Finally, Martial Law victims receive 1st tranche of money
MANILA, Philippines – Years after the passing of a law that declared they deserved compensation for the abuses they suffered under the Marcos regime, Martial Law victims received on Monday, May 8, the first tranche of money from the human rights claims board.
At least 317 Martial Law victims from Metro Manila received cash cards containing the first tranche of their monetary compensation from the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board (HRVCB), which was created by a law passed under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.
HRVCB Chairperson Lina Sarmiento said these victims have been verified to be living in the capital and have received the resolution for compensation.
The second tranche will be given after all the pending claims are finalized. "Right now, we still have more than 35,000 pending claims," Sarmiento said.
The amount given to victims is determined by a point system depending on the gravity of the human rights violation they suffered – from illegal detention to torture and death.
Thus, cash received by each victim varies from P12,500 to P875,000 (equivalent to reparations for 7 individuals claimed by a single person) per person.
The board has received a total of 75,000 claims of human rights violations, around 53% of which has already been decided on. Last March, the board released an initial list of 4,000 claimants who can already receive their money.
Compensation for the remaining claimants living in the provinces will be released starting next week. (READ: What the gov't still owes Martial Law victims)
The money is sourced from the estimated P10 billion in ill-gotten wealth recovered from the Marcoses.
Martial Law victims and their families have been waiting and fighting for compensation for decades. Mixed emotions were felt as they received the portion of the reparation, especially since the late strongman was buried at the heroes' cemetery only last year upon the go-signal from President Rodrigo Duterte and the Supreme Court.
Alice Hilao-Gualberto, the 75-year-old sister of prominent Martial Law victim Liliosa Hilao, said she is not as excited since they were supposed to receive this years ago.
"I'm not so excited because it has been a long time ago that this is expected... And even if there's reparation, the Marcoses have not apologized to the Filipino people that they committed anything," Gualberto told Rappler.
Given a choice, she said she would like to see a scholarship program established in her sister's name. Hilao was a student activist at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Political analyst and Institute for Political and Electoral Reform executive director Ramon Casiple, who was tortured in 1974, also received his compensation on Monday.
He said it is closure of a chapter in his life. "We have fought for this since 1986. Of course, there is the joy that the compensation you have fought for is already here," he said.
But the closure remains partial since the Marcos family has neither acknowledged nor apologized for the abuses.
June Talio, an urban poor leader during Martial Law, said he is happy with the money received from the government. "Pera pa rin, ito 'di ba? Pero kung babayaran iyong parusang inabot namin, hindi sapat 'to, hindi sapat o mabigat iyong inabot namin nung panahon ng Martial Law," said Talio.
(This is still money, right? But if you would pay for all our sufferings then, this is not enough. This is not enough to compensate for what we went through under Martial Law.)
For Boni Ilagan, convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) and human rights watchdog Selda, the release of the reparation is more than just an act of receiving compensation for damages.
"More than the financial, kami sa Selda ay naniniwala pa rin na ito ay pruweba ng matagal nang sinisigaw na ang human rights violation ay siyang naging katangian ng Martial Law. This is a vindication of what we've been saying all along," said Ilagan.
(We at Selda believe that this is proof of our longstanding call that human rights violations marred Martial Law. This is a vindication of what we've been saying all along.)
Thousands of cases to go
Signed in 2013, Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act stipulates that the claims board will only be operational until May 2018.
Victims are also entitled to non-monetary compensation such as social services from agencies such as the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The HRVCB said it has signed agreements with these agencies, but during the event, former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo said specific guidelines should be set so that victims may be able to avail of these non-monetary compensation.
The law also states that a memorial must be built recognizing the sacrifices of Martial Law victims – something that has yet to be established by the Human Rights Violations Victims' Commission, which is headed by the Commission on Human Rights. – Rappler.com