Reparations process for Martial Law victims of human rights abuses need to be through, says Claims Board chair

MANILA, Dec. 12 -- The reparations process for the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law in the Philippines need to be thorough, Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) Chair Lina Castillo Sarmiento said.

She said the Human Rights Victims’ Reparations and Recognition Act, or Republic Act 10368, is not just a law for compensation. More importantly, this will give honor to people who sacrificed and showed heroism during this dark period in the nation’s history.

It is also the first of its kind in Asia, Sarmiento said recently during the Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan on human rights under the Aquino Administration.

“Because this is the very first reparations process in this part of the globe, in Asia, many are observing us and this may become a model that is why we want it to be apt,” she said.

(Dahil ito ang pinakaunang reparations process in this part of the globe, sa Asya ito ang pinaka-una, kaya maraming nakatingin sa atin at maraming gagaya sa atin kaya’t gusto naman nating ayusin.)

Sarmiento explained the process the claimant has to go through before claiming the reparation.

First, applicants must personally submit their application together with an affidavit narrating the human rights violations that happened to them during Martial Law.

The application form and the affidavit shall come with other documents such as release papers if detained, decision papers if they were charged and tried in a military court or news clippings.

“If these are not available, the Board allowed them to secure an affidavit from two persons who witnessed the abuse that happened to the claimant,” Sarmiento said.

Then, when the application form and the needed documents are submitted to the HRVCB, the Board will take the picture and signature of the applicant and all of these will be converted in to digital form.

After this, the claimant will receive an acknowledgement receipt, together with their picture, signature and docket number.

Sarmiento clarified that it is not a certainty that they will receive reparation but it will serve as a proof that their application was received by the HRVCB.

If the claimant is already dead, his/her heir may submit the requirements. If the heir has siblings or other relatives, he/she should have a special power of attorney which states that he/she is the designated representative, the HRVCB chair added.

Second, the secretariat will thoroughly examine all the applications and make sure that all of their testimonies match with their submitted documents.

Third, the application papers will go through the HRVCB divisions. The board is composed of three divisions and each divisions has three board members. This is where the claims will be judged if it is in line with the criteria required by the law.

The law says that the human rights violation should have occurred a 1 month before 21 September 1972 or 1 month after 25 February 1986 and that the perpetrator should be a state agent.

RA 10368 also enumerated the human rights violations they can accept with corresponding points while the monetary equivalent will be decided by the Board.

Sarmiento said, “The law clearly states that 10 points will be given to those who died or enforced to disappear. Then 6-9 points for those who were tortured and 3-5 points for the detained. Those who were involuntarily exiled or their business were seized or other analogous human rights violations will be given 1-2 points.”

Then, the Board will get the total points given to all the cases which will be the divisor of the Php 10 billion allotted for the reparations, which was sourced from the funds transferred to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of the 10 December 1997 Order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, and adjudged as Marcos ill-gotten wealth.

After the Board has their resolution in all the cases, the claimants; whether approved or denied, will receive the decision papers which state the verdict of the Board, the evidence presented, how it was resolved and its basis.

Then the HRVCB will publicize all the names of the claimants in all the newspapers, once a week for three consecutive weeks.

Ten days after it was published, applicants who were denied or given with points they think they did not deserve can oppose the decision of the Board while the public can counter the result 15 days after.

RA 10368 also provides non-monetary reparation such as psycho-social services, health services and others, which will be given by various government agencies.

Sarmiento was guest at the Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan yesterday. Kapihan airs live every Friday over Radyo ng Bayan DZRB 738 AM from 10am to 11am, and delayed telecast over PTV4 from 7 pm to 8pm, and IBC 13 from 10.30 to 11.30 pm. (Andrea Lynne Reposo/Media ng Bayan Operations Center)

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