Makabayan solons want reparations for martial law victims

Makabayan bloc lawmakers are seeking reparations for victims of human rights violations (HRV) and proper documentation of such HRVs that took place during the martial law era under the administration of late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

(From left to right) Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, and Gabriela Women's Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas (Makabayan photo)

On Thursday, Aug. 11, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, and Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas filed House Bill (HB) 3505, also known as the proposed “New Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2022.”

The bill mandates that qualified HRV victims or the victims’ legal heirs will receive tax-free monetary reparation from the government. This amount would be adjusted in proportion to the HRV inflicted on the victim.

Victims who were killed, “disappeared and are still missing", “tortured and/or raped or sexually abused", detained, involuntarily exiled, intimidated, and kidnapped; as well as their families, are eligible to receive reparations.

The funds would be sourced from the ill-gotten wealth accrued by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was remitted to the Bureau of Treasury.

The bill also directs the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHed), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to render their services as non-monetary reparations for HRV victims and their families.

It also mandates the creation of a Human Rights Violation Victims’ Recognition and Reparation Board as an attached agency to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). It will be tasked to evaluate the claims of HRV victims, resolve claim disputes, and promulgate the rules necesarry to execute the provisions of HB 3505.

“Upon the effectivity of the former law on reparations for victims of human rights violations during martial law, more than 75,000 applicants filed their claims, but only 11,103 were approved and duly recognized by the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) until the board became functus officio on May 12, 2018. The HRVCB was able to completely resolve the 6,737 appeals as of May 6, 2018,” the authors wrote in their explanatory note.

They were referring to Republic Act (RA) 10368 approved on Feb. 25, 2013, and had a similar title to HB 3505. The “functus officio” designation of the HRVCB means that its legal mandate as a government agency has expired.

“This bill seeks to continue the processing of claims for recognition and reparation by human rights violations victims under Marcos Sr.'s regime and the reconstitution of the Board to process their claims,” the explanatory note read.

After the bill filing, the Makabayan bloc held a press conference with Bayan Muna President Saturnino Ocampo; and an HRV survivor, human rights activist Edith Castro.

“A New Act Providing for Reparation and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Regime, Documentation of Said Violations, Appropriating Funds Thereof and for Other Purposes" is the complete title of the bill.

“For true unity to prosper, we must acknowledge the injustices wrought by Martial Law, and provide the proper compensation to the victims. This is justice that they are owed, and must be delivered to them,” the authors added.