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Panelo: Not a victim if you fought government

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday said “innocent” victims caught in the crossfire between the government and its “enemies” should be compensated.

Panelo, however, said those who were fighting the government could not call themselves victims (of human rights violations) and might not receive compensation.

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He did not say whether he was referring to Filipinos who had fought the Marcos dictatorship.

“Whatever compensation that is commensurate to their suffering” should be paid out “if you really suffered, for example, the innocents,” he said.

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Panelo made the remarks during a press briefing at Malacañang after he declined to comment on the decision of three government agencies not to share with victims of human rights violations under Ferdinand Marcos part of the proceeds from the sale of paintings seized from an aide to the dictator’s widow, Imelda.

“I do not know exactly the grounds for the opposition of the solicitor general. I have to know that before I can make a proper intelligent response,” he said.

Panelo said there were abuses committed that the leader or the President would not be aware of. “Just the same, there are victims of violations of human rights. Certainly they should be compensated,” he said.

Settlement deal rejected

“It would be different if they are enemies of the government,” he said. “If you are trying to kill the government, naturally, the government will fight back. You cannot then say that you are a victim if you want to kill the soldiers of the government and then they retaliate.”

On March 11, the Office of the Solicitor General,  Department of Justice and  Presidential Commission on Good Government decided to reject a settlement deal on the $32-million proceeds from the sale of the paintings, including a Monet, for being “disadvantageous to the government and not in accord with existing Philippine laws and jurisprudence.”

A US federal court in New York approved the settlement agreement in which $13.75 million of the $32 million would be distributed to 6,500 Filipinos who won a class action lawsuit for human rights violations against the Marcos estate, $4 million to the government and the remainder to be split between Golden Buddha Corp. and the estate of Roger Roxas, who reportedly discovered the so-called Yamashita treasure.

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Distribution ordered

Lawyers for the class on Wednesday said US federal court Judge Katherine Failla had ruled that the settlement was binding on all parties and ordered them to start distributing the money. Each of the class members was to receive $1,500.

In a statement on Wednesday, the lawyers—American Robert Swift and Filipinos Rod Domingo and Ruben Fruto—said Judge Manuel Real, who presided over the lawsuit in Hawaii against Marcos for torture, summary execution and enforced disappearance, also approved the settlement agreement as “fair, reasonable and adequate under US law.”

The Hawaii court jury had awarded around $2 billion to the victims of human rights violations, but the amount could not be paid out because the Marcoses continued to hide their assets, according to the lawyers.

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TAGS: Government, Human rights, human rights violations, Marcos, Panelo, settlement, victims
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