Aquino pressed on human rights compensation law

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Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Why sign a law if you’re not going to implement it?

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares has castigated President Aquino for “refusing” to implement the law that provides compensation to human rights violations victims during martial law.

The money to be given to the victims would come from a P10-billion fund sourced from the ill-gotten wealth recovered from the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino signed the measure into law in February during the celebration of the 1986 People Power revolution.

But the promise of recognition and reparation for the martial law victims has not come nearly 10 months later, and Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) is just around the corner.

Colmenares, in a privilege speech on Monday night, said the President’s failure to appoint members of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board that would oversee the distribution of the P10 billion fund was the reason the law could not be implemented.

Without the board, which would also be tasked to come up with the implementing rules and regulations, the process of compensating the victims could not begin, Colmenares said.

“He did not fail to implement the law. He refuses to implement it,” Colmenares said of the President.

Congress should exercise its power of oversight and investigate the nonimplementation of the law that it approved, he added.

Human rights groups have long submitted nominees for the board positions but it seems the President has yet to choose from among them.

There have been repeated calls from various groups in the past few months for the President to appoint the members, to no avail.

Colmenares said he was baffled why the President has yet to constitute the board, and could not help but ask if the P10-billion fund for the victims was still available.

Colmenares also stressed in his speech that with the continued delay in the law’s implementation, many of the martial law human rights violations victims have been dying without getting official remuneration.

“There is a saying that no matter how long a procession lasts, it will end at the church. But under the Aquino administration, the long procession ends at the cemetery,” he said.

Among the victims that passed away before seeing the law implemented were human rights lawyer and former Marikina lawmaker Romeo Candazo and activist, artist and director Behn Cervantes.

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