Law compensating rights victims approved

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The reactionary Senate and Congress passed on January 28 the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. Representatives of progressive parties led by Bayan Muna succeeded in demanding the automatic recognition of 10,000 victims who won a class suit against Marcos in 1994 at the US District Court in Hawaii.

The new law calls for the use of `10 billion from the Marcoses’ recovered ill-gotten wealth as damages for the victims, in accordance with the disposition of a Human Rights Compensation Board to be constituted from representatives of Task Force Detainees, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances, Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism, Inc., Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and the Free Legal Assistance Group.

The law’s significance to the victims goes beyond the issue of financial compensation. It serves as a formal document acknowledging that human rights abuses really transpired during the dictatorship; that the people’s struggle was just; and that their sacrifices and heroism are recognized.

Crucial to the law’s progress from the time the bill was filed in 1986 was the neverending militancy of the victims led by SELDA. Recently, SELDA condemned Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chair Andres Bautista for saying that the victims should drop their struggle regarding the class suit because of the existence of a bill granting them compensation.