Human Rights Violations Victims Welcome the Signing of Reparation Law

Photo by Ruben Felipe

Quezon City – Human Rights activists, survivors, relatives and friends of victims of state violence during the dark years of Martial Rule laud the signing into law of RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, in a Forum held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Amphitheater, Tuesday afternoon, March 5, 2013.

The occasion was graced by the two authors of the Bill, House Representatives Edcel Lagman and Neri Colmenares, who himself was a victim of illegal arrest, torture and detention when he was an 18 year old student activist in the Visayas. Sharing the celebration were the Ambassador of Switzerland, HE Ivo Sieber, Former Senator Heherson Alvarez, Former House Representatives Satur Ocampo and Ome Candazo, Jose De Jesus and Neivelena Rosete, Bantayog Board and Executive Director respectively, National Historical Commission Chair Maris Diokno and her brother, Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, Bantayog Board and Dean of the De La Salle College of Law.

The Law is a touted as a milestone in terms of standard setting for reparation and indemnification of victims of human rights atrocities, not just for the Philippines, but for the world. According to Lagman, RA 10368 is said to be the most comprehensive reparation legislation in the crimes covered – from of illegal arrests, detention, summary execution, torture, involuntary disappearance, rape and other sex offenses and other gross human rights violations committed during the Martial Law regime. Other reparation laws in other countries often only cover high-profile cases of deaths and disappearances, and would often not extend cases involving sexual offenses or exile.

The Law is also notable in its provision, not just for the monetary reparation, but for its non-monetary aspect as well. The latter refers to provisions for health care, offers of scholarships, and even livelihood opportunities for the victims and/or family members affected by the gross human rights violations of the Marcos dictatorship, tapping government agencies like the DOH, CHED, DSWD, TESDA, among others. Funds for these services will not be taken from the Php 10B plus accrued interests monetary reparation allocation from the Marcos ill-gotten wealth transferred by the Swiss government to the Philippines in 1997. The Law also provides for the teaching of the struggle and atrocities ML years, in all level of education, from primary to tertiary levels.

Claimants 1081, the group that filed the class suits against the Marcoses, in their Press Statement on the signing of this Act, said that just as it exposes the “real nature and character of the dictatorial regime”, it also “bestows honor and recognition to countless men and women and their families who suffered unspeakable indignities” suffered under the fascist Marcos regime. Colmenares said that though the Law is laudable, “accountability” is still not achieved, but that this is a good start, and admonishes one and all to trust and hope, that the Philippine society will be one that protects, respects and defends human rights for all.