A quarter century after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the government will officially hold accountable his martial law regime for human rights abuses and its victims compensated for their sufferings.
A bicameral conference committee will hold a final meeting Monday to smooth out the final version of a bill that seeks to compensate victims of abuses during the 14 years martial law was enforced before it is submitted for approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Sunday.
Compensation will come from the P10 billion of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth that Swiss authorities have transferred to the Philippines. The amount that each would receive would depend on what kind of abuse they suffered.
Aside from that, the impending law would hold Marcos responsible for what transpired during his dictatorship.
“Finally, over two decades after the fall of the dictatorship, we will have a law that puts the responsibility for human rights abuses square on the shoulder of Marcos and provides justice for all those who suffered under his reign,” Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said in a statement.
Bello, a member of the bicameral panel, also said the bill would ensure that the younger generation would learn about the atrocities committed during martial law.
It is important to impart the lessons from the Marcos regime to prevent a repeat of the dark period, he said.
“The nation is practically on the verge of forgetting the atrocities committed during the martial law period, and this is not by accident but because of the deliberate revisionist efforts of the Marcos camp to whitewash the memory of that period. Justice also lies in ensuring that Filipinos of all generations will not forget the dark, violent past, and the bill ensures that,” he said.
Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), for its part, said the bill was all the more significant for formally recognizing that abuses were committed during martial law and that there were those who did not take these sitting down.
“More than the monetary compensation, the bill represents the only formal, written document that martial law violated the human rights of Filipinos and that there were courageous people who fought the dictatorship,” the group said in a statement.
January 24, 2013
Bicam finalizes reparation and recognition bill for rights victims
SELDA salutes Martial Law heroes
“We salute the Martial Law heroes who, despite old age, sickness, maneuvers of the Marcoses, and all other obstacles along the way, have painstakingly stood and fought to make sure that this bill granting reparation and recognition to the martial law victims is passed. We have gone a long way. We have long fought for this,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson and a Martial Law victim herself.
Yesterday, the bicameral conference committee hammered out the final version of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, formerly known as the Marcos victims compensation bill, provisions of which became acceptable to the majority of the victims as the final version now included SELDA’s position.
“In welcoming the final version, we remember the SELDA leaders who pursued the path of making the Marcoses accountable for the human rights violations they committed to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought martial law,” said Enriqiuez.
SELDA remembers and salutes the bravery and memories of Don Chino Roces, founding chairperson of SELDA, Dean Armando Malay, Dr. Nemesio Prudente, former Navy Capt. Danilo Vizmanos, Atty. Jose Mari Velez and Atty. Rolando Olalia. They were members of the Board of SELDA who decided to go after Marcos after the dictator’s downfall.
The group also commended the steadfastness of SELDA Board members who are still living, like Fidel Agcaoili, Juliet De Lima-Sison, Vicente Ladlad , Dean Francisco Nemenzo, Tita Lubi, Josephine Dongail and Doris Baffrey, Board members who are still alive.
“We share this victory to Atty. Romeo Capulong who took over as SELDA’s legal counsel when Atty. Jose Mari Velez died in 1991. He tirelessly assisted the victims and SELDA in the twists and turns of the case. He exerted all efforts against the maneuverings of the Marcoses and the machinations of the American and other Filipino lawyers in the case. We also dedicate this bill to all the heroes and martyrs of Martial Law who have gone before us, and who waged the most determined fight against the dictatorship and suffered the worst violations during martial law,” Enriquez stressed.
Enriquez added that this bill is a small effort of SELDA to ensure that their sacrifice shall not be put to waste. SELDA’s position on the “conclusive presumption” provision was among the positive provisions included in the final version of the bill. This provision states that the 9,539 victims who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses filed in 1986 in Hawaii are automatically recognized as victims of human rights violations.
“The bill’s passage is a victory not only for the victims but for the Filipino people. More than the monetary compensation, the bill represents the only formal, written document that martial law violated the human rights of Filipinos and that there were courageous people who fought the dictatorship.
SELDA said that with the bill now ready for ratification by Congress, the victims should make sure that the law, when put into in effect, should be fully implemented. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson 0917-5616800
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!
“Conclusive presumption” asserted by victims
SELDA to bicam: “Finish work” on next meeting
Appealing to members of the bicameral conference committee to “finish their work” on January 23, Martial Law victims urged both members of the Lower House and Senate to stand by the “conclusive presumption” provision in the final version of the Marcos victims compensation bill.
“By then, we hope that the bicameral meeting will finish all the work, and ensure that the bill is passed and legitimate victims are recognized as such. Any more moves to counter what has been approved by the House by the duplicitous play of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello should be stopped and condemned,” SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.
SELDA, the human rights organization who filed and won the historic class suit of Martial Law victims against the Marcoses in 1986, asserted that the 9,539 victims should be recognized as legitimate victims under “conclusive presumption,” contrary to the “disputable presumption” pushed by Bello.
“The Hawaii class suit has been recognized as a landmark judgment, but why do Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and even CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales the first to cast doubts on the victims. These are essentially one and the same with the argument of the Marcoses, who disputed in Hawaii the legitimacy of the victims of human rights violations,” Enriquez asked.
She added that the victims took the risks of filing charges against the Marcoses for justice and indemnification, and have went through the rigorous and painful process of retelling the accounts of their arrest, detention and torture and of their colleagues. “And now these people want them to prove again, after 40 years, that they are victims? This is not only undermining history, this is a grave insult to them,” Enriquez said. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
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
ALBANY, New York—New York courts have dismissed the claim by victims of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos for more than $35 million from a US brokerage account, citing the competing claim by the Philippine government upheld by its own highest court.
The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest judicial body, says the state’s courts for now “should not intercede” in a case that remains within the province of Philippine national sovereignty.
If the assets belong to that country’s people, also victimized by the Marcos regime that was overthrown in 1986, the court says the assets should be returned.
Marcos was sued in the US federal court in Hawaii, where he fled, on behalf of some 10,000 victims of arrest, torture and execution. The plaintiffs obtained a nearly $2-billion judgment after he died and now seek related assets.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Selda (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto), an organization of former political prisoners, said in Manila that the decision was “disheartening for the victims.”
Proves Marcoses stole
“At the same time, I’m also happy because that proves that the Marcoses stole money from the people, and that should be returned to the Filipino people. In effect, the court ruled in favor of the Philippine government,” she said by phone.
“The problem is, it might be stolen again if it’s returned to the people,” Enriquez said, recalling that part of the $386-million ($630 million in 2004) “Marcos loot,” which the Swiss Supreme Court ordered transferred to the Philippines in 1997, was used in the 2004 “fertilizer fund scam.”
Enriquez, daughter of one of the original plaintiffs in the class suit filed against the Marcos family, said lawyer Robert Swift made the claim for the victims to fund the $2-billion judgment.
Selda filed a class action suit for 10,000 victims before the US Federal District Court System on April 7, 1986. The court ruled against the Marcos family on Sept. 22, 1992, finding the dictator guilty of crimes against humanity. The court ordered the Marcos family to pay exemplary damages of $1.9 billion and later, compensatory damages of $776 million to the victims.
Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said in a text message: “I feel rather sad that a historical judgment won for victims of martial law—the first court to declare Marcos guilty of human rights violations—should be resisted by pure legal arguments, blind to the spirit of the historical judgment: compensate those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. It’s a sad day.” Reports from AP and TJ Burgonio in Manila