Photo by Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and former members of the defunct Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) warned the public against groups exorting money for new reparatory applications.
They are no longer processing new claims anymore said the former members of the HRVCB because the board has ceased operating last May 12, 2018 as provided by the law.
"There are no members of the HRVCB authorized to go around and accept appeals or whatever possibility of reversing the decision of the HRVCB because it is no longer existing at the moment," former HRVCB chair Lina Sarmiento said in a press conference on Thursday, September 13.
Created through Republic Act No. 10368, the HRVCB was mandated "to receive, evaluate, process, and investigate" reparation claims made by victims of human rights violations under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' Martial Law.
During its 4-year existence, about 11,103 claimants were granted and awarded monetary reparations out of the 75,730 people who applied.
A certain group called Human Rights Victims’ Claims Association, however, continues to allegedly organize and solicit money from victims whose applications were denied across the Philippines since July 2018.
Claimants 1081, an organization of Martial Law victims, collated reports showing that this group gets as much as P10,000 per person for processing of new applications and appeals before the decommissioned HRVCB.
“May mga ipinapakalat ang mga scammers sa iba’t ibang lugar na meron pang pending money that will be available for the denied claimants at ito raw ay nakasampa sa Congress,” Claimants 1081 Executive Director Zeny Mique said.
“Ito ang ginagamit nila to organize the denied claimants, those who were not able to file,” she added.
(There are scammers spreading information in different areas that there are still pending money that will be available for the denied claimants and we are just waiting for the Congress. This is what the organizers use to fool the denied claimants or those who haven't filed.)
Rappler has reached out to the group but has yet to receive a response as of posting time.
No law for new applications
Sarmiento stressed that there is no pending bill in the Congress for the opening of new applications. What is pending is the joint resolution which will extend the life of the unclaimed checks, which the Senate is yet to tackle. (READ: House OKs longer validity of Martial Law victims' compensation)
Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit urges victims to reach out to CHR regional offices if they have any information or question regarding compensation.
"No one stops them from actually forming a group to have that advocacy, that is welcome, but ang hindi welcome is ang pagsasamantala sa kapwa mo kasi kinukuhanan mo sila ng pera at ang binibigay mong impormasyon ay hindi tama at mali," (...What's not right is if you fool others because you get money from them in exchange of wrong information.), she said
Mique, meanwhile, said that the group is taking advantage of the sentiments of the victims who were denied reparations, adding that if there would be a new law providing for another round of compensation, they will absolutely help them.
"Sana naman huwag nila samantalahin ang mga sentimyento ng mga denied na claimants na syempre sa kagustuhan nila na makakuha ng compensation, kapag may lumapit sa kanila ay talagang nagkakagulo at dali-daling sumasali at nagbabayad sa mga tao na ito," she said.
(Please don't take advantage of the sentiments of the denied claimants who just want to get compensation because if someone approaches them, they really believe the wrong information they give and they even pay.) – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.