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(Updated 7:20 p.m.) The Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday ratified the bicameral conference report on the bill seeking to provide compensation to victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
The lower chamber ratified the proposed legislation after quorum was declared at past 5:30 p.m., with 184 lawmakers present. The late strongman's widow, former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, was not seen at the House session hall when the bill was ratified. At the Senate, the report was ratified around 6 p.m. It was not immediately known how many senators were present. The late strongman's son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is an incumbent senator but was not on the floor when the report was ratified.
The bill seeks to grant reparation to victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law era using the P10-billion Marcos ill-gotten wealth, which was transferred to the Philippine government by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997. 'Reparation bill' In a press statement, Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights and sponsored the measure on the floor, said it was the first of such human rights legislation in the world “where a state recognizes a previous administration’s fault against its own people and not only provides for, but also actually appropriates for reparation." He said the measure stipulates that a human rights violation victim (HRVV) during the regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos is now qualified to file a claim with the Human Rights Claim Board for reparation and/or recognition, as stated in Section 16 of the Act. "The bicameral conference committee was able to thresh out contentious issues last week. We also expanded the coverage of the bill that includes not only monetary compensation but also non-monetary benefits to include social and psychological assistance coming from different concerned government agencies,” Escudero said. He added that instead of merely calling it a compensation bill, it should be called the reparation bill. The senator said all claimants in the class suit and direct action plaintiffs in Hawaii and all victims recognized by the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani Foundation shall now be accorded the same conclusive presumption that they are HRVVs. Conclusive presumption means that any person who has secured or can secure a favorable judgment or award of damages from any court in the country arising from human rights violation shall be considered conclusively as a victim without need of further proof. On the other hand, those who are not recognized by both entities above may claim compensation under Section 18 which states that “the Board may take judicial notice motu propio of individual persons who suffered human rights violations.” Escudero said the amount of compensation shall be proportionate to the gravity of the offense committed. The Board, he said, shall follow the point system in the determination of the award. Victims who died or who disappeared and are still missing shall be given 10 points. Those who were tortured and/or raped or sexually abused shall be given from six to nine points. Those who were detained will be given from three to five points while those whose rights were violated under the Act shall be given one to two points. The Act provides for a work period of two years from the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Board to complete its mandate.
The measure only needs the signature of President Benigno Aquino III for it to be enacted into law. — Andreo Calonzo and Amita Legaspi/RSJ/BM, GMA News