Bill on compensation for human rights victims awaits ratificationBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The final version of the compensation bill for victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos is now awaiting ratification, after the bicameral conference committee on Wednesday ironed out the last of the contentious provisions in the measure.
The panel agreed that there would be a “conclusive presumption” that over 9,000 plaintiffs in a Hawaii class action suit against the Marcoses are human rights victims entitled to compensation, according to Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
At the same time, the bicameral panel scrapped the earlier proposal that 80 percent of the compensation fund be set aside for the Hawaii claimants and the remaining 20 percent be given to all other claimants who did not join the case, according to Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III.
Instead, the P10 billion compensation fund would be made equally available to all claimants, with the amount they receive depending on the kind of abuse they suffered. The amount would be determined by a board that would use a point system, with higher points given to those who suffered graver abuses.
Several lawmakers earlier questioned the 80-20 ratio, saying it was unfair to give such a big part of the fund to the Hawaii claimants when thousands of other victims may have opted out of the case, and that it could be constitutionally infirm for violating the equal protection clause.
The “conclusive presumption” clause was a contentious point in previous bicameral meetings. The Senate version only stated that there would be a “disputable presumption” that the Hawaii claimants are martial law victims, meaning that their claims could be challenged. The House version batted for conclusive presumption.
Victims’ groups also insisted on the conclusive presumption, saying that if this would not be the case, they may have to again endure the painful and rigorous process of proving their rights were violated during martial law.
Colmenares said the automatic recognition of Hawaii claimants as martial law victims was just proper and would be a recognition of their long fight to hold the Marcoses accountable.