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August 22, 2012

COUNTDOWN ON THE SENATE’S APPROVAL OF THE COMPENSATION BILL FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS VICTIMS DURING MARTIAL LAW

The Commission on Human Rights supports the call of human rights organizations and victims organizations for the Senate to enact the bill to indemnify and bring justice to the victims of human rights violations during martial law.

The Commission expressed its high expectation that the Senate will take swifter action on its version of the Compensation Bill. Together with our partner stakeholders, we will keep a daily action watch on Senate Bill 2615, authored by Senator Sergio Osmeña, now still pending at the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The month-long countdown, ending September 21, 2012, will continue to demand for the Senate version to be taken up in plenary session for eventual approval. This will pave way for the convening of a Bicameral Conference Committee that will reconcile differing provisions with the version of the House of Representatives that the latter had approved last March 2012.

The bill is different and separate from the historic class suit judgment against Ferdinand Marcos in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the court found the dictator guilty of gross and systematic violations of human rights consisting of torture, summary executions and involuntary disappearances. Last year, the Commission on Human Rights assisted in the distribution of checks in the amount of $1,000.00 each to the victims in partial settlement of the US Court award in 1992 of $1.2 billion in exemplary damages and $776 million in compensatory damages to the 9,539 plaintiffs whose rights were grossly violated during the martial law period. In contrast, the bill provides for compensation to the victims as a matter of state responsibility under International Human Rights Standards. Once approved by Congress and eventually signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III, the measure will appropriate P10 billion from ill-gotten wealth of Marcos returned to the Philippines by the Swiss government in 1998.

With this intensive lobbying campaign, we want to politely remind our legislators and this administration that the compensation of and justice for the victims can no longer be delayed.

Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson