Editorial - Restitution
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2013 - 12:00am

It took several decades, but tomorrow, on the 27th anniversary of the collapse of the Marcos regime, the only son and namesake of the most prominent victim of martial law will sign a measure that will provide compensation to victims of human rights violations under dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

For the thousands of martial law victims, there can be no price tag for the suffering they underwent at the hands of state forces during the Marcos dictatorship. The enactment of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act tomorrow, however, marks the first time that the state is compensating anyone for systematic human rights abuses.

It is significant that the measure will be signed into law by the only son of Benigno Aquino Jr., whose assassination at the Manila airport tarmac on Aug. 21, 1983 galvanized a series of mass protests. These mass actions culminated in the four-day popular revolution that achieved what seemed impossible: the ouster of a dictator.

It is also significant that the bulk of the compensation will be sourced from secret bank deposits seized from the Marcoses by Swiss authorities and turned over to the Philippine government. The Swiss hope the restitution – also a landmark for their government and banking system – would serve as a warning for corrupt despots around the world that there is no safe haven for ill-gotten wealth.

The end of authoritarian rule, however, has not put an end to the accumulation of dirty money, or even to human rights violations by state forces in the land of people power. When President Aquino signs the compensation law tomorrow, it must be accompanied by a commitment to do more in achieving the aims of people power. For human rights victims, the best gift is to institutionalize measures that will prevent others from suffering their fate.

BENIGNO AQUINO JR. COMPENSATION FERDINAND MARCOS HUMAN HUMAN RIGHTS VICTIMS REPARATION AND RECOGNITION ACT LAW MARCOS MARCOSES RIGHTS VICTIMS WHEN PRESIDENT AQUINO
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