BY AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE | Rappler.com
MANILA, Philippines – Torture victims under the 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos vented their anger Wednesday, January 2, at a government plan to wind down its hunt for the late dictator’s embezzled billions.
The proposal would give the signal that people in power can commit crimes with impunity, said the human rights organization Selda.
“We cannot just forgive and forget what the Marcoses did to us, nor must the Aquino government stop pursuing justice for martial law victims and the rest of the Filipinos,” the group said in a statement.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering the Marcos wealth, said last month that it would soon wind down its operations after almost 30 years.
Its head Andres Bautista told AFP he had recommended to Aquino that the agency’s work be transferred to the justice department.
He said pursuing all of the Marcos wealth on a limited budget had become difficult with Marcos’s widow, Imelda, and her 3 children back in positions of power.
Both Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda as well as the justice department confirmed Wednesday that the proposal had been sent to President Benigno Aquino III, and that it was under study.
Marcos was toppled by a popular revolt in 1986 and replaced by Corazon Aquino, the incumbent’s late mother. Her first act was to create the commission to try to recover the plundered assets.
Bautista said the commission has recovered P164 billion ($4 billion at the prevailing exchange rate), or less than half of the estimated 10 billion dollars in wealth believed plundered by the Marcos family.
Selda groups anti-Marcos activists who were jailed and abused during martial law.
A US court in 2011 awarded some 7,500 rights victims 7.5 million dollars in compensation for their suffering, in what was seen largely as a token victory.
The funds came from assets held in the US by a crony of Marcos that were seized. – Rappler.com
“The decision of the US Court of Appeals declaring Imelda Marcos and her son Bongbong in contempt is another victory for the victims of martial law.”
The statement was issued today by Bonifacio Ilagan, Vice-Chairperson of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA).
On October 24, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a contempt judgment on Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, his mother Imelda and the estate of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos for violating a court order transferring the assets of the estate.
“The decision is a smack in the face of the Marcoses who continue to arrogantly hold on to their ill-gotten wealth and to use it to remain in their lofty positions and power,” Ilagan stated.
Bongbong sits as a senator, mother Imelda is currently a congressman and sister Imee is governor of Ilocos province. Both mother and daughter are running for re-election in next year’s elections.
The US Court of Appeals has ordered that martial law victims be awarded US$353.6 million resulting from the daily fine of $100,000 from February 3, 1995 to February 3, 2005 imposed by the Hawaii Court of First Instance.
Despite this, the victims of the Marcos dictatorship has yet to be indemnified after winning the historic Class Action Suit against Marcos in 1992.
“It’s been twenty years since that historic day, and to date, even after gaining another victory, no law has been passed by the government to indemnify the victims,” Ilagan lamented. “This delay has partly been caused by various settlements that the different administrations have entered into with the Marcoses since the time of former President Corazon Aquino.”
SELDA warned the current Aquino government from entering into any agreement with the Marcoses that would compromise the martial law victims. It stressed that now is the time for it to complement the US Court of Appeals decision with positive action by pushing the Senate to act on the indemnification bill, as well as hold the Marcoses and their cronies and henchmen accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people.
“What worth is this victory, if the Aquino government continues to ignore our demands for justice and even turns chummy chummy with the Marcoses?” Ilagan queried.
“Whatever we gained through this latest US Court decision should not end up being ill-gotten once more.” SELDA concluded. ###
Reference: Bonifacio Ilagan – Vice Chairperson (09176291241)