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.
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.
“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
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