Martial law victims being victimized again

MANILA – Victims of human rights violations during the martial law regime of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos are being victimized again, this time by unscrupulous individuals who want to earn from their suffering.

Chairperson Lina Sarmiento of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board said she has received information that some martial law victims are being charged P500 each for the application forms to get compensation from the government.

“It is very important that we reach out to the public because this early, we are receiving information that there are people who are taking advantage of the victims. They charge P500 for the forms. The form is free, it is not for sale. It can be reproduced,” she said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

She also received information that one individual even asked a family of 7 brothers and sisters P1,000 each so that he can process the application for compensation.

“Hiningan na kaagad kasi siya ang maglalakad. There is no fee for the filing of the application and the board has not authorized any person and any agency or any individual to process the applications, to accept applications on our behalf,” she said.

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board, which is tasked by law to dispense P10 billion to martial law victims, will start accepting applications for compensation on Monday.

The application period will run for six months from May 12 to November 10 this year.

Sarmiento said she expects at least 20,000 victims of human rights abuses during martial law to partake of the P10 billion compensation.

Claimants can download application forms from the board’s website, which should be submitted to the board’s office in the University of the Philippines.

They can also get the forms at the Human Rights Victims Claims Board office at Virata Hall in UP Diliman.

The Board will also send teams to claimants from the provinces who cannot travel to Manila.

Sarmiento said the amount of compensation will depend on what type of human rights violation the victims suffered.

She said there will be a point system for each violation.

“There is a point system that was provided for under the law. Those who were killed/disappeared will be given 10 points. Victims of torture or sexual abuse will be given 6 to 9 points. Those who were detained will be given 3 to 5 points and all other violations will be given 1 to 2 points,” she said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

She added that the compensation per person will depend on the total number of claimants. She said the board will need a final number of claimants before computing the value of one point per violation “because the money is fixed.”

Sarmiento said after the submission of the application, the secretariat will need to investigate the claim and the victim or claimant interviewed by a paralegal.