2-year extension of HR victims' claims pushed in Senate

MANILA, Philippines –  Senator Teofisto Guingona III has filed a bill seeking a two-year extension for human rights victims during martial law to file their claims for compensation and recognition.

In filing Senate Bill No. 2418 or "An Act Extending The Deadline To File Claims Under The Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 Or Republic Act No. 10368,” Guingona said there is not enough time for all the claims to be filed by November 10, 2014, the deadline set by the government.

"Keenly aware that the original deadline of November 10, 2014 is fast approaching, it is clear that the entire operation will take more time than originally anticipated," he said.

The senator noted that as of  September 2014, the  Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) has received over 17,000 claims under the law, but many more claimants have yet file due to various factors.

“Unfortunately, many more are still coming to file claims. In spite of the best efforts of the Board in reaching out to communities and persons all over the country and even to Filipinos living abroad, much more work has to be done if we are to give  some measure of justice to all deserving claimants,” Guingona said.

He said that the 1987 Constitution guarantees the dignity of every human person and full respect for human right.

"This is not simply an empty declaration but a promise that we have chosen to operationalize through Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation. and Recognition Act of  2013," Guingona said.

Under Guingona's proposed bill, the HRVCB will be provided with funds to fulfill its mandate.

On September 21, the 42th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, Akbayan party-list Representative Barry Gutierrez reiterated calls to extend the deadline for the filing of claims by victims of human rights abuse during the Marcos regime.

Gutierrez had earlier filed Joint House Resolution No. 16 seeking to move the deadline from November 10, 2014, to May 2015, or a 6-month extension.

He had cited the same concerns raised by Guingona.

The HRVCB had vowed to speed up the process of distributing the claims of the victims. – Rappler.com