MANILA, Feb 28 (Mabuhay) – As the first batch of human rights victims during the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ regime receive compensation Monday, a leader of the House of Representatives said efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the violations should continue.
“As an element of transitional justice, reparation must be complemented by seeking the truth behind the abominable human rights violations, prosecuting and holding to account the perpetrators and reforming institutions to guarantee non-repetition,” Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said in a statement.
“These are urgent challenges that the Aquino administration must forthwith confront,” he added.
Twenty-one years after the human rights victims filed a case before a court in Hawaii, where Marcos and his family sought exile in 1986, the first batch of 12 victims, represented by their families, will receive $1,000 each.
Last month, Judge Manuel Real of the US District Court of Hawaii approved the distribution of $7.5 million to 7,526 eligible members of the class-action lawsuit. There were 9,539 members at the beginning of the case but some 2,000 did not meet court requirements, the Associated Press reported.
It added that the funds to be distributed come from a $10 million settlement of a case against individuals controlling Texas and Colorado land bought with Marcos money, but some $2.5 million was deducted for legal fees and payment to the person who located the properties.
Lagman said the $1,000 may be “minuscule” compared to the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, but the awarding of compensation to the victims was “a significant step toward transitional justice.”
Lagmanâ€™s brother, Hermon, was one of the victims of involuntary disappearance during the martial law years. Their mother will receive the compensation during Mondayâ€™s ceremonies at the Club Filipino in San Juan City.
The lawmaker said the court-ordered compensation should remind the nation about the patriotism and nationalism of the victims who fought the dictatorship. He said they should be honored as the real heroes of Edsa for paving the way for the bloodless revolution.
“It is they who should be honored and not the opportunist self-proclaimed leaders who are actually mere beneficiaries of the People Power uprising,” Lagman said.
At the House, a consolidated bill will be up for approval by the members of the human rights committee to compensate some 10,000 Marcos victims.
Deputy Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tanada III said the committee was expected to approve the consolidated bill on March 7.
The bill covers P10 billion from the Swiss account of the Marcoses that was transferred to the Philippine government. This is distinct from the $1,000 compensation that the victims will get following the Hawaii court judgment. (MNS)