By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has approved a measure extending the availability and release of funds for victims of human rights violations during the martial law regime, Malacañang announced Thursday.
In Joint Resolution No. 4, the distribution of the P10-billion reparation for approved and qualified claimants would be extended until December 31, 2019.
The resolution, signed by the President last February 22, was announced by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea Thursday. A copy was also released to the media the same day.
Under the resolution, the Bureau of Treasury and Land Bank of the Philippines have been authorized to release the funds and ensure payment of the claims made by the martial law victims.
The Commission on Human Rights has also been assigned to administer the effective distribution of the funds to qualified victims or their heirs or representatives as provided by Republic Act No. 10368 also known as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 as amended by RA 10766.
The latest presidential action sought to address the time constraint on the distribution of funds and allow the claimants to encash their checks, according to Medialdea.
“Ang tagal nang hawak-hawak nila yun, di ba? Kung hindi namain binulabog ni Presidente iyan, hindi pa lalabas yan [They’ve held it for a long time, right? If the President did not call their attention, it will not be released],” Medialdea said in an interview with Palace reporters in Manila.
“It was only two years ago when we called the members of the commission…Ano ba ito? Hindi pa tapos ginagawa nyo, kung tapos na I-release nyo na, kung di pa tapos, bayaran nyo na, kung may kulang pa compensation [It was only two years ago when we called the members of the commission and asked ‘What’s this? Why haven’t you completed your work? If it’s complete, release the funds. It not, pay the compensation],” he said.
The resolution stated that as of June 28, 2018, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) reported the remaining balance of P792.628 million with the Land Bank. The unclaimed funds were supposed to be reverted to the treasury bureau by August 11, 2018.
As of May 2018, the board has approved 11,103 legitimate claimants out of more than 75,000 applications as well as resolved 6,737 appeals. The checks issued by the board for the victims were only valid up to three months from issuance.
The board has also issued 451 so-called “problematic” checks to the victims, 291 checks worth P239.198 million representing unreleased checks, and 160 checks amounting to P110.931 million representing checks issued to payees now deceased.
“The Commission on Human Rights and HRVCB have created a transition team to assist the claimants in the remaining months. However, there have been reports from several approved claimants’ relatives that they were not able to encash the checks even with the issuance of Special Power of Attorney,” the resolution read.
“Many of the claimants are concerned of the time constraint to process matters relating to the distribution of monetary claims until 11 August 2018,” it added.
The board, mandated to process claims and distribute reparation for victims, ceased operations last year. A team from the CHR was created to deliver the remaining financial reparations.