Congress set to ratify Marcos compensation bill

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

MANILA -- The 15th Congress will make history again on Monday, January 28, as the final version of the bill providing compensation to human rights victims during the Martial Law era is set to be ratified.

Once both the House of Representatives and the Senate ratify the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed "Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013," only President Benigno Aquino III's signature is needed to enact the bill into law.

Congress has only six session days left to tackle and approve pending bills and resolutions.

On Wednesday, the bicam committee agreed that the 9,539 claimants who successfully secured a final and executory judgment in the United States Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii, are accorded conclusive presumption.

A Human Rights Victims Compensation Board will determine the extent of the human rights violations and the amount of reparation, which may be granted to each claimant.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, a member of the bicam and a principal author of the bill since 1995, said human rights victims recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation are also entitled to conclusive presumption.

The principal funding for the Marcos victims shall come from the P10 billion, plus accrued interests, which is part of the funds transferred to the Philippine government on December 1997 by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

The bicam junked the proposal to allocate 80 percent of the compensation fund to the Hawaii claimants while the remaining 20 percent will be given to all other claimants.

Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello earlier opposed the proposed 80-20 sharing, saying it was unfair for those who have suffered greater abuse to receive much less than one who is party to the Hawaii case.

"It is unjust for all the other victims of Martial Law to have to fight over scraps of compensation from a left-over fund," Bello said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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