7 November 2010
“It’s about time that the victims under the Marcos dictatorship be accorded a component of justice by recognizing the sacrifice they have made in fighting for the people’s rights and freedoms. Pres. Benigno Aquino III should make good his word of ensuring that the long overdue measure in Congress seeking indemnification for the victims of Martial Law be immediately passed.”
Thus said Marie Hilao Enriquez, Chairperson of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and daughter of one of the original named plaintiffs in the historic class suit against Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.
Enriquez said that it has been more than two decades ago since the Marcos victims, led by SELDA, filed the class action suit against Marcos for crimes against humanity. In September 1992, the US Federal District Court of Hawaii decided in favor of the 9,539 Filipino victims and ordered the Marcoses to pay the victims almost $2B for damages. In 1997, the Swiss Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the then US$540 million Marcos ill-gotten Swiss deposits to an escrow account of the Philippine National Bank, in favor of the Philippine Government, and in which the victims who filed the class suit in Hawaii be considered by the government in the release of the funds.
“SELDA fully supports the renewed drive led by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, himself a Martial Law victim, Rep. Teodoro Casino and the progressive legislators’ bloc who refiled two bills, House Bills 954 and 1693, for the immediate passage of measures for the recognition and compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship. The four (4 – Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) administrations after Marcos have not rendered justice and were unable to decisively pass legislation to compensate the victims,” Enriquez said.
She said that the bill was already declared a priority legislation under the Arroyo administration, yet it was kept at bay even if the measure was already in its 3rd reading in the 14th Congress.
Enriquez also reiterated that the Hawaii class suit list of victims who remain as parties to the Human Rights Litigation Against the Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos (MDL 840) in the United States Federal Court System in Hawaii, must be recognized and given priority in the House bill for compensation. They must be considered automatically as victims of human rights violations and must be considered first in the indemnification; additional victims who did not participate in the class action suit in Hawaii may undergo a process in which a determination that they were victims of human rights violations will be conducted.
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) – Philippines is an organization of former political detainees in the country. Founded in December 4, 1984, SELDA was initiated by former political prisoners during the Martial Law period. It works for the unconditional release of all political prisoners and humane treatment of those who are still in detention; for the advocacy on the conditions of political prisoners, the fundamental reasons for their arrest and detention, and their struggle for justice; mobilization of resources for political prisoners and their families; legislative actions on the indemnification and rehabilitation of political detainees; and promotion of partnerships and solidarity with organizations for the freedom and welfare of political prisoners and victims of tyranny.