January 22, 2017
QUEZON CITY – The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) agreed to the demand made by SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) and human rights victims to start distributing the reparation and speed up the processing of claims of martial law victims during a meeting with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte on January 19 in Malacanang.
SELDA sought Pres. Duterte’s intervention to expedite the process of recognition and indemnification of thousands of victims who toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Leaders and officials of SELDA met with the President for the first time on Jan. 17 at the Palace. They told the President that despite the passage of the reparation law four years ago the victims, many of whom are old and ailing, have yet to receive recognition and compensation. Worse, the Board has processed only 30,000 applications, not even half of the total 75,000 applications.
“This snail-paced system that has been the practice of the Claims Board for the last three years which could remain unfinished until the sunset year of the Board’s tenure in 2018 is victimizing the already-victimized victim,” commented Marie Hilao-Enriquez SELDA Chair who attended the said dialogue.
Pres. Duterte agreed that indeed the processing is to slow and summoned the Board to speed up the processing and distribution of the compensation funds for the victims.
At the January 19 dialogue called by President Duterte between the HRVCB and SELDA, human rights victims scored a victory when the HRVCB agreed to expedite the reparation and recognition of Martial Law human rights victims.
The HRVCB will partially award in advance the indemnification of the already approved applicants of human rights violations victim claimants numbering in thousands as of January 18, 2017. It is also agreed that the partial indemnification shall be done within a sixty days period. Consequently, non-monetary reparation will also be made available for the victims who seek assistance from Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and TESDA.
“Though the victory is incomplete and partial, it gives hope to the victims who are already old and ailing. SELDA will continue to press for the speedy processing of the remaining forty-five thousands applicants so that justice and indemnification to the victims will be rendered”, said Enriquez.
Also, SELDA assures to help the HRVCB in the processing of the partial payment and other requirements that entail coordination.
SELDA expressed deep concern on the high fall rate of invalid applicants out of the initially processed 30,000 of which only 9,000 were approved. Likewise, it will also look in to the validity of the Claims Board statement that only 3,000 Hawaii claimants had applied for reparation and recognition out of the original 9,539 class action suit members. It must be recalled that the Hawaii Claimants were accorded conclusive-presumption according to the law (RA 10368).
Justice must be served to all Martial Law victims who were recognized by law when the Republic Act 10368 was signed and approved into law in February 2013. However, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board(HRVCB), takes a slow pace in processing the 75,730 applicants since it was created in 2014.
No less than the President Duterte himself, during the January 17 dialogue with SELDA officials and leaders stated that the slow paced reparation process and recognition is a violation of the law itself and an injustice to the thousands of victims of Marcos martial law. He also promised to expedite the process.
Likewise, President Duterte and SELDA agreed that there should be an immediate and advance reparation for the already approved claimants.
During the last dialogue, the HRVCB agreed to write the Commission on Audit (COA) to seek for an exemption on the publication of the accredited claimants to hasten the advance and partial compensation. According to the law, it is required that only after processing all the total claimants and its approved list in order that the awarding of monetary and non-monetary compensation could commence, there should be publications of accredited lists of claimants in three consecutive weeks on broadsheet newspapers.
At present, the Claims Board had already spent P136.17 M for its operations from the P10 B allotted fund for reparation. It has fifteen (15) remaining months to complete its tasks and implement the law.
SELDA shall also look into the matter of Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission which is according to the law should be created which until now is never implemented. The law also stipulates the “The lessons learned from Martial Law atrocities and the lives and sacrifices of HRVVs shall be included in the basic and higher education curricula, as well as in continuing adult learning, prioritizing those most prone to commit human rights violations (n, 27)." SELDA is looking forward to the day that all victims of Martial Law by a dictator, plunderer and human rights violator Ferdinand Marcos will be recognized and given reparation.