EJK, trafficking victims now covered under DOJ compensation program | Inquirer News

EJK, trafficking victims now covered under DOJ compensation program

Survivors and victims of extrajudicial killing (EJK), human trafficking, online sexual abuse, and other grave human rights abuses may now seek compensation from the government after their inclusion in the victims’ compensation program run by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ has entered into an agreement with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to cover victims of such rights violations under the program originally intended for those who suffered illegal detention, enforced disappearance, or violent crime.

Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed on Thursday, the DOJ’s Board of Claims (BOC) would receive and facilitate referrals of “all interested and qualified applicants” from the CHR when investigating rights violations.


“This includes victims of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, unjust imprisonment, human trafficking, and online sexual exploitation, among others,” the CHR said in a statement.


Transitional justice

The commission said it would also be able to accept cases endorsed by the BOC that are not qualified for the compensation program but may be eligible for separate financial assistance from the CHR.

A victim who was already financially compensated by the CHR is not precluded from applying under the program, according to the DOJ.

“By broadening the reach of this compensation system through this cooperation agreement, we are ensuring recognition of the fundamental human rights and establishing accountability for violations or abuses—a step forward to a progressive realization of transitional justice,” CHR Chair Richard Palpal-latoc said at the signing event.

“We express our high hopes that this MOA will allow the CHR and the DOJ to take a more active role in assisting victims of human rights violations and abuses in claiming for compensation,” the CHR chief added.

During the event, DOJ and CHR officials urged Congress to expedite the passage of proposals to increase the maximum compensation under the program.

READ: DOJ: Groups, families help gov’t gather proof on EJKs


The victims’ compensation program was created under Republic Act No. 7309 to provide monetary compensation to victims of arbitrary or illegal detention, enforced or involuntary disappearances, and violent crimes, including offenses perpetrated with “malice or cruelty,” and resulting in physical or psychological harm, disability, insanity and “serious trauma committed through torture, cruelty, or barbarity.”

Under the law passed in 1992, victims of unjust imprisonment may receive up to P1,000 per month of imprisonment, while victims of violent crimes may receive up to P10,000, or the amount required to reimburse expenses incurred for wage loss, hospitalization, and medical treatment as a result of the violence.

Maximum compensation

Because submitting a claim for compensation could take too long, Congress established the BOC to oversee the administrative process for filing claims under the DOJ, which releases the monetary compensation to the program.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Jovyanne Santamaria, the BOC operations chief, said the maximum compensation for unjust imprisonment was P60,000, equivalent to five years of unjust imprisonment.

She said the proposal was to increase the compensation to P5,000 per month of unjust imprisonment and up to a maximum P300,000, equivalent to five years of unjust imprisonment.

Santamaria said there was another proposal to raise the maximum compensation for victims of violent crimes from P10,000 to P50,000.

Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco, the BOC head, said the referral system would benefit “not only persons who are entitled but are unaware of the victims compensation program, but also those who are beyond its scope.”

“The very creation of the victims compensation program recognizes that there are imperfections in our legal justice system, and gives the people a mode of directly seeking this recognition by way of compensation,” he said.

Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez, head of the DOJ’s human rights office, said the current range of compensation under the program was “no longer realistic.”

“We will try to coordinate with the OP (Office of the President) to make [the increase in compensation] a priority bill,” he said.

From 1992 to 2023, the BOC approved 52,234 claims amounting to P514.9 million.

Former prisoners who were subsequently released due to acquittal, who were subsequently released without being charged, and victims of arbitrary or illegal detention by authorities after final court judgment may also seek compensation.

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Most applicants for compensation were victims of violent crimes, including rape and trafficking, as well as offenses that resulted in death or serious physical injuries. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

TAGS: compensation, DoJ, EJK, trafficking

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