“We seriously hope that the Human Rights Victims Claims Board will be composed soonest. Martial law victims cannot afford to be disenfranchised, much more neglected again.” – SELDA
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – After two months and a half since the passage of Republic Act 10368 or the Martial Law Victims Reparation and Recognition Act, the Aquino administration has not yet formed the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), an organization of former political prisoners that filed the Hawaii class-suit against the Marcoses, raised concern on the government’s failure to form the body that shall process the application for reparation and recognition of martial law victims.
Under the law, a Human Rights Victims Claims Board will be formed within 30 days so it could proceed to formulate the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) after which it can start with its evaluation and processing of the claims of the martial law victims under the Marcos dictatorship. The President shall appoint the members of the Claims Board.
“It has been two and half months since President Aquino signed the bill into law. Within these months, Selda learned that several martial law victims have died due to their illnesses without having seen the implementation of the said law. Again, we reiterate what is taking the government too long to implement the law?” Selda national coordinator Roneo Clamor asked.
The law, the first of its kind in the world, provides $246 million in compensation for those who were persecuted by the dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Selda is named as one of the five organizations that may nominate members of the Claims Board. The group submitted five nominees on March 12: its national chairperson, a multi-awarded artist who was detained twice, a UP College of Medicine faculty member, a lawyer from Cebu and another from General Santos City, for the Board. Tanggol Bayi, an organization of women human rights defenders, meanwhile, nominated a former congresswoman and a former member of the UP Board of Regents.
The groups described their nominees as individuals “with integrity, competence and probity and who understand the plight of the martial law victims.”
Clamor lamented that up to the present, Selda is kept in the dark about the Board’s formation. “The absence of information about the Claims Board raises questions as to Malacanang’s transparency in forming the Board and the possibility that for political reasons not even one of Selda’s nominees will be appointed. This will deprive the victims of a genuine voice in the Board,” Clamor explained.
“We seriously hope that the Human Rights Victims Claims Board will be composed soonest. Martial law victims cannot afford to be disenfranchised, much more neglected again. The law was a victory for the victims. We cannot allow our efforts to go down the drain,” Clamor said.