Rights groups call for transparency on selection of Victims Claims Board

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan is calling for a transparent and credible process on the selection of members of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

Under Republic Act 10368 or the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013,? a nine-member Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board shall be created. The independent and quasi-judicial body shall accept and approve applications for claims, craft rules for the implementation of the law, among others. The President shall appoint the chairperson and eight members of the Claims Board.

The Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 provides $246 million in compensation for those who were persecuted by the dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was signed by President Benigno Aquino III on the 27th anniversary of the People Power 1 uprising.

“The process should be acceptable to the victims,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a statement. She said that their group is apprehensive because vital information on the nomination process and schedules has not yet been publicized.

“We hope that this is not a foreshadowing of the possible exclusion of the nominees of Selda and Tanggol Bayi from the Human Rights Claims Board,” Palabay said.

Selda or the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto is the organization that initiated the class action suit against Marcos. On March 12, Selda sent eight nominees for the Human Rights Victims Claims Board to the Office of the President.

“Selda, at the very least, should be informed of the procedure and deadline for submission of nominations,” Palabay said.

Nominees include Amaryllis “Marie” Hilao-Enriquez, chairwoman of both Selda and Karapatan; Bonifacio P. Ilagan, multi-awarded writer; Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, head of the Department of Women and Development Studies of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development. All three were detained during martial law.

Also nominated were former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza L. Maza, one of the authors of the martial law compensation bill and Dr. Edelina P. De la Paz, associate professor at the UP College of
Medicine.

Three human rights lawyers — Romeo D. Candazo, Kit S. Enriquez and Dominador A. Lagare, Sr. – were also nominated by Selda.

“We are very honored and proud that our nominees possess the qualifications of the members of the Claims Board spelled out in the law,” Selda secretary general Angie Ipong said.

Under the law, qualifications are as follows: 1) must be of known probity, competence and integrity; 2) must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos; 3) must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.

Karapatan maintained that the Human Rights Victims Claims Board should be composed of people “with integrity, competence and probity and, who understand the plight of the victims.”

“They should be people who have consistently defended human rights through the years. Their records as staunch human rights advocates are publicly known and acknowledged,” the group said.

“We stand by the nominees of Selda and Tanggol Bayi as our own. We believe that the pursuit of justice for the victims of martial law shall be, mainly, in the hands of those who will compose the Claims Board,” Palabay said. ()

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