Human rights victims to receive compensation

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Sunday, February 27, 2011


VICTIMS of human rights violations during the Martial Law years will get their compensation Monday after a United States court approved the distribution of $7.5 million to settle a class action suit filed against former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family.

"Twelve victims of Martial law will initially be rewarded a modest but meaningful sum in the local currency equivalent to $1,000 each as compensation for their torture, disappearance and summary executions," said Rod Domingo, the victims' Filipino counsel.

Domingo said his American co-counsel Robert Swift, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Etta Rosales, former senator Rene Saguisag and Fr. Joaquin Bernas will attend the awarding ceremony, which will be held at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

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Rosales was herself one of the victims.

Monday's event will be a prelude to the full distribution of checks to qualified claimants on Tuesday, March 1.

Domingo said claimants in the National Capital Region (NCR) are expected to appear and receive their respective compensations on Tuesday at the CHR office in Quezon City.

Distribution of compensations in the same amount throughout the country will follow, he added.

Last month, US Federal District Judge in Honolulu, Hawaii Manuel Real approved the distribution of the $7.5 million to the victims. The distribution will provide the victims their first opportunity to collect since they sued the Marcoses in 1986.

Earlier, Swift said claimants from Metro Manila must appear in person at the CHR office in Quezon City, and distribution will last only until March 7, with claimants assigned a single day for processing their claims based on their last names.

He said claimants who fail to come on their "designated date" may come on the afternoon of March 7.

He also asked them to bring the original notice they received, and at least two valid identification cards, such as passport, voter's ID, driver's license, or National Bureau of Investigation clearance.

A special power of attorney issued to a relative by the claimant will not be honored, and that relatives must present a death certificate in case the claimant is already deceased.

The initial batch of claimants was part of the 7,526 who were granted the indemnification out of the 9,539 victims who joined the class action suit against Marcos and his family.

The number has been reduced from the 9,539 due to questions of eligibility, prompting one of the groups in the class action suit, the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), to question the de-listing.

Fr. Dionito Cabillas, Selda secretary general, said Domingo and Swift should explain the basis of the de-listing, adding that many of those removed from the list of claimants have transferred residence, and, thus were unable to receive the second notice from the court sent in 1999.

The first notice was issued in 1993.

The landmark decision by the US federal court in 1995 found the Marcos estate liable for torture, summary executions, and forced disappearances of about 10,000 people and awarded the victims a total of $2 billion in damages.

Swift said the litigation to collect the 1995 judgment continues, so there could be additional distributions in the future. (AH/Sunnex)

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