By Gloria Jane Baylon
MANILA, Oct. 13 (PNA) – An organization of former political prisoners has renewed its call for the “immediate passage” of the so-called Marcos Victims Compensation Bill, timing their appeal with this week’s pronouncement of President Benigno S. Aquino III that the late President Ferdinand Marcos will not be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Metro Manila.
A United States Court has granted the long-sought justice for the 9,539 victims of martial law and an award for reparation, according to SELDA, “but the Philippine government has yet to reciprocate the said decision rendering justice for the martial law victims by passing a law that will give justice and indemnification for the victims.”
SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) was established during martial rule (1972 to 1981), composed of former political prisoners of that period.
A class action suit for 10,000 victims was initiated and filed by SELDA before the U.S. Federal District Court System on April 7, 1986. The court ruled against the Marcos family on September 22, 1992, finding Marcos guilty of crimes against humanity.
The court ordered the Marcos family to pay exemplary damages of US$ 1.9 billion and, later, compensatory damages of US$ 776 million to the victims, according to the records of SELDA.
SELDA chairperson Marie Enriquez said “it’s about time that the President has given his position on the issue. His pronouncements, though belated, sounds pretty good for victims of martial law like us…(but it) must now be matched by concrete deeds.”
She emphasized that the martial law “victims have not even been served justice to this day!”
It is a tradition for former Presidents to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
Marcos’ body is in a crypt maintained in Marcos’ hometown of Batac, Ilocos Norte since his death in 1989 in Hawaii. The family had fled to Honolulu after his regime fell in February 1986.
The SELDA chair urged President Aquino and both houses of Congress to accelerate the passage of the pending measures.
Enriquez said that “the process of seeking justice and reparation is so tedious and extremely difficult for the victims of martial rule.”
“The victims are now very old, sickly and dying, but the struggle for justice has not rest. Putting closure to a dark portion of the nation’s history must include rendering justice to victims of that era,” she added. (PNA)
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