Joker just wants recognition under HR law

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2013 - 5:34pm

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Joker Arroyo said Tuesday that he will not claim any compensation from Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, the new law that aims to compensate victims of martial law during the Marcos regime.

“Many of those who will ask for recognition will not ask for compensation, but in the honor roll, they will be included alongside with everyone else,” Arroyo said, reacting to the law signed by President Aquino on Monday.

He assured that the P10-billion plus P500-million incremental revenue, which are intended to fund the law out of the seized Swiss deposits, remain intact.

Arroyo added that the success of the human rights law will depend on the “confidence, partiality and knowledge” of the members of the Board, which will be created to determine the veracity of those who will be awarded with the compensation.

He said the members of the Board should have knowledge of the HR violations during martial law and are involved in efforts to protect human rights.

“That P500-million will be spent for the memorial, museum and library that would be a record of the suffering of each of those in the honor roll of victims,”  Arroyo said.

Arroyo participated in the trials of political detainees including the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., former Senators Jovito Salonga and Eva Kalaw, then lawyers Aquilino Pimentel Jr, Renato Tanada, Eduardo Olaguer, then Cebu politician and now Sen, Sergio Osmena III, and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder and UP professor Jose Mario Sison, and ABS CBN executive Eugenio Lopez Jr.

Arroyo was the very first lawyer who questioned former President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law declaration before the Supreme Court. Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 23, 1972.

“During that time Marcos issued a general order forbidding anyone to challenge his decrees,” Arroyo recalled.

He also challenged the constitutionality of amendment #6, which gave Marcos legislative powers alongside the Batasan Pambansa.

Arroyo had his share of physical and mental tortures having been incarcerated in a military stockade, gassed, injured and hospitalized during protest rallies.

Asked if he will file any claim, Senator Sergio Osmeña, who was also among those who were imprisoned at Fort Bonifacio during the martial law years, said his name has been in the list since the beginning.

Osmeña said he was among the 7,526 victims who received $1,000  last year. The money came from the $7.5-million which a federal judge in Honolulu which was used to settle a lawsuit filed by the victims of torture, execution and abduction under the Marcos regime.

The senator said he donated the $1,000 compensation to the Free Legal Assistance Group, which is defending human rights victims.

Osmeña was jailed for five years along with Eugenio Lopez Jr. in Nov. 1974. The duo went on a hunger strike to protect the unjust detention of many other victims.  This prompted the release of 1,022 political prisoners in 1974.

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