THE COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) has appealed to the public not to politicize the redistribution of financial reparations for human rights-abuse victims during the Marcos regime.
“Our commitment is to ensure that we can urgently proceed with the redistribution of financial reparations, mindful of the recognition and reparation that victims of human rights violations under the Marcos martial law deserve. Our appeal is to also not politicize this process and allow this measure to give way to transitional justice. Through this, we can honor the triumph of the victims of martial law and bring back to the people the ill-gotten wealth that was amassed during the dictatorship,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia said via text on Saturday evening, March 2.
This is in response to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signing of the joint resolution extending the maintenance, availability, and release of the funds intended for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.
“Even from the beginning, the Commission has urged the government to craft means in hurdling the challenges that confront the distribution of the said financial reparations — given the operational limitations of Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act (RA 10368), and the subsequent law (RA 10766) that extended the life of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) in the face of voluminous application for reparation claims,” Ms. de Guia added.
She said the HRVCB only expected around “20,000 claims, but received more than 75,000 applications, with a total of 11,103 claims approved and duly recognized, and 6,737 appeals resolved.”
She explained that when the law’s sunset clause took effect, the commission “had no legal basis to assume the mandate of the HRVCB, which, by law, is a separate and distinct agency from CHR.”
“The CHR equally wishes to clarify that the signing of the said joint resolution does not reopen the application for new claims and the appeals process,” Ms. de Guia said.
The signed Joint Resolution No. 4, she also said, “strictly pertains to pending cheques from the previously granted applications that have not been encashed for varying reasons, such as failure to give prior advice on the death of claimants and inability to comply with the process of extrajudicial settlement of estate to name a few.”
“We remind the public to be wary of groups and personalities who seek to exploit the victims of human rights violations by twisting facts on the newly signed resolution.”She said further that the process undertaken by the HRVCB for financial reparation “is also different from the case filed by American human rights law Robert Swift, who won a class suit filed in Hawaii in 1986 on behalf of 9,353 claimants.”
“At this point, the CHR is in the process of coordinating with all relevant agencies, such as the Department of Budget and Management, Bureau of Treasury, and the Land Bank of the Philippines to restart the process of attending to stale, uncashed, or unclaimed cheques. The initial coordination shall not be immediate and will take at least two (2) months before CHR can distribute the granted financial reparations again since the funds have already been reverted to the Treasury and will have to be requested back,” Ms. de Guia also said. — Arjay L. Balinbin