LEGAZPI CITY, 25June2013 – Members of the human rights organization SELDA, many of whom were illegally detained and suffered torture in prison, trooped to Mendiola this morning to demand President Noynoy Aquino to immediately form the Claims Board stipulated in the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
“Elections have already been finished and still the President sits on the law without appointing anybody to form the Claims Board,” Enriquez said.
In a letter sent to Malacañang today, SELDA members decried the non-implementaion of the RA 10368, stressing that Aquino did not do anything to form the Victims’ Claims Board four months after he signed it into law on February 25, 2013 during the 27th anniversary observance of EDSA I.
The formation of the Claims Board, composed of nine members, will draw up the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the reparation and recognition of martial law victims.
“Victims all over the country who are interested to be recognized as martial law victims are already asking when and if the government is really sincere in its declaration to recognize martial law victims,” said Enriquez.
SELDA is also doubtful that the long delay in the formation of the Claims Board might result in the exclusion of SELDA nominees, citing also in their letter why the president must appoint SELDA nominees to the Claims Board.
The group has submitted its nominees to the Claims Board since March 12, but they have not seen any meaningful action from Malacañang.
“Many from SELDA interpret this as foot-dragging on the President’s part to exclude SELDA nominees from becoming members of the Claims Board,” Enriquez added.
The law provides for the requirements of the members of the Claims Board as: (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; and, (3) must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
“SELDA has been the organization that consistently and for the longest time has carried on the struggle for recognizing the martial law victims’ heroism and sacrifices to fight for the nation’s democracy and human rights which serve as inspiration to the youth. SELDA is the organization of the majority of the victims or has organized and rallied the victims to take part in making the human rights violators accountable for their crimes. Majority of the victims recognize SELDA as the one carrying on their interests and therefore majority of them are known by SELDA. It also has a nationwide network so that it can reach the victims more than any other organizations, anywhere in the country,” the letter stated.
Cognizant of the traits and requirements for members of the board, SELDA submitted its nominees; namely, Ms. Amaryllis Hilao Enriquez, Mr. Bonifacio Ilagan, Dr. Edelina de la Paz, Atty. Dominador Lagare, Atty. Marcos Risonar and Atty. Kit Enriquez. SELDA also supports the nomination of Prof. Judy Taguiwalo and former GWP Partylist Rep. Liza Maza, who were nominated by Tanggol Bayi, a strong advocate of women’s rights.
Enriquez finallly said that as long as the the law said to give reparation and recognition to martial law victims remain unimplemented, they are becoming impatient and doubtful that the government would really have it done.
“We will continue to be vigilant, and come back to the streets to demand recognition and reparation,” said Enriquez.