45,000 rights victims beat deadline for claims
MANILA, Philippines–The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) has received more than 45,000 claims from human rights victims during the martial law regime wanting to get part of the P10-billion reparation fund.
As of midnight on Monday, the HRVCB main office in Quezon City had processed a total of 45,466 claims as the filing deadline struck at midnight.
HRVCB chair Lina Sarmiento said the claims filed in the regional offices had not yet been brought to Manila.
This would bring the total figure much higher than the initial estimates that ranged from 20,000 to 30,000 claims.
The legally mandated application period for the claims ran from May 12 to Nov. 10 this year as prescribed by Republic Act No. 10368, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
This was the third time victims of Ferdinand Marcos’ martial regime from 1972 to 1986 received some compensation for their suffering.
The special law, signed by President Aquino in February 2013, provides recognition and reparations, both monetary and nonmonetary, to victims of human rights violations during martial law.
Their names shall also be enshrined in the Roll of Victims of Human Rights Violations, in acknowledgment of their heroism and sacrifices.
Following acceptance of an application, the HRVCB shall then deliberate on it to determine its legitimacy and entitlement to an award which would come from a P10-billion reparation fund confiscated as part of the illegal wealth amassed by Marcos, his relatives and cronies.
The award will depend on a point system based on degree or type of abuse suffered by the victim.
Acceptance of applications
The board will release an initial list of qualified claimants, which may be appealed or contested until a final list is released.
“After all the claims shall have been decided upon, the distribution of the award shall be set and announced publicly,” Sarmiento said.
Previously, the board had begun evaluating the first claims filed while the acceptance of applications was going on.
“But we stopped the evaluation when we needed to give attention to the acceptance of applications,” said board member Aurora Parong, herself a victim of abuse during the Marcos dictatorship.
For documented cases of human rights abuses, the HRVCB will scrutinize documents such as government-issued release papers, court records and newspaper clippings.
In cases where the incident was not well-documented, the HRVCB will double-check supporting affidavits of witnesses with the reports of abuse suffered by the victim.
Parong said they had one year to evaluate, verify and investigate the claims. The HRVCB will close out its term on May 10, 2016, as prescribed by law.
“Aside from the extension of the application period, we are thinking of asking for an extension of the term of the HRVCB,” she said.
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