Reparation act, ‘victory’ for Martial Law victims-A A +A
Monday, February 25, 2013
MANILA -- Lawmakers lauded Monday President Benigno Aquino III for signing into law the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, saying it is a “victory” for Martial Law victims.
Under the law, which was signed in time for the 27th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Monday, some P10 billion in funds from the alleged ill-gotten wealth of dictator Ferdinand Marcos will be used to pay the victims.
House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said the historic piece of legislation seeking to give justice to Martial Law victims was a product of an 18-year struggle.
“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, we should also have ‘tuwid na kasaysayan’ in order to prevent a wrong presentation of history,” he said in a text message.
Tañada, a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party, said the future generation should not forget those who were tortured during the 20-year-rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos.
“At last, the long wait for the Martial Law victims is over. This is a victorious day for those who have awaited and fought for the State's recognition of their suffering under Martial Law,” said Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares in a statement.
Colmenares, one of the authors of the House version of the law, was tortured and imprisoned for four years when he was a student activist.
“This is a personal victory for me too. The overall message of this recognition is that Martial Law must never happen again, or in a call for vigilance - the people must not let it happen again,” he said.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, also an author, said Republic Act (RA) 10368 gives due reparation and recognition to countless victims of summary executions, enforced disappearances, deadly torture, and other atrocious violations of human rights and civil liberties.
Lagman's brother, activist-lawyer Hermon Lagman, disappeared during Martial Law. The lawmaker personally witnessed the signing of the law at the People Power Monument in Quezon City on Monday morning.
Senator Francis Escudero said the law is unique since it is the first time that a state recognizes a past administration’s abuse on its citizens through reparation and recognition.
The claimants and direct plaintiffs in the US Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii who secured a decision in their favor against the estate and the Marcoses, and the human rights 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 a period of six months from the effectivity of the law.
A fund amounting to P10 billion, plus accrued interests, is appropriated for the claimant’s reparation, which is part of the amount transferred by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to the Philippine Government.
The amount of P500 million, which is part of the accrued interest, will finance the establishment of a museum, library and repository of memorabilia for the victims.
The law 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.
“Our memory of Martial Law, kept alive and strong, will ensure that we will never have to suffer the same fate ever again,” said Senator Teofisto Guingona III.
President Aquino pledged that he will join the Filipino people in realizing its aspirations.
“Kasama ninyo sa pagkamit ng inyong inaasam,” Aquino wrote on an improvised wall near the monument.
The President also said in his speech Monday that the gains of Edsa should be used to inspire Filipinos to be part of the collective goal to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
“Ngayong nakabangon na tayo, halina’t umusad na rin po tayo; halina’t akayin ang kapwa’t ituon ang paningin sa hinaharap; halina’t pagpagin ang mga agam-agam at dumiretso tungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap,” he said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)