January 28, 2013
HUMAN RIGHTS REPARATION BILL RATIFIED
AFTER close to 20 years, victims of human rights abuses under the Marcos regime can finally claim compensation and reparation from the State.
Sen. Chiz Escudero announced that the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2012 was finally approved by both chambers of Congress. The bill will now be transmitted to Malacanang for the signature of President Benigno Aquino III.
'This is a first of such human rights legislation in the world where a state recognizes a previous administration's fault against its own people and not only provides for, but also actually appropriates for reparation," the senator said.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, sponsored the measure.
The bill stipulates that a human rights violation victim (HRVV) during the regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos is now qualified to file a claim with the Human Rights Claim Board for reparation and/or recognition, as stated in Section 16 of the Act.
"The bicameral conference committee was able to thresh out contentious issues last week. We also expanded the coverage of the bill that includes not only monetary compensation but also non-monetary benefits to include social and psychological assistance coming from different concerned government agencies. Therefore, instead of merely calling it compensation bill, we now call it the reparation bill," Escudero explained.
He said all claimants in the class suit and direct action plaintiffs in Hawaii, and all victims recognized by the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani Foundation shall now be accorded the same conclusive presumption that they are HRVVs.
Conclusive presumption means that any person who has secured or can secure a favorable judgment or award of damages from any court in the country arising from human rights violation shall be considered conclusively as a victim without need of further proof.
On the other hand, those who are not recognized by both entities above may claim compensation under Section 18 which states that "the Board may take judicial notice motu propio of individual persons who suffered human rights violations."
A P10-billion fund, plus accrued interest, has been set aside and appropriated to fund the claims. The amount is part of the funds transferred to the Philippine Government by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court and is now held in escrow.
Escudero said the amount of compensation shall be proportionate to the gravity of the offense committed. The Board, he says shall follow the point system in the determination of the award.
Victims who died or who disappeared and are still missing shall be given 10 points. Those who were tortured and/or raped or sexually abused shall be given from six to nine points.
Those who were detained will be given from three to five points while those whose rights were violated under the Act shall be given one to two points.
The Act provides for a work period of two (2) years from the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Board to complete its mandate.
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