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Senate panel OKs extension of availability of funds for human rights victims until 2019

A Senate panel has approved the extension of the maintenance, availability and release of funds for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime until the end of next year.

In Report No. 495, the Committee on Justice and Human Rights recommended that Senate Joint Resolution 13, which extends the availability of funds for the indemnification of human rights victims until December 2019, be approved by the plenary without amendment.

Joint Resolution 13, filed by Senators Francis Escudero and Ralph Recto, seeks to extend the maintenance, availability, and release of billions of funds deposited at the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

The measure also seeks to ensure that all legitimate claimants under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims and Recognition Act of 2013 will be able to get their monetary reparations, particularly those who were issued checks by LBP.

As of May 11, 2018, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board had approved and duly recognized 11,103 claimants out of more than 75,000 applicants.

As of June 28, 2018, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board account with the LBP reported a balance of P792.629 million. The amount can only be maintained until August 11, 2018, after which the balance would be reverted to the Bureau of Treasury.

However, there were reports from several approved claimants’ relatives that they were not able to encash the checks even with the issuance of Special Powers of Attorney.

"It is the sense of the Senate and the House of Representatives that the funds be effectively distributed, especially to the approved and qualified claimants," the joint resolution stated, stressing that the Commission on Audit, the LBP and Bureau of Treasury should coordinate with the Commission on Human Rights to ensure the distribution of valid claims.

The House of Representatives approved its counterpart House Joint Resolution 26 in August. —KBK, GMA News