Why is it taking so long to indemnify victims of martial law?

“We could no longer take Noynoy Aquino’s foot-dragging on the implementation of the law while almost every month or week, a martial law victim dies.” – SELDA

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Sixty-five-year-old Flora Cedro joined fellow senior citizens in an unusual reunion of sort.

Now afflicted with poor hearing, Cedro told Bulatlat.com how her husband, Armando Sr., an organizer of fish port workers, was detained twice during the Marcos dictatorship and how he disappeared during the Corazon Aquino administration in 1988.

Cedro was among the 9,539 petitioners who filed a class suit against the Marcos family in 1986. When President Benigno Aquino III signed the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 or Republic Act 10368 on February 25, Cedro said she, like other victims of the dictatorship, felt happy. “But now, we are uncertain if this law would be implemented,” she told Bulatlat.com in Filipino.

Republic Act 10368 provides $246 million in compensation for the victims of the Marcos dictatorship. Under the law, the President shall appoint nine members to the Victims’ Claims Board. The Claims Board will then draft the implementing rules and regulations of the law. Until now, however, the President has not formed the Claims Board.

Victims of martial law marched to Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge to demand justice. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)
Victims of martial law marched to Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge to demand justice. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)

Cedro’s companion, Loreta Sipagan, 78, said she joined the protest action, Sept. 10, to call on Aquino to fulfill his promises.

Sipagan, then a member of urban poor group Samahang Pangnayon in Navotas, was arrested on April 2, 1977. She was detained for more than two months in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan.

Sipagan said she has not received a centavo as compensation since Marcos was ousted through a popular uprising in February 1986.

Like Sipagan who has asthma and hypertension, hundreds of other victims of martial law who marched from Bustillos Church to the foot of Chino Roces (Mendiola) bridge are already old and sick.

Rodolfo del Rosario assails the Aquino administration for not recognizing those who fought the Marcos dictatorship. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)
Rodolfo del Rosario assails the Aquino administration for not recognizing those who fought the Marcos dictatorship. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)

Speaking in front of the Mendiola Peace Arc, 77-year-old Rodolfo del Rosario, said in Filipino, “Our joy turned into anger as President Aquino sits on the law.” “When would he form the Claims Board? Many among us have already died,” he told his colleagues.

Del Rosario, who was hit on the head during the anti-SONA demonstration in July, lamented, “The Aquino administration has no respect for those who fought the Marcos dictatorship.”

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairwoman of SELDA, the organization that led the filing of the class suit against the Marcos, condemned Aquino’s inaction in implementing the law.

“We are afraid that one reason why President Aquino is taking his own sweet time to form the Board is for him to exclude SELDA nominees from being members of the Board,” Enriquez said.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairwoman, calls on Aquino to implement the law immediately. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairwoman, calls on Aquino to implement the law immediately. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)

Three weeks after the signing of the law, SELDA submitted its list of qualified nominees for the Claims Board. To this day, the group has not received any word from Malacañang.

One of SELDA’s nominees to the Claims Board, human rights lawyer Romeo D. Candazo, died in August.

“We could no longer take Noynoy Aquino’s foot-dragging on the implementation of the law while almost every month or week, a martial law victim dies,” Enriquez said. “It adds insult to injury to martial law victims and their relatives when the said law is not given the immediate and appropriate attention by the Aquino government.” ()

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