compensation BillPress 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