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Senate ready to discuss Human Rights Compensation Act

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate is now ready to discuss before the plenary the Human Rights Compensation Act of 2012 that will compensate hundreds of victims during the martial law years.

The Senate  committee on  justice and human rights and on finance came out with Committee Report 846, allocating the P10-billion plus accrued interest out of the 1997 order of the Swiss Federal Court declaring some assets of the Marcos family as illegally obtained wealth.

Senators Sergio Osmeña III, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, and Franklin Drilon are the primary authors of the HR Compensation Act in the Senate. The four senators are all perceived allies of President Aquino whose father, late former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was also one of the prominent victims of the martial law regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Under the definition of terms, human rights violation shall include, but not limited to, any of the following acts or omissions committed during the period from Sept. 21, 1972 to Feb. 25, 1986 by persons acting in an official capacity and /or agents of the Senate.

The human rights violation would also cover invalid arrests and warrantless arrests and detention carried out during the declaration of martial law during the Marcos regime as well as “any arrest or detention or deprivation of liberty carried out on or before Feb. 25, 1986 on the basis of an “Arrest and Seizure Order (ASSO)” and “Presidential Commitment Order” (PCO) or a “Preventive Detention Action” (PDA).

The measure also aims to compensate victims of torture or violation of human rights including but not limited to persons peacefully exercising civil or political rights, including but not limited to the freedom of speech, assembly or organization; and/or the right to petition the government for redress or organization.

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Also covered are those who were placed under involuntary exile from the Philippines during the Marcos regime.

Under the measure, the persons named as class suit plaintiffs in the Human Rights Litigation Against the Estate of Ferdinand Marcos and in whose favor a final and executory judgment has been rendered by the US District Court in the State of Hawaii “shall be extended the disputable presumption that they are  human rights violations victims.”

As for compensation, the amount shall be in proportion to the gravity of the human rights violation committed on the HR violation victim (HRVV).

The measure also provides the source of funding the funds transferred through the Dec. 10, 1997 order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court and presently held in escrow in connection with Civil Case No. 141. Under this court ruling, the Swiss Supreme Court had also rendered judgment in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.

The measure also provides the documentation of any HRVV who shall seek compensation, by executing a detailed sworn statement, accompanied by photographs, letters, death certificates, pleadings and other judicial or quasi-judicial documents. 

Such documents shall be submitted to the Human Rights Claims Board for processing and approval.

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